Twenty-six percent isn’t enough to make the DNC think about pulling the trapdoor.
But it’s certainly enough to make Biden very, very nervous about whether he’ll have the turnout he needs in battleground states to get over the finish line this fall.
It’s not that Berniebros are going to decide to cross the aisle and vote for the guy with two dozen sexual misconduct allegations against him instead of the guy with one. They’re just not going to show up. You can imagine the soundbites from progressive man-on-the-street interviews this fall: “Given a choice between two rapists, I vote present.”
Joe needs to convince them to take a more traditional partisan approach to the issue. “He may be a rapist but he’s our rapist.”
My main takeaway from this Morning Consult data is that there’s no moment in modern American politics more nakedly and cynically partisan than when a prominent pol is credibly accused of — but not conclusively proven to have committed — sexual assault. With the possible exception of whether to keep or eliminate the Senate filibuster, no question of “principle” is more transparently informed by party interests than this one.
You might look at that and say, “Well, 26 percent of Dems isn’t nothing!” Right, but we all understand that that number would jump 50 points if Biden were a Republican. You might also say, “How about those younger Democrats, though? At least they’re taking the subject seriously.” Maybe, but Biden’s support among young Democrats was famously weak throughout the primaries. Does this data show us young liberals taking a bold stand to #BelieveAllWomen? Or does it show us a bunch of Berniebros lunging at a last-gasp pretext to replace Biden with their favorite politician?
That’s just partisanship of a different sort. They want to nominate a socialist, not a Democrat, so suddenly Tara Reade is credible and Joe must go.
Jonathan Chait, a Democrat and a liberal but very much not a Bernie fan, thinks the Sanders contingent is nutty for wanting to replace him. The left would love it, no doubt. What about the other two-thirds of the party, including Biden’s African-American base?
All the writers now urging [replacing Biden] were fervent Biden opponents during the primary. None of them seem to have considered that the overwhelming majority of Democrats who voted for him might be upset over denying the nominee they picked over something he may or may not have done in 1993. Indeed, none of them seem even remotely troubled at the prospect of the party elite functionally disenfranchising its own electorate…
[T]he progressives who want to force Biden off the ticket have given almost no thought to what would happen next, and what few ideas they have floated are in contradiction with each other. The replacement should either be a former candidate, or somebody who didn’t run, and they should either be picked by the remaining voters or by the party. Oh, and remember, there’s also an ongoing pandemic, which means there can’t be more campaigning and might not be an in-person convention. Good luck!
There are some meaningful differences in the Morning Consult numbers. Democratic men were 12 points more likely to say they viewed Biden’s denial as credible than Democratic women were, although majorities of both groups said so. Democrats aged 45 or older were also more likely to say so than Dems under 45 — 67 percent to 53 percent. Personal perspective, not just raw power politics, is shaping different people’s views to some degree.
But power politics is shaping them a lot.
How concerned people are about a candidate's sexual harassment and misconduct is driven by whether the candidate is in their party. pic.twitter.com/V6TXDE15Sx
— Matt Bruenig (@MattBruenig) May 5, 2020
Dems are a little more likely than Republicans to say the sexual assault allegation against their guy is a major issue, and they’re quite a bit more likely than Republicans to say the sexual assault allegation against the other guy is a major issue. Maybe that proves #MeToo is more of a priority for liberals than conservatives. Or maybe it’s a function of there being many more allegations against Trump than Biden, which means more pressure on Republicans to be skeptical of all #MeToo claims for the sake of protecting their candidate.
Those aren’t the only questions where partisanship looms large, though. When asked how they view Tara Reade’s accusation, 26 percent of Dems say it’s at least “somewhat” credible — versus 58 percent of Republicans who say so. (In 2018, Morning Consult notes, fully 65 percent of Dems believed that Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh was somewhat credible at first blush.) When asked how they view Joe Biden’s denial, the partisan trends shift. Sixty-one percent of Dems say Biden was at least somewhat credible versus 24 percent of Republicans. Note that this isn’t strictly an either/or question of whether to believe Reade or Biden. One can find both the accusation and the denial credible amid uncertainty about whom to believe. But that’s not how partisanship works. For Dems, Biden is credible and Reade isn’t. For Republicans, the opposite. Power politics, as hardnosed as it gets.
Here’s the “View” crew earlier today, sounding unsurprisingly pro-Joe in the Reade matter.