But, this isn’t 2016. A Trump presidency isn’t a theory; it’s the reality. In 2016, the only reality people had was the last eight years of Obama and the very well-known history of the Clintons.
More important, Biden’s goal isn’t to be a more ‘exciting’ alternative to Trump but to be the opposite of Trump. Biden isn’t going to be a ratings superhero. He’s not going to pack stadiums to the rafters with supporters. His message is basically this: I’m pretty boring but steady and competent. That may not work every year, but it is well-suited for a time of chaos and confusion.
It’s also important to put the ‘enthusiasm gap’ into perspective. Trump was successful in 2016 not just because he had an energized group of voters supporting him (and turned out people who had been on the sidelines in previous presidential elections), but because he won a disproportionate number of voters who disliked both him and Clinton. In looking through the 2016 exit polls, CNN found that “voters who held their nose in the voting booth appear to have preferred someone new over someone who had been in politics for decades. Among this disaffected group, 44% favored change, while only 13% prioritized experience.” Today, government experience is unlikely to be seen as negatively as it was four years ago.