After a week of mostly bad reelection news, Biden has only one choice

(Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

After a week of mostly bad reelection news, Biden has only one choice

On Ed

Jonah Goudberg

November 14, 2023

One of Joe Biden’s favorite campaign lines is: don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative. In the wake of a series of polls earlier This month, Democrats panicked as voters in key battleground states did just that and chose Donald Trump as their preferred candidate.

Public panic subsided a bit after last week’s elections, in which Democrats scored some victories in Virginia, Kentucky and especially Ohio. But privately, Democrats remain deeply concerned. And they should be. If the election were held today, Biden would almost certainly lose.

The good news for Biden is that if the election were happening today, framing is not a particularly fruitful way to think about a year after the election. If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, that will still be the case, but not to the extent that a tsunami of negative ads and negative reporting will quickly follow.

But will it work? It is not that the reporting on Trump has been so positive so far. Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report notes that Trump’s support in most battleground states is almost exactly his share of the 2020 vote. Trump hasn’t won many supporters, but he hasn’t lost many either. It is Biden who has lost voters across the board. In 2020, Biden won the electoral college thanks to just 43,000 votes in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia. Trump now leads in two of those states.

Complicating matters further, dissatisfaction with a Biden-Trump election invites competition. At this point I think a third party run would be doomed. But it’s not hard to see how Cornel West, Jill Stein (who is running for the Green Party), Robert F. Kennedy


or possibly Joe Manchin as a No Labels candidate, could take away more than enough voters to guarantee an electoral college victory for Trump (though it’s entirely possible that Kennedy, an anti-vax crank, could take more votes from Trump could get from Biden).

I think Biden got into this mess in part because he made the common mistake of overestimating his 2020 victory and raising expectations for his presidency. Again, you would think Biden wouldn’t have made this mistake and not just because of the whole, compare me to the alternative tactic. The data

what were

It was clear all along that large numbers of Biden voters were voting against Trump, not for Biden. In a major Morning Consult 2020 survey of people who voted for Biden, 44% said they cast their vote more as a vote against Donald Trump than for Joe Biden.

It should be noted


that some of those voters were not anti-Trump Republicans, independents and moderates, as many analysts tend to assume. Some were far to his left. After all, you can just as easily imagine a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren voter saying they voted against Trump instead of Biden as you can imagine a Liz Cheney Republican saying that.

Biden’s dilemma and his only way out lie in the fact that he has lost the support of both anti-Trump forces and moderate Republicans. Significant numbers of young, black and Latino Democrats are angry with Biden, and so are independents. In July


2021 before the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden had 61% support among independents. Now it is 37%.

The Democrats’ response to these dismal numbers, at least publicly, is to point out that President Obama also performed very poorly in the polls during the same period in 2011, and yet Obama handily defeated his opponent, Senator Mitt Romney. Reasonable. But does anyone think Biden can campaign like Obama did? Do they think he has the special connection with young and minority voters that Obama had? Because of Biden’s age, a collective term for his chronological age, as well as his mental acuity and energy level, the Biden campaign is already considering a Rose Garden strategy that mirrors his 2020 basement strategy. The difference between now and then is that Biden had to justify COVID

run his run

from the basement in 2020. Avoiding the campaign trail will only reinforce the idea that he doesn’t have the energy to tackle the hustings.

The only path the president can take is to consolidate and expand the anti-Trump coalition, not the pro-Biden coalition, including new, energetic abortion rights advocates. It is very difficult to understand how he manages to get many Democrats excited to vote for Joe Biden. But he can get them excited about voting

in return for

Donald Trump. So expect to hear, don’t compare me to that

an A

mighty, compare me with the alternative for next year.



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