Monday, July 29, 2019


A few weeks ago I told you that Joe Biden wasn't in freefall, and now look what's happening:
Former Vice President Joseph Biden reverses his slump following the first Democratic presidential debate and now leads the pack with 34 percent of Democrats and independent voters who lean Democratic, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has 15 percent, with 12 percent for California Sen. Kamala Harris and 11 percent for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

This compares to results of a July 2 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University National Poll, showing Biden with 22 percent, Harris with 20 percent, Warren with 14 percent and Sanders with 13 percent.
Biden is up 12 points in less than a month. He has the support of a majority -- not a plurality -- of black voters: 53%. No one else is in double digits. He gets 25% of "very liberal" Democrats.

A bad debate did no long-term damage. His age doesn't seem to concern voters.

I know we're months away from the first contest, but while a shakeup in the standings is quite possible, it's far from inevitable. Remember: By this time four years ago, Donald Trump had taken the lead in the GOP presidential contest. Apart from a day or two in the fall of 2015, Trump never relinquished that lead. We have to seriously consider the possibility that Biden could lead this race from beginning to end.

Why would that happen? Here's my theory: The "liberal" media may be doing something similar to what the conservative press did during the 2016 primary contest, and in the years leading up to that contest. The right-wing media fed its audience on a steady diet of exaggerated and wholly manufactured outrages, until conservative voters were primed to vote for the closest thing they could get to The Onion's shrieking white-hot sphere of pure rage in 2016. Trump hated everything the conservative press's audience hated (because he was a consumer of the same press), and he built his campaign on little more than rage. He was the perfect candidate for the Limbaugh/Fox/Breitbart era.

What the mainstream media has been doing for months is priming swing voters to despise everything genuinely progressive. These voters aren't haters, but they're extremely susceptible to the argument that seriously left-wing ideas are beyond the pale. The media is now validating and valorizing centrists' hesitancy about progressives. It's helping to create a new archetypal voter: the sorta-liberal anti-progressive.

As a result, all criticism of Biden, even perfectly legitimate criticism, is seen by these sorta-liberals as part of a foolishly misguided effort to drive the Democratic Party left and thus, in their view, throw the 2020 election to Trump. It's giving Biden a degree of Teflon that's analogous to Trump's own: Every criticism of Biden makes his base want him more.

And because Democrats fear failure in a way Republicans don't, Biden also has a great deal of support among Democrats who are to the left of the sorta-liberals. Add up all those voters and he's in solid shape.

If the "liberal" media were genuinely progressive, it would be easier for a progressive nominee to get to the front of the pack. But the press is making that very difficult.

I'm not a Biden supporter, though obviously I'll be an enthusiastic voter in November 2020 if he's the nominee. Nevertheless, I think he's going to be extremely hard to beat in the primaries.

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