Let’s dispense with the notion that name ID explains why former Vice President Joe Biden is repeatedly showing up with double and triple the support of other Democrats in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina and in national polls.
The reason Biden is the top pick of more Democrats than any of the others is pretty simple: more than anything else, Democrats want to defeat President Donald Trump and they see Biden – with all his baggage, warts and limitations – as the candidate most likely to deliver.
At this point in the race, they’re right.
Into the Stature Gap Biden is the one candidate who can stand toe-to-toe with Trump and say he won’t be Putin’s lapdog or Kim’s errand boy. As far as most Democrats are concerned, that’s more important than Biden’s support for the 1994 Crime Bill, his mistreatment of Anita Hill during the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings, his support for the Iraq War in 2002 or any other dodgy aspect of his record.
Why? Because he was Barack Obama’s devoted vice president and he’s positioned – at least for now – to hold all the blue states Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and take back Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Because that’s all the Democrats have to do to kick Trump to the curb.
There’s more than a little unintended racism among the political analysts who assume that Senators Kamala Harris or Cory Booker are destined to soar in South Carolina and other states where black votes are critical. What that analysis overlooks is the fact that black voters (and especially black women) – more than any others – want to beat Trump.
It’s why a number of black leaders have suggested that their dream ticket for 2020 would be Biden-Harris.
We’ve Seen This Movie Before We’re reminded of one of our earliest forays into presidential politics back in the Dark Ages, when Fritz Hollings, Jesse Jackson and Walter Mondale were vying in December 1983 for the endorsement of the Alabama Democratic Conference – one of the most important black organizations in the South. Jackson, the civil rights leader with strong ties throughout the region, made a soaring, impassioned plea, but when the dust settled in Mobile, ADC endorsed Mondale as the Democratic Party’s best hope against Ronald Reagan.
Fortunately for the Democrats, Trump has none of the charm or political skills Reagan had and with the right candidate, he can be defeated.
But not if Democrats – whoever they wind up choosing – shoot themselves in the foot by selecting a candidate who kowtows to the demands of the most liberal fringes of their party in a vainglorious attempt to sweep the Left at the expense of the Middle.
P.S. After this was posted, The Quinnipiac Poll ran a special crosstab for Calbuzz of its survey of registered Democrats in Pennsylvania showing that Biden and Cory Booker do slightly better when non-whites are in the sample while Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren do slightly worse. So, non-whites boost Biden’s big lead — 39-13% over Bernie Sanders, who comes in second.