Will Biden’s Strong Start Be Enough?

untitledThose with gray hair and grandchildren may recall the Presidential election of 1976.

Nixon had resigned. Gerald Ford was doing what he could to rally a Republican Party in disarray and Democrats smelled blood.

Candidates were thick on the ground. You had everyone from Jerry Brown to George Wallace wanting to be President. Mo Udall and Henry “Scoop” Jackson were two of my favorites and among the early leaders.

As I recall, it was a warm day when I asked a man whom I respected – a retired African-American U.S. Army sergeant – his choice for the Democratic nomination. He mentioned a name that was not on my radar.

I decided that I should learn more about Jimmy Carter. The field of candidates wanting to battle Donald Trump for the White House is the largest in history. Twenty of the 23 candidates will debate June 26 and 27 in 10-candidate heats.

The three who were cut failed to score a point in the polls or have 65,000 donors. Former Vice President Joe Biden, with more connections than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, has taken an early lead in the polls.

This should surprise no one. A presidential candidate in 1988 and 2008, the 76-year-old Biden has boots on the ground in almost every state and creds with Democratic Party leadership. Biden is crushing the Democratic field in Florida, according to Politico, including Bernie Sanders, in the latest polling.

More than one-third of Democratic state legislators endorsed Biden almost as soon as he announced his candidacy. Another key constituency lining up behind Biden early is the union vote. “I make no apologies: I am a union man,” Biden told the largely white crowd at a Pennsylvania Teamsters union hall, CNN reported.

Even former Hillary Clinton supporters are drinking the Kool-Aid. A Hill-HarrisX survey in mid-May showed 41 percent of former Clinton backers named Biden as their first choice to run against Trump.

It’s no wonder when a pollster demands to know who you like for the Democratic nomination, the top-of-mind answer is Biden. The former Veep’s message bashing Trump for abandoning white, working class voters in middle America does resonate.

A leaked Trump campaign poll aired on NBC’s Meet The Press showed Biden beating Trump in Virginia, Iowa and Ohio, all states Trump carried in 2016. Before releasing Joe from further campaign appearances and debates so he can write his acceptance speech or give him the key to the Oval Office restroom with the Bill Clinton historical marker, Democrats should take pause.

Much of the enthusiasm of this campaign is based on the premise that old white men have run this country long enough, as evidenced by six women seeking the nomination.

Biden may look a little shop-worn on the same debate stage with candidates under 60. There is also plenty of time for a Pete Buttigieg or Beto O’Rourke to capture the attention of fellow Democrats.

You may even find a dark horse like Marianne Williamson emerge from the pack. As far as November 2020 goes, something to bear in mind is that in the last 120 years only four presidents failed to win re-election.

Three were Republicans. Certainly, many Americans are ready for a change. Even that conservative scold, George Will, says he will be happy to see a new tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as long as Republicans continue to control the Senate.

In a 2020 interview advertising his new book, Will did offer a colorful caution. On Election Day, “will voters stick with the doofus they know or pick the doofus they don’t know?”

We will just have to wait and see.

 

 

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