Of course, it is still very early as the presidential race is 17 months from concluding. In addition, the Democrats will spend the next several months battling each other and Biden will be taking plenty of political hits from his opponents.
The former Vice President’s current situation is understandable because of his name recognition and the impression that he is the most moderate of the Democratic presidential candidates. Yet, this image is not accurate as Biden has never been a true moderate and, in recent weeks, he has tried to move to the hard left on several issues.
For example, despite a 40-year history of supporting the Hyde amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used to perform abortions, Biden reversed his position last week. This controversial move delighted the far left in the Democratic Party, but it will cost him the support among the swing voters and centrists who will determine the winner of the next election.
While Biden will certainly drop in the polls in the weeks and months ahead, the President’s support level has never been accurately reflected. In the 2016 election, Trump’s victory was dismissed as an impossibility by many pollsters. Almost none of them predicted either his triumph or his electoral college landslide with 304 votes.
Many Trump supporters may feel apprehensive about declaring support for the President on a poll. Since the media is so negative about the President, his supporters may not want to express their true sentiments. This could explain why his support level was not accurately reflected in 2016.
On Election Day 2016, the President received 46% of the vote against Hillary Clinton. Today, Trump’s approval numbers range from Quinnipiac University’s latest rating of 42% to the new poll results from Rasmussen, which show a 51% approval rating. Averaging those two polls shows the President at approximately the same level of support he achieved in the 2016 election. Thus, his supporters are still with him as he embarks on a re-election campaign.
The 2020 election, like all others, will be won by the candidate who can capture independent or “swing” voters. Both bases will be locked into supporting the party nominees, so it is always a race for the political center in the general election.
If Biden is the nominee and he has abandoned all his moderate positions, he may be in trouble. For Trump, his best argument to moderate voters will be the strong economy. In the new Quinnipiac poll, 70% of the respondents stated that the economy was doing well, but only 41% gave the President credit. If he can make the argument that his policies have helped boost the economy, his numbers will increase significantly. He can also contrast the economy during his term with the economy during the Obama/Biden administration. It is certainly much stronger today as indicated by a lower unemployment rate, higher economic growth, etc.
In the next 17 months, there will be many developments, both domestically and abroad, that will impact the race. While Biden may win the election if it were held today, it seems clear that he will not have the same political strength in the months ahead after being pummeled by his fellow Democrats and after being on the receiving end of the President’s “sleepy” insults. His new insult for Biden is that he is a “dummy.” These charges may stick, or they may backfire on the President, either way, the voters will determine the outcome.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]