One of my best friends, strange as some might find it, is a deep-deep-blue, East Coast urban progressive who thought Barack Obama was too far to the right. That may seem odd, but he and I, a gun-toting, redneck libertarian Iowa farm-country kid who lives now in the Alaska woods, remain friends as we have been for fifteen years or so, but we do. It’s an odd kind of Oscar Madison/Felix Unger friendship, and it’s not based on avoiding topics, as we have and do debate politics late into the night over beers. Key point: Neither of us takes it personally; there are things we don’t agree on and things we do, and we remain friends despite our disagreements.
Frankly, plenty of folks could draw a lesson from that.
In 2016, it wasn’t uncommon to hear Dems hoping that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee. My friend was one of those people, opining that there was no way Trump could win, and as the election grew closer, he cited polls to support his assertion. And we all remember how that turned out. In an uncanny repeat of this, some Democrats now are likewise hoping for a Trump nomination. But can Joe Biden beat him again, assuming he’s the Democrat nominee? At Axios, commentators Alex Thompson and Erin Doherty have some thoughts.
Zoom in: Biden’s backers see Tuesday as a win-win: Either Trump dominates Nikki Haley in New Hampshire and the general election campaign effectively begins Wednesday — or Trump gets caught in a drawn-out primary at least until South Carolina’s GOP contest on Feb. 24.
- The president’s campaign has internal data indicating that most of the undecided voters Biden is targeting don’t think Trump will be the Republican nominee because they haven’t tuned into an election that’s more than nine months away.
- That’s led Biden’s team to believe the dynamics of the campaign will change significantly once those voters realize it really will be a Biden-Trump matchup in November, as CNN first reported.
- “This is counterintuitive…. Normally, you want the Republicans to fight it out and spend money,” former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki, who now has a show on MSNBC, said on “Meet the Press” this weekend.
- But now, “they want to run against Trump because they feel that is the best contrast to be drawn.”
Democrats should be careful what they wish for.
These assertions come on the day of the New Hampshire primary, which in the larger scheme of things isn’t that much of a much (sorry, any New Hampshire readers, but trust me, in Presidential elections, Alaska is even less much of a much). As of this writing, mid-day in Alaska time, Nikki Haley is surging to a lead in the Granite State primary, with six votes counted – not six districts, mind you, but six votes.
See Related: Haley Sweeps Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
Here’s the thing: Trump’s personal approval ratings aren’t that great, to be sure, but Joe Biden’s are even worse. Biden, too, has been doing the job for over three years now and has a record for the Trump people to hit him on – and it’s a record of near-complete failure. Polls, yes, are pretty iffy, especially when one remembers how badly the pollsters failed in 2016, but the ones we have are pretty encouraging for the Trump team. But it seems, as Thompson and Doherty report, that the Dems may be mistaken in counting on an enthusiasm gap to turn things their way.
Democratic voters aren’t as enthusiastic about Biden as Republican voters are about Trump now.
- A USA Today/Suffolk University poll this month found that 44% of GOP primary voters were “very enthusiastic” about Trump, while only 18% of Democratic primary voters said the same about Biden.
- An NBC poll in November found that 63% of Biden voters were more against Trump than for Biden.
- Trump raised $56.7 million from donors who gave $200 or less from the beginning of 2023 through Sept. 30, 2023, compared to Biden’s $27.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission data.
- Biden’s overall fundraising has been robust, in part because the maximum contribution limit is more than $900,000 for donations he raises with the Democratic National Committee.
Here’s what they don’t mention: Joe Biden’s ongoing and obvious deterioration.
They also don’t mention the third-party candidates that are coming on hard and fast, many of whom would presumably drain more Democrat than Republican votes.
It’s a long way to November, and a lot of things could change. But when Democrats look at Donald Trump as ensuring their own path to controlling the White House, they would do well to take a long, hard look at their own candidate first. Joe Biden might make it to November, but then again, he might not, and if the Democrats want to replace him (and the detestable Kamala Harris) at the top of the ticket, they are running out of time to do so.
At this point, there’s a really good chance that Donald Trump is going to get his comeback tour – and Democrats better be careful what they wish for, as they may get it.