Why Trump can't make his anti-protest message stick

But this turn against Trump has been made possible by one additional factor — and that is the character of his opponent.

From his long track record in public life to recent official statements of his campaign, Joe Biden comes off as a moderate, decent man of the center left seeking to formulate a positive response to cries of racial injustice — a message that promises to de-escalate tensions on the streets of our cities and advance civic reconciliation by aiming to build and expand on American ideals and institutions rather than reject or tear them down. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if significant numbers of voters inclined toward backlash against the protests are concluding that voting for Biden is the most reasonable way to bring them to a peaceful conclusion.

That voters are responding affirmatively to Biden’s message of civic healing demonstrates the limits of an approach to politics rooted in the demonization of negative partisanship. Trump can’t hope to prevail by saying, “You might dislike me, but my opponent is far worse,” when Biden is both widely liked and does nothing to indicate that he supports toppling statues of Ulysses S. Grant and Walt Whitman.

That makes Biden a terrible foil for Trump.