Word is leaking out that Joe Biden will finally be pushed out of the confines of his basement on Monday to make an appeal directly to the voters. Which voters and at what location? Nobody on Biden’s team is confirming where they’ve decided to deploy him for a risky, real-time address, but we suspect that it will be in the vicinity of one of the places being continually plagued by riots and violence over the summer. For now, the destination is only being described as “an undisclosed location.” Axios is reporting that Biden’s staff is alarmed at the national response to all of the mob activity, fearing that President Trump’s law and order candidacy is taking hold and they need Sleepy Joe to wake up long enough to counter that message.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is set to travel to an undisclosed location on Monday to “condemn violence, and to note that chaos has unfolded” on President Trump’s watch, the New York Times reports.
Our thought bubble, via Axios’ Hans Nichols: Biden’s apparent plans to travel and directly address the violence is an indication that the campaign is worried about losing ground on the law and order issue.
Of note: The report comes as Biden addressed the National Guard Association of America in a virtual meeting on Saturday.
Scheduling a conference call with a National Guard group is probably a big tell when you consider that they are the ones being deployed to the front lines of the urban unrest now. And voters around the country definitely appear to be taking a keen interest in all of this news, with the general sentiment turning against those who support the people burning buildings and looting stores.
Another signal of that effect showed up in the most recent Yahoo News survey, a poll that has generally been very friendly to Biden and Democrats in general. Biden’s lead in a sample taken on August 27 and 28 has shrunk to six points. And that’s nationally, not just in swing states. It’s also among registered voters, not likely voters. (The latter category tends to skew more conservative.)
Yahoo wasn’t the only example of this trend, though. Both Morning Consult and YouGov also coughed up a six-point spread this week, after showing Trump down by nine or more points only a few weeks earlier. This week has also seen Trump up in Michigan by two for the first time in ages. Maybe you can write off a small bit of this to a post-convention bounce, but not nearly all of it. The more likely explanation is that people are catching on to the chaos and violence erupting in our cities despite the media’s best efforts to ignore or reframe it.
This was already becoming too much to ignore even in Uncle Joe’s inner circle. Biden’s own party was already freaking out because he’s not even doing many video appearances from his basement, to say nothing of going out on a press blitz.
Privately, Democrats worry the Biden team is playing it too safe and missing opportunities to draw a contrast with Trump.
“If you’re not going to be out on the trail, you should be doing interviews every single day,” said one Democratic strategist.
“For whatever reason, they have determined that they can’t put him out there,” the strategist added. “That’s the worst strategy. They need to get on the offensive, get out and talk to press. Their strategy is running out the clock but they better f—— pray for a kickass debate.”
When one of your own strategists is talking about a plan that includes the phrase “pray for,” it’s very possible that the ship is taking on water. But to put this in a larger context, it’s been the view of many Democratic strategists for some time now that in order to move the ball in the correct direction, Biden didn’t just need to be ahead in the national polls. He needed to be heading for a blowout victory if he wanted to get across the finish line in the electoral college and avoid a huge backlash.
A roughly 5% lead nationally among registered voters isn’t going translate to even as much support as Hillary Clinton wound up getting in 2016. Numbers like these might keep Joe Biden as the favorite for popular vote victory carried on the backs of California and New York, but the bar is considerably higher in the swing states and most of flyover country. And I’m not hearing anyone suggest that Biden can turn the tide back in his direction by continuing to cower in his basement. Meanwhile, the President is flying into Ground Zero in Kenosha and Joe Biden is missing in action.