Campaign 2020: Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat

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            As one of the few pundits who correctly called the 2016 election for Donald Trump, it would be wise to rest on my laurels rather than risk another prediction, one that might turn out wrong.

But how would that be fun? Let the 2020 political prognostications begin!

The arithmetic of the 2016 Republican presidential primaries is repeating itself on the Democratic side in 2020: a big field of candidates, one of whom commands a plurality by virtue of name recognition—which implies higher “electability”—while his 20-or-so opponents divvy up the rest of the single-digit electoral scraps.

The Trump 2016 dynamic will probably play out the same way when Democratic delegates are counted at the 2020 convention. But the outcome in November 2020 is likely to be the opposite: Trump gets reelected.

Here’s how I see it playing out.

In 2016 there were 17 “major” (corporate media-approved) GOP presidential candidates. Famous and flamboyant, Donald Trump consistently polled around 30% throughout the primaries. That left his 16 relatively obscure rivals to fight over the remaining 70%. Considering that 70% divided by 16 comes to 4.4%, his runner-ups Ben Carson (14%), Ted Cruz (9%) and Marco Rubio (9%) outperformed the field. Yet Trump’s lead was too big. They couldn’t catch him.

Twenty-four Democrats are running in 2020. Here again, we have one really famous guy—it’s hard to get more famous than former vice president of the United States—plus the rest. In this contest, the odds of an upset are even longer. Joe Biden polls at around 38%, significantly better than Trump did. The remaining pie slice is smaller than Carson, Cruz, Rubio, etc. and gets chopped up into even more pieces.

Next comes Bernie Sanders—the early frontrunner, now number two—at about 18%, with Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg each getting about 8%. (62% divided by 23 equals 2.7%.) Although Sanders is suffering from his failure to follow my advice to move left, it’s also easy to see why progressives suspect another DNC conspiracy to screw him.

“Having many candidates is a standard Democratic Party tactic to draw down support for any insurgent candidate,” writes Rodolfo Cortes Barragan, a candidate for Congress from south L.A. “When it was just Bernie vs. Hillary, all the anti-Hillary Democratic voters had to go somewhere, and they all went to Bernie. But now Bernie’s votes will be split with progressive icons like Warren and Gabbard, as well as with progressive-sounding corporate politicians like Buttigieg, Harris, and Biden.”

Here I will insert my standard disclaimer that the elections are an eternity away, that things can and will change, you never know what will happen, blah blah blah.

But as things stand at this writing, Biden will probably take the nomination unless he dies or there’s a new scandal.

After the summer 2020 conventions, the 2016 scenario diverges from 2020.

I tend to discount “blue no matter who” and “anyone but Trump” chatter from centrist Democrats who argue that this president is such a threat to everything good and decent about the world that everyone must set their personal preferences aside in order to vote the bastard out. Besides, many of the people who urge unity have no credibility. They voted for Hillary but if Bernie had been the nominee they would not have turned out for him. Progressives weren’t born yesterday. Tired of 40 years of marginalization, they turned a deaf ear to the Clintonites’ self-serving unity pleas, boycotted the general election and denied Hillary her “inevitable” win.

And here’s the thing: they don’t feel bad about it.

If anything the schism in the Democratic Party between the progressive majority (72%) and corporatist centrist voters has widened and hardened over the past three years. Both sides are intransigent: Hillary’s voters accuse Bernie’s boycotters of handing the White House to Trump; Bernie’s supporters point to polls that consistently showed he, not Clinton, could have beat Trump.

Progressives are still angry that the Democratic establishment cheated Bernie Sanders out of the nomination last time. News that they’re doing the same thing now has enraged them.

That includes progressives who plan to vote for one of the other progressives or progressives-come-lately. By any measure, Joe Biden is not progressive. He’s number one in the polls but far behind the aggregate total of his progressive opponents. (I omit zero-policy candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg and centrists like Amy Klobuchar from my back-of-the-envelope calculations even though their support includes some progressives.) The party is ramming Biden the corporatist down the throats of Democratic primary voters using classic divide-and-conquer.

It will work. The Democrats will emerge from this nomination fight even more divided than the last cycle. Like the Mad Queen at the conclusion of “Game of Thrones,” Biden will inherit the ruins of a party he destroyed.

Trump goes into 2020 stronger than ever. Republicans are unified. Democrats look like fools for the debunked Russiagate fiasco and like wimps for refusing to try to impeach him. The economy looks strong. If the president lays off Iran, we’ll be relatively at peace. In the Rust Belt swing states it’s not just Republicans who like his trade wars. Abortion will not motivate as many voters as liberals hope.

At the same time, Joe Biden is the worst candidate in the Democratic field, even worse than Hillary Clinton. Some progressives voted for her because of her history-making potential as first woman president and her role trying to make healthcare policy. Biden offers nothing like that for progressive voters. He’s a warmonger who voted to kill a million people in Iraq. He’s against Medicare for all. He undermined Anita Hill, pretended to apologize years after the fact, and then took it back. And he’s just another old white man. No one is excited about him.

Only one thing can defeat Donald Trump: a unified, enthusiastic, progressive front. Biden’s rivals should pick one of their own, drop out and pledge to campaign for him or her. OK, two things: Biden should quit for the good of his party. Of course neither of these will happen.

I currently predict that Trump will win bigly.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

17 thoughts on “Campaign 2020: Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat

  1. Ted,

    I still don’t see Biden as a threat. As you point out, there’s a long time to go before the primaries. There’s a lot of time for a scandal to kneecap him. Also, as you mentioned, he could die before the election.

    However, I think you’re underestimating Bernie Sanders. I’m always suspicious of polls, and I think there’s a big problem that the poll takers don’t want to admit. Not only do they under-represent people who don’t have landlines, even the polls that do reach out to cellphone users are challenged by the vast number of people who will not answer their cellphone unless they know who it is. So you’re tending toward older people on most of these polls.

    As a Bernie Sanders supporter, I am still pissed about how Hank K.’s best war criminal buddy Hillary Clinton stole the election from Sanders with her centrist entitlement that allowed her and her cohort to tamper with the election process (the very thing they still keep claiming that Trump/the Russians did). Am I going to answer a poll? No. Why? Because I’ve had it with the whole goddamned system and all the deception it contains. Why would I waste my time with what smells, looks, and sounds like more fivethirtyeight bullshit that’s probably being ordered by the election thieves over at the dnc?

    More seriously though, I suspect that as the primary elections get closer, Biden’s numbers versus Trump will, as you argue, become unsustainable. Even the dnc election criminals will realize that Trump’s going to eat Biden alive. I think Biden (or more likely, his wife) will “suddenly” have a health “crisis” that requires the “family” to drop out of the election.

    • I share your hopes, and also predict that Bernie’s numbers will rise as the field narrows.

      I’d love to see the Democratic voters sue the shit out of the DNC as well. (“Breach of contract” probably)

      • I think treason is more applicable in this case. Hell, do both. Hill already has a million deaths on her rap sheet…I mean conscience.
        🙁

      • Alex – while I often agree with you, I don’t think Hillary has conscience.

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

        😉

    • Alex, I usually agree with you in great detail but I don’t see how another Dem can defeat Biden. He seems to have this in the bag. But it is still early.

      • Barbara Tuchman wrote “The March of Folly,” way way back in the 1980s. Her thesis was to examine “woodenheadedness.” In her usage, not just a miscalculation, not just hard luck, but a mistake in policy contrary to self-interest. Her main case study was the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
        According to Tuchman, the policy had to have certain characteristics in order to qualify. (The wikipedia entry gives a breakdown, and I’m summarizing from that):
        1. Not an individual’s error but a group’s
        2. Not the only policy available
        3. Pursued despite misgivings that it was a mistake.

        Look at the dnc/party ruling class behavior in 2016. It satisfies all three criteria. Look at the dnc/party ruling class behavior now, in the run up to 2020.
        1. A group error. Biden might win the primary, but, just like with the war criminal Hillary Clinton, he can’t win the general. The group thinks that Biden will unify the party somehow for the general election because he isn’t Trump. That was the exact thing Hillary Clinton ran on, that she wasn’t Trump. And she lost. Bigly.
        2. Not the only choice. Biden isn’t the only choice. In fact, Sanders is the only choice because this time, NONE of the Sanders supporters are going to vote for the democratic offering. (Vote for Biden? I’d sooner take an electric handmixer to my nether regions.) Why? Look at the dem field. How many of the possibly viable candidates are Clinton Clones? That is, how many are business-friendly, Republican-lite, say-anything liars? The rest? They don’t have enough name recognition to coalesce a national campaign. Without Sanders’ supporters, the democratic candidate cannot win. It’s mathematically impossible. It’s like raising government spending, cutting taxes, and balancing the budget all at once (i.e., Reaganomics). You can’t make the numbers work.
        3. There is PLENTY of commentary out there already that’s telling the dems the same basic thing: Biden will guarantee four more years of Trump.
        So the democratic party is now confronted not just with the risk of committing “woodenheadedness,” but of actually squaring it. They’ve got the examples of Troy, Vietnam, the American colonies breaking from England, and all the mistakes the papacy made half a millennium ago (Tuchman used four examples, but Vietnam was her major one), AS WELL AS the freshly minted disaster that was the Idiot Hillary’s campaign (a whole other level of woodenheadedness, too, so it’s now the cube of woodenheadedness–literally, blockhead behavior–for the democratic leadership to stare at.
        In brief: the democrats simply cannot be so thick as to not see this coming at them. Biden cannot win. They though Hillary Clinton losing to a D-list celebrity was bad? Doing the exact same thing four years later by running a loser candidate will be the ne plus ultra of political fiascos. There, literally, will be no possible way to commit a greater political screwup within the remaining life span of the universe.
        Technically, you’re correct that no democratic candidate can beat Biden because Sanders is not a democrat, but in a less literal sense, Sanders has forced the nomination. The dems might not want to swallow it, but even if Sanders calls each of his supporters himself and asks then to, more than enough of the Berniecrats simply will not back another candidate. Bernie finessed the dnc into a corner.
        A few more months and they’ll be in the Kubler-Ross stages, somewhere between denial and anger. They won’t be able to believe Biden’s ratings are going to shit, and they’ll be furious about it.
        Bargaining will consist of trying to spotweld a coalition of some sort by getting all the usual suspects to endorse Biden: trot out the women’s groups, the black groups, the trade groups, the police, the teachers, the nurses, etc. Trot them all out for as many pancake breakfasts and rubber chicken lunches as you can. Then comes the depression as, goddamnshitmotherfuck, there’s Sanders with even more supporters. Where’s he finding all these goddamned people? I don’t know if acceptance will arrive in time for the dnc leadership. Quite possibly, they will all be out of work before they “accept” that they did this to themselves.
        I sincerely hope so.

    • I would agree in thinking that Bernie has a better chance than Ted is giving him. Especially after today when “Biden the Plagiarist” made a return thanks to his inept campaign. There’s also the fact that he’s not doing many rallies because of how few people show up, focusing on fundraising like Hillary did. His polls are dropping significantly already and we haven’t had the first debate yet, where it’s likely he’ll be the #1 target of everybody else. Bernie could win in both Iowa (where the polls are already tied between Bernie & Joe) and New Hampshire, and of course every candidate who’s done that has gone on to win his/her party’s nomination.

      On the other hand, there’s the evidence that election results were altered in the 2016 primary enough to swing the nomination to Hillary. Go look up Election Justice USA’s report:

      http://www.p2016.org/chrnothp/Democracy_Lost_Update1_EJUSA.pdf

      They got away with it once, they’ll do it again, and will Bernie say something this time- nope, he’ll be like Kerry in 2004 after Ohio was stolen by Karl Rove (it took until Kerry’s memoirs were published last year for him to finally admit he thinks the 2004 election was stolen in Ohio). Certainly there’s plenty of motive- a Sanders presidency would mean hundreds of billions of dollars lost in profits to defense contractors, insurance companies, oil companies, etc. Why shouldn’t they pay Diebold and the other voting machine companies to insert a little software that takes votes from Bernie and hands them to Biden? We’re not allowed to even look at the code in those machines, and they’re so easy to hack 12-year olds can do it in minutes. There’s a single company doing exit polls, and they admit to adjusting their exit polls to match the machine results, so you would never know if they were stealing the vote. Or there’s always the Sirhan Sirhan option if Bernie takes a convincing lead in the primary. (I’m almost done reading Lisa Pease’s book on the evidence of conspiracy in the RFK assassination so it’s definitely on my mind)

      Not to mention Microsoft & the Department of Homeland Security is moving in to provide “security” for the voting machines.

      https://www.mintpressnews.com/microsoft-electionguard-a-trojan-horse-for-a-military-industrial-takeover-of-us-elections/258732/

  2. Once again: Bernie also voted for the Iraq war. (This is not a defense of Biden, it’s simply an under-reported real true fact)

    Beto O’Rourke does have policy on his web page. (this is not a support of Beto, it’s simply a real true fact)

    But find it absolutely hilarious the way that the deniers keep saying that the Podesta email leaks were a big fucking deal, while out of the other end of their alimentary canal they insist that this bigly huge shocking reveal didn’t affect anyone’s vote. (this is not a defense of the DNC’s actions, it’s simply pointing out the massive cognitive dissonance that still plagues the deniers)

    • To CH:

      What, exactly, is “this bigly huge shocking reveal.”

      Podesta, the arrogant, if miserably stupid, chair of the HRC campaign, offered up his own emails to a “phishing” ploy. There was no leak nor hack.

      • That the DNC didn’t play nice – isn’t that what all the noise is about?

      • > offered up his own emails to a “phishing” ploy

        So… his plan was to help Hillary by publishing damning evidence against her and the DNC? I find that rather unlikely.

        According to the Mueller report, 90 spearphishing emails were sent by Russian hackers to email accounts at hillaryclinton.com between March 10 and March 15, 2016.

        Also that 29 computers on the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee network were compromised by Russian intelligence.

        He’s got texts between the hackers and Wikileaks.

        Can you provide the same level of evidence to support your hypothesis?

      • To CH:

        By “offered up” I meant Podesta was so stupid as to be duped by the phishing expedition … of whomever.

        Think of it as a national presidential campaign chairperson’s equivalent of rushing to send a certified check to the sweet-sounding email of a Nigerian prince who has fallen on hard times.

        To be clear, I did NOT say that Podesta was undermining HRC … THAT, we know, is what he was doing to Sanders. I said ONLY that he was/is apparently as naive about cyber security as HRC herself was shown to be by the then ongoing investigation into her use of a private server for government business.

        If the DNC did not want the risk of affecting voters then they should not have committed election fraud against Sanders, or if unable to adhere to the law, it should NOT have had such an unadulterated twit at the head of the campaign.

        So, again, it comes down to, IF and WHEN the FBI is given the DNC servers for analysis. The DNC having given them only to a private company, with which it had had previous business, is a brazen insult to logic, law, “Democratic” Party voters and the country itself.

        Mueller’s report is essentially NOTHING for not having demanded them as his first official act as special counsel.

        PS: It is not clear why we need to take Russia seriously about anything, if, as the Mueller narrative implies, its TOP 12 intelligence officers are unable to perform cyber meddling without being able to hide their identities. By the way, how are those extraditions going?

      • «So, again, it comes down to, IF and WHEN the FBI is given the DNC servers for analysis. The DNC having given them only to a private company, with which it had had previous business, is a brazen insult to logic, law, “Democratic” Party voters and the country itself.

        Mueller’s report is essentially NOTHING for not having demanded them as his first official act as special counsel.» Nailed it, falco. Not unexpectedly, in this respect Mr Mueller’s report is an utter fraud, as people who (unlike our favourite foul-mouthed troll) know something about this matter have pointed out, access to the DNC mails was the result of a leak, not a hack….

        Henri

      • falco – I guess I misunderstood your original reply.

        We don’t know whether Podesta was one of the people who got phished. Usually, phishers target admins – people who have larger-than-average rights on the system. (Like the right to install server software.)

        > THAT, we know, is what he was doing to Sanders

        So … the leak was a big deal, after all? I agree.

        > IF and WHEN the FBI is given the DNC servers for analysis.

        Originally the DNC called in a private firm – true. But when it became obvious that it was a foreign threat they turned the investigation over to the feds.

        Today, the feds do have the emails and binaries, etc.

        > Mueller’s report is essentially NOTHING

        The first ten pages are an executive summary, and they’re not written in legalese. You might want to read them. There’s just a whole lot more than the email leaks.

        As for editorials written by uninvolved and uninformed parties prior to the release of the report: PFF-FFF-FFFT! Not only are they obsolete in light of *facts*, but they were based on speculation and wishful thinking in the first place.

  3. Ted, here I go again, interfering in your country’s elections, but I can’t help remarking that it would be nice to see a Sanders/Gabbard ticket for the Democrats, Mr Sanders for his domestic policies, Ms Gabbard to keep him from the consuetudinal military adventures to which the US is so prone (and to which, I suspect, it will turn even more, as the spectre of a multipolar world firghtens and frustrates it). That’s what I should like to see – but I suspect we are much more likely to get something on the order of a Biden/Harris ticket, which, like you, I believe Mr Trump will blow out of the water. If only the United States didn’t possess thousands of nuclear warheads !…

    Henri

  4. Here’s my reserve happy fantasy.

    Trump gets reelected, but dems take the Senate. Impeachment is not only possible, but damned near inevitable.

    Yay! (and I want a pony for Christmas)

  5. And completely on a sidebar … I hafta congratulate Ted for finding the photos he uses. I recall feeling a deep pang of irritation when seeing Reagan’s face. Photos of Dubya’s face elicited a much more intense gut reaction of contempt and revulsion. But wow, that photo–that specific photo–of Hillary just really sickens me. God, she really, really thinks she’s just swell, doesn’t she?