April 28, 2019

Some Thoughts on Joe Biden

resist Trump

Now that Joe Biden has entered the race for president, does he have any chance of winning the Democratic nomination? It is hard to say. Had Biden ran in 2016, I suspect he might have won the Democratic primary. If he had managed to win that primary, I think he might have beaten Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. But that was 2016. I do not expect 2020 to be the same as 2016. Even though Biden is currently leading the polls, it is not clear to me whether he will be able to get through a Democratic primary now that the party has moved more to the left. If he says and does everything he will need to pass the so-called "woke litmus tests" of the far left, he could potentially lose the support of the Democrats who previously voted for Trump.

Assuming that Biden did win the upcoming primary, how competitive would he be against Trump in 2020? Some Democrats believe that he has the best chance of beating Trump as anyone running. I can see why they would say that. Biden probably would have beaten Trump in 2016, and some Republican operatives are on the record saying that Biden is the one they are most worried about this time. It is tempting to argue that he's the Democrats' best chance of winning.

Of course, it is not hard to imagine a scenario where Biden can't generate the sort of enthusiasm he would need to get voters to the polls, suffering a similar fate as Hillary Clinton. If much of the enthusiasm was with the progressive wing of the Democratic party and if this wing was not united behind Biden because they were bitter over whichever more progressive candidate he had defeated in the primary, he could lose.

Biden is far from my first choice, but I could vote for him in a general election if he did somehow manage to win the primary. That said, it is hard to imagine that I'd be as enthusiastic about doing so as I might if a different candidate were to advance to the general election. Based on what I have been seeing on Twitter (yes, I realize that the political attitudes expressed on Twitter rarely reflect those of the general population), there are many on the left who would not support Biden.

If the narrative forming around Biden (i.e., he has the best chance of beating Trump) continues, Democrats may be faced with the choice of supporting an imperfect candidate who might be able to beat Trump vs. a superior candidate who might not be able to do so. As for me, I remain skeptical that any of the Democrats currently running has much of a chance to beat Trump. Unless that changes, I am inclined to support the candidates I'd most like to see in office.