ChrisWeigant.com

The Risks Of Joe Biden's "Most Electable" Strategy

[ Posted Monday, August 26th, 2019 – 17:08 UTC ]

Joe Biden is making the case that his own electability is why he should be nominated, rather early in the Democratic 2020 presidential primary race. This strategy, however, is not without a measure of risk for Biden, because while his numbers have indeed been the most impressive so far, this could always change. Two recent polls may be indicating just such a change is underway, but at this point it is still too early to determine whether this is a real trend or an outlier polling blip for Biden. Even if it is a blip, though, it shows the risks of leaning so hard on being the most electable Democrat this far out.

Biden's argument -- delivered both by his first big campaign ad and in person by his wife recently -- is that he is dominating not only the Democratic polling, but also (and more importantly) the head-to-head polling against President Donald Trump. Biden is the best candidate for Democratic voters to back, this argument goes, because he is the one who can resoundingly beat Trump next November.

This is indeed a powerful argument to be making right now. Over and over again, Democratic voters have expressed their biggest motivational factor this time around is to defeat Trump. To do so, they'll rally behind the candidate they think has the best chance of doing so, even if they don't totally agree with that candidate's full agenda. To date, this has meant backing Joe Biden, who consistently polls ahead of the rest of the Democratic field in head-to-head polling matchups with Trump. If Biden's got the best chance, then Democratic voters will -- with whatever degree of reluctance or enthusiasm -- get behind him in the general election, because beating Trump is so much more important than petty ideological squabbles within the Democratic Party right now.

That's the logic Biden is relying upon, at any rate. His first ad explicitly makes this argument, showing graphs of how well Biden stacks up against Trump in various polls. His secondary argument in the ad is how a Biden presidency will return us to the halcyon days of Barack Obama, when everything was so demonstrably better than it is now. This is also a good argument to be making, in the midst of all the neverending Trumpian chaos.

But by leaning on his polling this early on, Biden opens himself up to voter disappointment if he doesn't continue his dominance of the head-to-head polling. So far, there are actually two candidates who consistently beat Trump by a healthy margin: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. If Biden slips, Bernie may be able to capitalize on it at a later date (that's assuming that Bernie doesn't also slip in the polling, of course). And he certainly won't be the only Democratic candidate pointing it out, if Biden suddenly loses some polling luster.

Two polls just out show that Biden might not be quite as dominant as he has been, up until now. An Economist/YouGov poll puts Biden only very slightly in the lead, and down in a big way from where he has been so far: Biden polled at 22 percent, which was only three points better than Bernie Sanders (19 percent) and four points better than Elizabeth Warren (18 percent). But the poll that's causing the biggest stir came from Monmouth, because it is the first poll to date which showed someone other than Biden in the lead. This poll put Biden at only 19 percent, with Sanders and Warren tied for the lead at 20 percent.

Now, these are only two polls out of many. We can probably expect a lot more polls out this week, because Wednesday is the cutoff day for the third round of Democratic debates, so the pollsters will likely release more results before this deadline (since standing in the polls is one of the two big criteria for entry into the debate). So we'll likely be able to see in the next few days whether these two polls truly do show a large decline in Biden's support, or whether they are merely outliers which happened to coincide.

The Monmouth poll in particular is rather suspicious, because their polling sample is so small (only a few hundred Democrats were polled, which put the margin of error over five percent). Perhaps all the Biden supporters failed to answer the phone, while all the Bernie and Warren backers eagerly participated in the poll. The larger the sampling size (usually 1,000 or 1,500 people, at a minimum), the fewer such errors happen, to state a basic rule of polling. The two polls were taken over the same time period, but a CNN poll was also run during an overlapping period, and it showed Biden with 29 percent support, with Sanders only pulling 15 percent and Warren down at 14 percent. This is much more in line with where all the other polling has been for the past few months, it's worth pointing out.

Neither of the two disappointing polls for Biden were head-to-head matchups. They were just "Which Democrat would you vote for in the primaries?" polls. So for the time being they won't have a direct impact on the argument Biden is making on the strength of his head-to-head polls against Trump. But if more polls appear with Biden down in the low 20s (or even slipping into the teens), and if a few head-to-head polls appear showing either Sanders or Warren beating Trump by a wider margin than Biden, then his electability argument will be undercut in a big way. So far, Sanders has consistently beaten Trump in the head-to-head polling, but always by a margin of a few points less than Biden. Warren is weaker in the head-to-head polling so far, either winning by only a few points or in a virtual tie with Trump.

This shows the risk for Biden in leaning on his head-to-head polling as one of his main campaign arguments, because if his numbers slip then this argument either goes away or (even worse) becomes a ready-made argument for any other Democrat who bests Biden in the head-to-head matchups with Trump. If Team Biden is telling everyone to vote for the person with the best chance of beating Trump, and then if that person suddenly becomes someone else, then according to Biden his own voters should switch allegiance at that point.

Of course, this isn't Biden's only argument, so he could just jettison it at any time and switch to other reasons why primary voters should choose him. It is notable because it is a rather untried strategy -- historically, no other primary candidate has leaned on such early polls to explicitly make the "elect me" argument to the voters so early in the process. It remains to be seen whether it will ultimately be a winning argument for Biden or just an experiment that had to be abandoned when the polling became less cut-and-dried. This could happen sooner than Team Biden thinks, if those two recent polls are a harbinger of slipping voter support for Biden. If Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren are truly in a three-way race for the lead, then none of them will be able to argue that they are dominating the field.

Most of the rest of the field, from Sanders and Warren down to the single-digit candidates, are making a strong counterargument to Biden. They're all saying (in various ways) that just being the non-Trump candidate isn't good enough -- you have to stand for something rather than just promising you'll undo all of Trump's idiocy. Biden has yet to really address this, as he is continuing to focus his campaign on Trump himself rather than his primary challengers. He still has the luxury of doing so because he is so far out in front of the rest of the field. But that might not be as true any more. If Biden slips to a three-way fight with Sanders and Warren, then he's going to have to engage with them or risk looking like he thinks he's entitled to the nomination. If Warren and/or Sanders suddenly pull even with Biden in the head-to-head polling against Trump then Biden's electability argument will evaporate. That hasn't quite happened yet, but it might already be underway. Which is why I'll be closely watching the polls that come out this week, to see whether they either reflect or contradict the two that just came out. Because Biden's campaign strategy might just hinge on those results.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

52 Comments on “The Risks Of Joe Biden's "Most Electable" Strategy”

  1. [1] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    They're all saying (in various ways) that just being the non-Trump candidate isn't good enough -- you have to stand for something rather than just promising you'll undo all of Trump's idiocy. Biden has yet to really address this, as he is continuing to focus his campaign on Trump himself rather than his primary challengers.

    Personally, I’d prefer Biden and every other candidate focused solely on what they want to do for this country and ignored their primary challengers all together! If all you can do is attack someone else’s ideas, it just screams the message that you aren’t intelligent enough to offer anything better. People are saying that Trump is the very best example of this to ever have existed!

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    As Trump's victory in 2016 proved, it doesn't matter what you win by (e.g. "resoundingly") just that you win.
    I don't think things were nearly as good as they could have been under Obama - he could have been FDR (remember "hope and change"?) Hillary was his Secretary of State and the promise of "more of the same" gave "Socialist" Bernie Sanders
    a real chance to win the Dem nomination. In fact, I remember having to hold my nose to vote for her.
    Joe Biden represents the kind of "Republican-lite" Dem philosophy that been selling us out since Reagan.

  3. [3] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    All polls need to be taken with a grain of salt as the percentages you quote are usually derived by weighting different voters in different ways and are not derived directly from just the number of people polled.

    So the percentages are influenced by the pollsters interpreting the information. Different pollsters could ask the same people the same questions get the same answers and arrive at different percentages.

    So if a pollster rated a Biden voter as more likely to vote or whatever other criteria they use to weigh the voters than a Bernie, Warren or other candidate voter the pollster might count the Biden voter as one and a half or two voters while only counting the Bernie, Warren or other candidate voters as one vote or a half or three quarters of a vote.

    This is one reason the polls were not always accurate in 2016 because many voters were did not vote as they had in the past or were expected to vote.

    This was a good thing as predictability is the enemy of democracy. It is much easier to manipulate predictable people.

    And why the media should spend less time on the horse race and the polls such a focus depends on and pay more attention to as Listen said "what the candidates intend to do"- and how they intend to do it.

    And while we're (they're) at it let's extend the ignore the electibility argument to congressional and senate elections.

    So many polls over many years have shown over 80% of citizens want the big money out of politics that it would take enough salt to choke a herd of horses to even make a dent in the reliability of that percentage.

    The you only have a choice between big money Democrats and big money Republicans because they are the only candidates that can win is an electibility argument.

    The problem with that argument is that if a person is in the 80% of citizens that wants the big money out of politics, voting for a big money candidate guarantees that you will lose by voting for either big money candidate. And it guarantees you will have a choice of the same guaranteed loss in the next election.

    So the only rational, pragmatic choice in the current election for this 80% of citizens in congressional and senate elections in 2020 is to accept the loss in this election and vote for a small donor candidate whether they can win this election or not or write-in a vote while participating in One Demand to create and demonstrate demand for small donor candidates in the next election so that in the next election the small donor candidates actually can win.

    Basic democracy.

    And it's way past time for you, CW, to put at least equal weight to One Demand and the failed you only have two big money choices deception.

    People want something to get the big money out of politics so badly they are even supporting the fake small contribution campaigns pretending to be small donor campaigns.

    It is possible that citizens have become so fed up and will be so unpredictable that they may recognize the real thing and make it happen.

    And what possible reason could you have, CW, for not covering the real thing on a reality based blog?

    Or is the reality of this blog the equivalent of a product like Koolaid or HI-C touting 10% real fruit juice?

    A reality based blog should be like swearing in in a courtroom- the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth.

  4. [4] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [3] Don Harris...

    While I COMPLETELY agree with what you are trying to accomplish here ('tis truely a NO BRAINER IMO) I must point out that you are trying to do the the same thing as "paid in Rubles and Methamphetamine" "Michale" and perhaps "C.R. Stucki" as well. You are trying to "piggyback" on this web blog in order to further your/our cause.

    Nothing wrong with that but I DO suggest you show restraint so as to not NEEDLESSLY antagonize those of us who visit this site to read what CW has to say. As a lifelong salesman I've learned of the perils of "over selling," ya dig?

    Otherwise...DRIVE ON, fellow traveler. If enough voices rise up we shall overcome - woot!

  5. [5] 
    Kick wrote:

    The Morning Consult weekly running poll just out tonight shows Biden up +2 with Sanders and Warren virtually unchanged (17,303 survey interviews conducted between August 19-25, 2019).

    DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
    Biden …... 33%
    Sanders …20%
    Warren ….15%
    Harris …….8%

    EARLY STATES' PRIMARIES
    Biden …... 33%
    Sanders …17%
    Warren ….12%
    Harris …….8%

    Biden has yet to really address this, as he is continuing to focus his campaign on Trump himself rather than his primary challengers. He still has the luxury of doing so because he is so far out in front of the rest of the field.

    Yes, because "punching down" on your Party's other candidates when you have been running ahead by double digits for multiple months is a ridiculous thing to do and makes you look like a jerk to their voters who are your potential voters.

    If Biden slips to a three-way fight with Sanders and Warren, then he's going to have to engage with them or risk looking like he thinks he's entitled to the nomination.

    He's going to have to engage with "them"? Warren and Sanders are going to have to engage with each other and stop treating themselves as a "twofer" when they're obviously also running against each other and not just Joe Biden. Discuss. :)

  6. [6] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    3

    Your little "demand" has nothing to do with "basic democracy." In fact, you've repeatedly demonstrated that your grasp of the definition of "democracy" is sorely lacking.

    I am sick of your trolling the author to shill for your failed BS. He's already asked you to allow him to have his own blog without your snotty comments, and I think the vast majority of your comments are snotty toward him.

    So take the hint. :)

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    MtnCaddy-
    Thank you.

    I would just like to point out that my comments to CW are nothing compared to the other commenters comments to me.

    And I am just following the advice of other commenters here that said what I was doing (asking CW nicely) wasn't working so I should try something different. So I did.

    And I did exactly what CW said people that were being ignored by other media and politicians should do to get the attention of the media and politicians that were ignoring them.

    When CW said in response that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar I pointed out how that excuse did not explain why he ignored me when I was asking nice.

    I then asked nice again for several months and he continued to ignore me. This exposed his excuse as an excuse and not a reason.

    I am not concerned with "selling" to the commenters here that are not interested changing the status quo.
    (Selling ice cubes to an eskimo)

    I am here to get CW to address reality and provide the 10% fruit juice in the comments until CW decides to put 100% fruit juice in the articles or explains why he won't.

    And while I may on occasion not ask nice when asking nice is ignored, that is a reaction that could easily be avoided if CW would simply address One Demand.

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    DH-"A reality based blog should be like swearing in in a courtroom- the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth."

    Says the guy who commandeers the face of Willie Nelson on his website and is unwilling to provide a resume with a verifiable name and address...so potential supporters can check out his qualifications and whether he's done any time in jail before they send him THEIR personal data.

    I can understand reluctance to provide such to the world wide web, and I don't give out my personal data for precisely that reason....but I'm not pitching any business, profit or nonprofit, to readers of CW.com. I've published under my name in professional journals, but that is a very different world with reasonable privacy buffers.

  9. [9] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Well Chris, you finally nailed it in the last paragraph: Bernie and Liz Warren have to sort out which of them will carry the liberal flag.

    Cause Biden's got the centrist flag all to himself, and he's playing a long game, which has to be hard on a Bernie fan. Moreover, I doubt that he'll even compete in New Hampshire this time around, given that the two of them pretty much have it tied up.

    So, South Carolina? ugh. No Bernie fans there..

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @cw,

    as 2016 clearly demonstrated, polling is an inexact science. i think biden is simply the best democratic candidate at the moment, and that's why he's held his lead thus far. not because of name recognition, the centrist "lane," or because he's "electable," but because many people believe his peculiar blend of idealism and pragmatism, with his strengths and weaknesses on full display, is the antidote to what currently ails the executive branch. that doesn't mean liz warren won't catch fire and beat him in the primary - she's certainly capable of it. bernie doing so i consider somewhat less likely. still, i feel biden being perceived as a "boring" candidate is more of a feature than a bug.

    JL

  11. [11] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    p.s. why have you STILL refused to address the potential benefits of voting based on pie!

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [7] Don Harris

    Your welcome.

    As I just recently started reading the Comments section would you please briefly summarize your running dialogue with CW? Are you trying to get CW to address the money in politics issue? And to get him to agree with you and perhaps even direct folks to your blog? Do you have a blog?If so, please provide it.

    I wonder (given the volume of commentary that CW has posted for years now) if he hasn't already weighed in. I cannot imagine that CW's attitude on this subject varies much from ours.

    As passionate about rescuing American politics as you and I are, please remember that it's CW's show and it's up to him to decide what to write. And in a "kinder, gentler and less chaotic time, with far less craziness coming at us hourly" (the Eisenhower years, perhaps) CW would have time to step back from the trees to contemplate the forest.

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    7

    I would just like to point out that my comments to CW are nothing compared to the other commenters comments to me.

    Bullshit.

    And I am just following the advice of other commenters here that said what I was doing (asking CW nicely) wasn't working so I should try something different. So I did.

    This is pure bullshit, Don. Lies. Who is the commenter you're blaming for your own decision to troll the author of the blog in multiple ways? If you truly want to follow the advice of "other commenters,":

    Your most repeated advice:

    A. Start your own blog.
    B. Stop trolling the author to shill for you.
    C. A and B

    I am here to get CW to address reality and provide the 10% fruit juice in the comments until CW decides to put 100% fruit juice in the articles or explains why he won't.

    Admitted troll, he already did. It's his blog. See blockquote above.

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    To do so, they'll rally behind the candidate they think has the best chance of doing so, even if they don't totally agree with that candidate's full agenda.

    Well, the way I see it, there is one too many 'do so's' in that sentence.

    I sounds funny.

    Heh.

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This shows the risk for Biden in leaning on his head-to-head polling as one of his main campaign arguments, because if his numbers slip then this argument either goes away or (even worse) becomes a ready-made argument for any other Democrat who bests Biden in the head-to-head matchups with Trump.

    If his polling numbers drop for real, then he just has to make any number of other arguments to demonstrate why he bests Trump and his Democratic rivals.

    In other words, Biden has a huge tool box. Ahem.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Of course, this isn't Biden's only argument, so he could just jettison it at any time and switch to other reasons why primary voters should choose him. It is notable because it is a rather untried strategy

    Yes! That's just what I said. And, I think it will work, given the incumbent and the field of Democratic candidates.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Most of the rest of the field, from Sanders and Warren down to the single-digit candidates, are making a strong counterargument to Biden. They're all saying (in various ways) that just being the non-Trump candidate isn't good enough --

    And, they are so very right about that. Just not in the way they think. :)

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If Biden slips to a three-way fight with Sanders and Warren, then he's going to have to engage with them or risk looking like he thinks he's entitled to the nomination.

    Does his newest ad in Iowa Re. healthcare and the ACA set him on the right course for that?

    Biden implicitly argues against scrapping the ACA and starting over and against efforts to kill it by a thousand cuts. Implicit may not be strong enough so I hope he gets more blunt about it.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Biden has yet to really address this, as he is continuing to focus his campaign on Trump himself rather than his primary challengers.

    As I have said before, I think Joe is in a unique position to run on protecting health care now that Trump has chosen poorly to double down in his attempts to kill it. It's personal for Joe; he has a unique story that includes his family and his son Beau and friends Ted Kennedy and John McCain who passed away from glioblastoma. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has chosen to double down on his attempts to kill the ACA a.k.a. Obamacare.

    Senator Edward Kennedy didn't live to see his life's work signed into law by Barack Obama because he passed away on August 25, 2009, from a brain tumor... glioblastoma... the same type that would take one of his closest personal friends, Senator John McCain who saved the ACA with the swift downturn of his right thumb before he passed away exactly nine years later to the day of Kennedy on August 25, 2018.

    "John McCain will cast a long shadow," Joe Biden said. "His impact on America hasn't ended. Not even close." It was that same cancer that also took Joe Biden’s son, Beau, in 2015.

    If you pay careful attention, you will notice the uncanny way that history sometimes rhymes. If I noticed patterns in things, I would wager that Joe Biden will be entering the 2020 race for the presidency with a story to tell and a fight against Trump uniquely his own. As CW rightly points out, Trump has chosen poorly. :)

    http://www.chrisweigant.com/2019/03/26/trump-doubles-down-on-losing-strategy/#comment-132544

    continued...

  20. [20] 
    Kick wrote:

    ... Having said all that, it looks like Joe has a new ad wherein he takes on his opponents and outlines what I have always believed would be his best argument to the question:

    "Why do you want to be president, Joe?"

    It's personal.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vi4bcatoFns

    _______________

    Good choice. ;)

  21. [21] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller
    [18]

    Does his newest ad in Iowa Re. healthcare and the ACA set him on the right course for that?

    Yes. I was just posting about the same thing before I saw your post. I totally agree.

    Biden implicitly argues against scrapping the ACA and starting over and against efforts to kill it by a thousand cuts. Implicit may not be strong enough so I hope he gets more blunt about it.

    He's in the lead with no need whatsoever to "punch down" at the moment. It's the perfect pitch. :)

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Kick, I won't be surprised if he gets explicit about this in the next debate.

  23. [23] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller
    [23]

    Well, Kick, I won't be surprised if he gets explicit about this in the next debate.

    I suspect he'll bloody well have to since he's the front runner with a giant target likely to get "tag teamed" by Sanders/Warren and piled on by multiple others. Even for the guy trying to take the high road and avoid "punching down" at members of his own Party at this early stage, "punching back" in a debate setting is to be expected and encouraged. :)

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I see.

  25. [25] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    MtnCaddy-
    To summarize my running dialogue with CW- there is none. A dialogue would require CW to participate.

    What I am asking for is a dialogue on is One Demand.

    The only times (twice) he commented on One Demand it was pretty much the same nonsense you see from Kick, Listen, etc. where he changed what One Demand is to fit his argument and did not address the questions I asked.

    When I followed up with a comment pointing this out and answering his questions there was no response.

    Since then he only complains when don't ask nice and ignores when I do ask nice.

    It should be pointed out that the times he did "address" One Demand with the changing of the argument and avoiding the questions was after I did not ask nice.

    Not exactly a sound punishment/reward strategy if you are trying to encourage someone to be nice.

    As for a kinder, gentler time, it's easy to do the right thing in a kinder, gentler time. The test of a person's mettle is how they behave when it is difficult times.

    As for a less chaotic time- it is right now. As I pointed out in the beginning of August (again) and CW has acknowledged, August is a slow news month.

    While this should not be relegated to the back burner at any time as it effects every other issue and is the main obstacle to solving other problems.

    If not now, when?

    It can't be after we solve our other problems like climate change, income inequality, health care, etc. because those problems can't be solved until we get the big money out of politics.

  26. [26] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Don Harris,

    Funny, I have asked you multiple times to tell us what you believe CW would be able to report about One Demand if he chose to write about it, and you have ignored this request every time. Why is that? This should be easy to do, I’m asking you to tell us what about your idea makes it a winner that people should be excited about.

    What positive things could he say about the website he’d be telling the world is where they need to go to sign up for One Demand?

    You want people to pledge to only vote for small donation candidates, but you have gotten zero candidates to agree to become an One Demand candidate. You have said that people should write in their own name when there are no small donation candidates on the ballot — as a way to send the message that they will only vote for small donation candidates — but you have yet to explain how anyone looking at the voting results in their districts will be able to know which write-in candidates are doing so in protest and which ones are actually voting for themselves because they want the job.

    You would have to make the names and addresses of everyone who sign up with One Demand available to the public for anyone to know that a person’s write in was done in protest, correct? Yet, no where on your sign up page do you inform those who sign up that their info will be made public.

    Your website states:

    For example, if 20% of the general election voters that don’t normally vote in the primaries voted in the primaries using a write-in vote to write-in their own name because there were no hundred dollar candidates running in the primaries that would total about 40-50% of the primary vote because in many primary elections only 20-30% general election voters participate in the primaries.

    So you are counting on getting people who do not vote in elections to commit to voting with the knowledge that their vote won’t make a difference unless other non-voters can be convinced to do the same?

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    26

    What I am asking for is a dialogue on is One Demand.

    You're not asking, you're trolling.

    The only times (twice) he commented on One Demand it was pretty much the same nonsense you see from Kick, Listen, etc. where he changed what One Demand is to fit his argument and did not address the questions I asked.

    No, he didn't. You've trolled him for multiple years asking him to shill for you, and he has repeatedly refused to do that. He's encouraged you to get your own blog and also to "shove off."

    You have a website outdated by multiple years and have admitted on this blog to using a picture of a celebrity therein. If you feel like you are receiving answers that are "nonsense" from either the author or any of the other commenters here, you should consider the fact that your outdated shit isn't just ridiculous claptrap, it's also legitimate grounds for legal action against you or anyone else who promotes it.

    Now, in the very apt words of CW: "Shove off." :)

  28. [28] 
    Paula wrote:

    [20] Kick: My reaction to Biden's video is 50-50.

    On a personal level I certainly feel sympathy for his sorrows and believe his feelings to be sincere. Many people will respond emotionally and as such it's effective.

    OTOH, I've started to be a bit repelled by Biden's constant reminders to everyone that he's suffered these tragedies - there's an element of emotional blackmail at work. In this video he basically hit his two elect-me-justifications: "I've suffered" and "I was Obama's Veep".

    To me the meta-message is "elect me for ME, not for you - I deserve this because I have suffered." The Obama connection is important too, but the impact revolves around his personal trauma.

    Kind of a variation on the joke about how Ivy League graduates ALWAYS find a way to drop into conversation that they are Ivy League grads. I don't know if it's deliberate at all or just habit, or some murky combination, but he always brings up his wife's car crash and now Beau's cancer death. He gets sympathy and, whether knowingly or instinctively, the backdrop of tragedy he evokes gains him an advantage over opponents who have to tread carefully around the brave, bereaved survivor.

    His candidacy is heavily reliant on nostalgia; not on what he will do nearly as much as what he's been through and what he/Obama did, so it will probably please his base. And it may cause opponents to take it easier on him - in which case it's a smart political tactic. It's the sympathy card and he's playing it. It will be interesting to see how well it works.

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Shocking. Positively shocking.

  30. [30] 
    Kick wrote:

    Paula
    29

    On a personal level I certainly feel sympathy for his sorrows and believe his feelings to be sincere. Many people will respond emotionally and as such it's effective.

    I don't feel any sympathy for Joe, and I seriously don't think that he's looking for any. All too often, career politicians like him are looked on as "those who don't understand the common man." Just my opinion, but these type ads are to show Joe's been through a lot like everybody else and that health care is just as important to him and his family as it is to everyone else and their families, that he's fought like hell on multiple fronts to pass it, and it's a personal issue for him just like the majority of us. Empathy.

    OTOH, I've started to be a bit repelled by Biden's constant reminders to everyone that he's suffered these tragedies - there's an element of emotional blackmail at work.

    Blackmail? That's harsh. Keep in mind that not everyone is tuned into the political arena like we are, there are a whole lot of voters tuned in now more than in the past, and they're new and learning. Health care is a major issue for a lot of Americans, and Joe is telling them who will fight to keep them from losing theirs.

    In this video he basically hit his two elect-me-justifications: "I've suffered" and "I was Obama's Veep".

    Rephrasing: "I might be a career politician, but I know what it's like to suffer, and health care is a personal issue with me just as much as it is for everyone else" and "I was Obama's VP who fought like hell right along with him and the Democratic Party in order to bring Obamacare into the world, and I will protect our baby while at the same time protecting yours... a win-win."

    To me the meta-message is "elect me for ME, not for you - I deserve this because I have suffered." The Obama connection is important too, but the impact revolves around his personal trauma.

    To me, the meta-message is: Health care is as important to me as it is to you, and I'll protect yours because it's also my legacy.

    Kind of a variation on the joke about how Ivy League graduates ALWAYS find a way to drop into conversation that they are Ivy League grads.

    I wouldn't joke about the "Ivy League" if I was a fan of Elizabeth Warren. ;)

    He gets sympathy and, whether knowingly or instinctively, the backdrop of tragedy he evokes gains him an advantage over opponents who have to tread carefully around the brave, bereaved survivor.

    I don't think he's looking for sympathy... just to show that he knows what it's like to suffer like everyone else and how he shares their top priorities like health care, jobs, transportation... he rode Amtrak for decades. Does Trump strike you as the kind of guy who can empathize with anyone? Hell no. Does Joe?

    His candidacy is heavily reliant on nostalgia; not on what he will do nearly as much as what he's been through and what he/Obama did, so it will probably please his base.

    It's early, though. I think Joe is quite astute to stay out of the burgeoning pissing contest to see who can propose the most "free" stuff that somebody else is going to pay... like Trump's wall only a whole lot more stuff.

    It's the sympathy card and he's playing it. It will be interesting to see how well it works.

    Empathy card. :)

  31. [31] 
    TheStig wrote:

    What a difference a day makes in the polls. Monmouth looks like an outlier. That said, I'm not sure the point spread models commonly used for less populated races are appropriate for the very large number of Dem candidates in still in play.

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Very well said, Kick.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This one's for you, Paula.
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?283385-2/senator-biden-farewell-address

    It's Senator Biden's farewell address to the Senate as he was about to assume the office of the vice presidency.

  34. [34] 
    TheStig wrote:

    In reference to comment 31, here's an interesting sanity check of how well widely used estimates of random survey errors actually work in practice.

    https://engineering.stanford.edu/magazine/article/margin-error-bigger-you-think

    If the commonly used estimation techniques work, 95% of election results should fall within the margin of error. In real life application, 88% of Presidential races fell within the margin error. Senate and gubernatorial races that fell within the margin of error was closer to 75%. Mind you, this was for contests with a filed much smaller than the 20 horse races of the 2020 Presidential primaries.

  35. [35] 
    TheStig wrote:

    As the NY Times headlined it in 2016. "When You Hear the Margin of Error Is Plus or Minus 3 Percent, Think 7 Instead."

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/upshot/when-you-hear-the-margin-of-error-is-plus-or-minus-3-percent-think-7-instead.html

    ....and this was for a field much smaller than the thundering herd of Democratic Party presidential hopefuls.

  36. [36] 
    Paula wrote:

    [30] Kick: Yes, you can look at that video and take from it the messages you listed - that JB is sympathetic to people's needs for healthcare coz he's been there and also that ACA is "his legacy" so he wants to protect it.

    I don't disagree with either.

    But when you really look at those two things - that he's capable of sympathy and empathy and that he assisted (we don't have any specifics re: how) in the passage of the ACA - what does that amount to?

    Every Dem running - certainly the front-runners (with the possible exception of BS, who seems to operate from a more abstract place & has trouble with personal interactions) all exude empathy and fervent desire to protect/improve healthcare.

    Every Dem running can be compared to Blotus and be seen as superior human beings.

    Joe's schtick is that he's "extra-sympathetic" because he's been through tragedy. So have lots of other people, many of whom didn't/don't have the protections he's had. Many of whom didn't when he was busily taking away people's ability to file for bankruptcy - when he was in the camp of those who thought people were just lazy and greedy and the sad credit card companies and banks shouldn't have to pay the price.

    See Joe may well be absolutely, genuinely able to feel the pain others feel when they lose loved ones. But he was very much NOT able to feel the pain people who were struggling financially feltl when they were beset by powerful entities from all sides and had nowhere to turn. Watch the back and forth between him and Liz Warren during the judiciary committee hearings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InVvVzprIxQ

    Joe's concern was for the powerful. Yes, he heard Liz's points about how little people would be hurt and his response was to try to build in some things to mitigate the hurts - which betrayed a gigantic lack of empathy or understanding for what was happening to Americans who's income and security was being eroded from all sides. Joe lacked the vision (and he wasn't alone, to be fair) to grasp the bigger picture.

    Joe is, in my view, using a "conservative" tactic - which is to make it all about the individual, ignoring "the system". (Bernie, to his credit, focuses on "the system" - I think he has difficulties with "the individual". Liz can see both. But I digress.)

    I maintain my belief Joe is a fundamentally decent human being with a big heart and big areas of obliviousness. There's no question he'd be vast improvement over Blotus but so would every other candidate running.

    But I also maintain that Joe was very much a cog in the wheel that brought us TO Blotus. THAT part of his history and career must also be noted. Joe had real power as a Senator to affect people's lives - how did he wield it? To me that is significantly more important than his personal story of dealing with personal tragedy.

  37. [37] 
    Paula wrote:

    I JUST SAW THIS: swear to God I did not bring up the Bankruptcy bill coz of it - I've talked about that bill many times before.

    But apparently it's going to be the subject of $500,000 worth of attack ads against JB.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-28/biden-targeted-in-attack-ad-as-being-too-close-to-business

    A disgruntled investor has bought $500,000 worth of ads attacking Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden over a clash with Elizabeth Warren at a 2005 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    I guess we'll see if they have any impact. If JB is going to be the nominee he needs to be able to deal with exactly this accusation - that he chooses business interests over people.

  38. [38] 
    Paula wrote:

    I guess the ads are running in Iowa.

  39. [39] 
    Paula wrote:

    Now here's an article about JB I like - https://www.politico.com/story/2019/08/27/joe-biden-says-racism-white-mans-problem-1476629

    a 90-minute interview with a small group of reporters at a campaign office in downtown Washington, Biden said racism has always been in America and white supremacists have always existed.

    “It’s real,” he said. “It’s there, and the only way — from the founding of this country to today — you deal with it is you attack it. You expose it. You embarrass it. You put people in jail when they engage in things that are illegal when they’re doing it — you call them out. And most of all, you call it out to our children.”

    “Silence,” he warned, “is complicity.”

  40. [40] 
    Paula wrote:

    Kevin Drum:

    College-educated men haven’t been doing great: their incomes have been treading water for the past 40 years. But men with only a high-school diploma have simply cratered: their incomes have dropped by nearly $20,000 since 1973. Trump appeals to the white segment of this group with his racial demagoguery because he has no real economic message for them and neither do Democrats.

    The white working class may not be essential to Democrats these days, but it’s unquestionably a group that has suffered a lot in recent decades and would be receptive to a genuinely populist economic appeal—including, but not limited to, a truly full-throated commitment to unionization. It’s no wonder that Elizabeth Warren is making the inroads that she is.

    https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/08/working-class-men-have-lost-nearly-20000-over-the-past-40-years/

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    [40]

    For the record, there is no Democratic candidate for president who is more committed to and supportive of unions and unionization than Senator Biden.

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If JB is going to be the nominee he needs to be able to deal with exactly this accusation - that he chooses business interests over people.

    Well, he certainly needs to explain concisely why that accusation is untrue … for people who don't already know the accusation to be false.

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    [37],

    A disgruntled investor?

    Seriously?

    Does anyone here know anything about Biden's eventual support for the 2005 Bankruptcy bill and all that led up to his vote?

  44. [44] 
    Paula wrote:

    This piece went up a little bit ago: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/joe-biden-black-voters-crime-bill-877750/

    Perhaps the former vice president appears to believe it is that previous familiarity with black voters which is getting him by. He spoke with a group of black journalists recently and said something that I’m sure he thinks sounds like an embrace of black voters. To me, it came off more like a shrug in our direction.

    “People know me, or at least they think they know me, after all this time,” Biden said, per Astead Herndon of the New York Times. “They have a sense of who my character is and who I am — warts and all.”

    Campaigns shouldn’t be about what voters already know about a candidate, though. They need to be learning new things all the time: platforms, facts, strategies to win. Granted, Biden has been in government for so long that the past may seemingly outweigh any new information, but every single aspect of his campaign appears to be sourced from his past. (This includes a new Biden health care ad that promotes the ACA accomplishment while invoking the tragic deaths of his own children.)

    As Biden rambled on during a New Hampshire campaign appearance last week about the possibility of Obama being assassinated, I considered how that would have played in a majority-black setting. (Badly for him, would be my guess.) That led me to wonder why we haven’t seen much of him thus far in this campaign talking to the black communities that he told the Times he has “never, ever, ever, in my entire life, had a circumstance where I have felt uncomfortable,” introducing himself and his policies to our voters?

    I cannot help but wonder whether he and his campaign consider it too risky to put Biden in front of black folks who may have a particular image of him as a sidekick to their beloved Obama, and then he opens his mouth and they’re all confronted with the reality.

    The whole piece is interesting and touches on points I was making, plus more.

  45. [45] 
    Paula wrote:

    [43] Elizabeth: I didn't condone the disgruntled investor, I just reported the fact that she is funding attack ads against Biden.

    My point is that he's vulnerable with respect to his coddling-of-banks in the past and he's likely to need to address attacks on the subject. Further he needs to be able to defend himself effectively coz if he gets the nomination he WILL be attacked by Repubs for the same things. Their goal will be to damage Biden among Democrats and Independents - it doesn't matter that THEY are 1% servants who coddle banks and hurt the little guy. It WILL matter if Biden is perceived to do/be the same.

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Please explain to me how Biden has coddled banks and put corporate interests ahead of those of the people?

    Republicans can attack Biden all they want about anything and they'll get as far as Senators Harris and Booker did.

    And, as for Biden being a mere side-kick to Obama and uncomfortable in front of black folks, well, this is yet another assertion by an ill-informed writer that couldn't be further from the truth.

    Biden has been deeply connected with the black community long before Barack Obama won his first election for public office.

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Speaking of sitting senators who make false accusations about Biden, Senator Warren had better tread carefully on that score during the next debate.

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I didn't condone the disgruntled investor, I just reported the fact that she is funding attack ads against Biden. My point is that he's vulnerable with respect to his coddling-of-banks

    Then, Paula, you should use better examples than the wholly ironic "disgruntled investor" when trying to make your point.

  49. [49] 
    Paula wrote:

    [48] EM: nonsense. It doesn't matter WHO is financing the attack ads or why when the point is the ads are out there and will need to be addressed.

    As for {46] And, as for Biden being a mere side-kick to Obama and uncomfortable in front of black folks, well, this is yet another assertion by an ill-informed writer that couldn't be further from the truth.

    That's a stupid stupid statement by you. What precisely do YOU know about Jamil Smith who writes for Rolling Stone? Exactly how is it that YOU can assert that YOU know more about how Black Americans are responding to Biden than does a black reporter who's been talking to black voters on the topic about which he writes?

    You are not offering an effective defense of Biden and if that's the best his ardent defenders can do - simply announcing anyone who has an objection doesn't know they're talking about - he's gonna be in trouble.

    BTW you misinterpreted the quote about Biden being comfortable/uncomfortable. Read it again.

    Smith is asking the question: "why hasn't Biden done more meetings with black voter groups since he says he's never been uncomfortable with them". He's not saying Biden is uncomfortable - he's saying Biden claims to be very comfortable with them so why isn't he talking to them more now?

    Do better.

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula,

    Yeah, it looks like I royally messed up Smith's piece.

    Probably because I didn't read it and just quickly glossed over the quotes you provided.

    I will do better!

  51. [51] 
    Kick wrote:

    TS
    32

    What a difference a day makes in the polls. Monmouth looks like an outlier.

    You called that one, TS. Monmouth has now declared their own poll an outlier. :)

  52. [52] 
    Kick wrote:

    Paula
    37

    Joe's schtick is that he's "extra-sympathetic" because he's been through tragedy. So have lots of other people, many of whom didn't/don't have the protections he's had. Many of whom didn't when he was busily taking away people's ability to file for bankruptcy - when he was in the camp of those who thought people were just lazy and greedy and the sad credit card companies and banks shouldn't have to pay the price.

    Oh, we're oversimplifying. Fun. Have you seen Elizabeth Warren's 1980 paper Regulated Industries' Automatic Cost of Service Adjustment Clauses: Do They Increase or Decrease Cost to the Consumer? arguing that utility companies were over-regulated and should receive automatic rate increases and dismissing the concerns of consumer advocates as "fallacious"?

    https://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2547&context=ndlr

    Elizabeth Warren was a registered conservative until 1996. Discuss.

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