This is not exactly the stuff of which inspiring campaigns are made. It’s condescending at best—existential policy imperatives like climate change and health care are hardly trivial, regardless of who occupies the White House—but it also contains an air of menace. Biden and his supporters are trying to create a binary choice: Vote for Joe and beat Trump, or don’t vote for Joe and lose. But most early polling has suggested that any candidate with near-universal name recognition—something that would automatically follow a major party presidential nomination—would lead Trump in a head-to-head competition.
If voters are transitioning away from electability, that would be good news for Sanders and Warren, in particular. Both candidates have used policy as the backbone of their campaigns, and both have large and deeply loyal bases. Recent polling puts Warren and Sanders in the top tier of Democratic candidates; though they still trail Biden in most opinion polls, each have significant advantages should his campaign falter. Sanders, in particular, has gained momentum in recent weeks, releasing a flurry of policy proposals, including a $16 trillion plan to fight climate change and remake the country’s energy infrastructure.
Most polling shows Sanders and Warren each defeating Trump in a general election matchup. Biden and his surrogates have gone to great lengths to make the argument that he is the only candidate who is guaranteed to beat the president in such a contest, but like most election-year promises, there are caveats. The fact is, nothing succeeds like success. Despite what Jill Biden said, whomever Democratic voters like the best, whomever gets the most voters to the polls on election day, that will be the candidate with a very good chance of defeating Trump. Deep down, most voters know this; now, it seems, the people who purport to know what most voters know may finally be waking up to this, too. That’s probably better for just about everyone’s future, except maybe Joe Biden’s.