The Democrats have a Biden problem

There’s a big, exciting field of Democratic presidential candidates out there just champing at the bit for a chance to take on Donald Trump next year. Their ranks continue to swell, with Senator Michael Bennet tossing his hat in the ring and the Mayor of New York City expected to announce as soon as Wednesday (for some reason). There are plenty of fresh faces that much of the nation doesn’t recognize and they’re pushing a variety of radical new ideas.

But they’ve all got one problem and his name is Joe Biden. As the Hill points out this week, Biden had a much stronger than anticipated launch and his announcement bump turned into a surge. Absent some major shift in the political wind, he could wind up lapping the field by the time the Iowa straw poll rolls around. (Emphasis added)

Biden has had a stronger than expected launch to his campaign, opening up a wide lead in several opinion polls.

The scale of the “Biden Bump” is all the more surprising given that the former vice president had to navigate troubled waters in early April, before making his bid official, when several women said he had been inappropriately tactile with them in the past.

To be sure, the 2020 contest is at a very early stage. The Iowa caucuses are nine months away, and there are many twists and turn to come.

But for now, Biden’s argument that he is the best candidate to defeat President Trump is carrying the day.

Wait a minute. [record scratch] “Inappropriately tactile?” Is that what we’re calling it now? Somebody must have been shopping that phrase around for a while.

In any event, the bottom line is that the narrative being pushed in the political media has once again seemed to fail to reflect the views of much of the country, specifically rank and file Democratic voters. It has long been suggested that Democrats were in the midst of a sea change. This was supposed to be the new version of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. The voters were demanding someone young and exciting. Almost definitely a woman and/or a person of color. Bonus points for being gay or transgender. They needed to support the Green New Deal, Medicare for all and carry the AOC seal of approval.

Instead, they got Joe Biden, at least for the moment. The last four polls have been nothing but bad news for progressives hoping to turn the page on establishment Democratic politics. Morning Consult had him at 36, fourteen points up on Sanders. CNN has him at 39, with Bernie getting only 15. Quinnipiac puts Joe at 38, but Sanders only manages 11. And in the latest and most startling result of all, Harvard-Harris gives Biden 44 and pegs Bernie at 14, a full thirty points behind.

Think about that for a minute. Forty-four points. If that’s anywhere near a realistic reflection of what’s going on out in the streets, Biden is only six or seven points away from a majority before the race has even started.

But that’s where the problem comes in. Being near fifty should definitely scare the daylights out of Biden’s opponents, but what about the other fifty percent? All of that Age of Aquarius stuff I mentioned above may be splintered at the moment and not represent as much of a majority of Democrats today as the media would have you believe, but it’s still real. There are Democrats out there who are supporting socialism and identity politics. The supporters of Bernie, Beto, Mayor Pete, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris add up to roughly 35% of the vote. If the primary winds up being handed off to the old guard in the form of Biden, will all of them come along for the ride with the same enthusiasm? Will Uncle Joe be able to bring black and more liberal Hispanic voters out to the polls the way Obama did? (Hillary Clinton certainly couldn’t manage it.)

What these poll numbers are really painting a picture of here is a civil war inside the Democratic Party. And the losers may not be all that graceful, no matter which side wins. Before Biden even announced, there were liberals out there trying to undermine his chances. (Here’s one good example, but there’s an endless supply out there.) Even if Biden survives the primary and goes on to be the nominee, he doesn’t win a general election with only half of his party. And at least for now, they’re not indicating that compromise is on the table.