Don’t Believe Everything You See

Joe Biden is leading the Democratic polls in almost unanimous fashion and has been as far as the 2020 field has been polled. Once he announced his candidacy, we saw a substantial bump in his popularity at the expense of hot headed Bernie Sanders. Biden has all the name ID and is descended from a popular two-term democratic President. Take a look at the chart below, where you see Biden leading the horserace long before he declared. Bernie has managed to keep his reliable and dedicated calvary in his court from 2016 all the way up until now. screenshot taken May 30, 2019

In spite of this, Joe is not the clear leader. Think back to 2016. Hillary was long the favorite, but wound up struggling up until near the end of the primary season to Sanders, who came out of the abyss to wrap his tentacles around her neck. And on the other side of the aisle, Jeb! led the race there for many months before Trump quartered him. You can even look back to the Republican battle in 2012, where Romney lead polls and then one Republican after another took the lead and gave it back, beating Romney to a pulp by the time he was nominated. What we need to remember is the crystal clear fact that the polls indicating these so called clear leaders are structurally flawed. They ask the following question: If the election were held today, which candidate would you vote for? The problem with that question is obvious as the sky is blue. The election is not being held today. In fact, it is just shy of a year away for many primary voters.

These horserace polls are produced because readers like you and me can’t help but follow. They appeal to a hard wired feature of our humanoid nature, one where we always want to know who’s ahead, who’s going to win a competition, and who’s going to screw us over when we get elected. That means we pay attention, we watch, we click, and generate ad revenue for media companies. Each time they do a poll, they get a news story guaranteed to make money. That’s what you’re buying into by following these meaningless polls. They don’t analyze how strong support is or if a candidate is being chosen over others, rather than because a name is easy to remember.

We still have a long walk ahead of us before we start to see a true front runner emerge as the bull in this contest. The Democrats still have to see who else is going to run, as candidates beget candidates. We still have to see who forgets which department they want to overhaul, who has undiscovered scandals in waiting, who can’t raise money, and who gets the message wrong. I’m willing to bet Biden has a few of those to be considered. Not to mention, there’s a platoon of other candidates with dirt waiting to be dug up. Timing is everything and response goes hand in hand.

As we all know, the political news cycle is fickle, easy, and fast. In a week, the environment will be completely different. The shine will be gone from Biden’s campaign announcement, the other candidates will have had chances to respond, and Trump will have tweeted an estimated 3,922 times, each one changing the game. In short, just sit back and enjoy the race.

Why Uncle Joe Isn't What Democrats Want

Ok, we all love Uncle Joe, which is why we call him Uncle. There are so many lovable moments featuring him using colorful, down to earth, and clean curse words. I don’t know if you’re like me or not, but foul language makes me feel more at home and like I’m not being judged. If we could get a President willing to unceremoniously yell fuck from the stage at a campaign rally, I’d fall in line behind them.

Her accidency, Sarah Palin, helped lay the groundwork for Joe’s relatability in 2008 when she came on stage at the only Vice-Presidential debate in that election. She nearly sprinted at Biden and said “Can I call you Joe?” It only escalated from there and peaked when we overheard Biden say to Obama, “this is a big fucking deal” when Obamacare was passed. Add to that scenes of Biden riding Amtrak early and often, and seeing him grieve on Stephen Colbert a couple years ago when his son died and we have someone everyone has in their family.

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But, that’s not the only thing that matters. Yes, sometimes candidates ask the question, “who would you rather have a beer with?” But we have to take into account so many other factors. Once you start looking into other things, you start to see that Joe Biden’s ship sailed so long ago, it has already hit an iceberg.

First, Democrats are infatuated with the idea of diversity. That’s all we hear and see, with nearly every policy of theirs being geared toward including african-americans, hispanics, asian-americans, women, and lgtbq. In fact, if you look at the entire slate of Democratic candidates, we are seeing the most diverse field ever. Joe Biden does not have this going for him. He’s your typical white guy insider, having served in Congress before being elected VP.

Biden does address the diversity question in his campaign kickoff video and website. In that video, he highlights the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, VA and says that indicates America is under a threat unlike any in his lifetime. The video launches his campaign on a moral theme, talking about nothing else in the three and a half minute video. We will see how it plays when a white guy hangs his entire campaign on racial issues. In the past, it didn’t seem to work out very strongly.

There’s also the insider question. Democrats don’t seem to want an insider as their nominee. They seem to want a greenhorn or at least someone who doesn’t go with leadership and who goes out on their own limb. We see that in Bernie Sander’s polling numbers, which are better than Uncle Joe’s and in the surging strength of Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Biden comes up dramatically short on the insider question. Biden was first elected to the US Senate in 1972. 1972! That was before Watergate, Apple Computer, and the birth of half of the US population. He’s got the inside track to countless consultants and campaign infrastructure because of his 2 campaigns in 08 and 12, and his name ID is very high. Virtually any voter is going to recognize his name, which is why he probably has decided to throw his hat in the ring.



But, as discussed in FiveThirtyEight’s Politics podcast, Democrats are growing tired of the same old thing. They’re growing tired of the same old, tired eyes you see with Pelosi and Schumer, and Biden would be yet another overly familiar stone face put in the White House for at least four years. And with Pelosi staying put for the foreseeable future, a Biden Presidency would be almost a complete reincarnation of our government from earlier this decade.

Then there are Biden’s similarities to Trump. While Biden clearly wants to be the anti-Trump candidate in his video, many Democratic candidates are going to compare him to Trump. Recent scandals where Biden was accused of inappropriately touching women and invading their personal space make you picture Mad Men, where men do what they want and women were forced to just stand there and take it- something Trump is famous for doing. Expect Democrats to claim Biden is part of that old culture that didn’t and still doesn’t respect personal space. It’ll undermine his strength with women voters for sure.

Would Biden make a good President? Almost certainly. The issue isn’t his qualifications- it’s the optics.