Democratic Panic: A Trump Conviction is the Only Way Biden Can Win

Brendan McDermid/Pool Photo via AP

It's not like this was a secret or something you couldn't have figured out for yourself, still it's sort of revealing when Democrats say the quiet part out loud. I'm talking specifically about a new Thomas Edsall column in the NY Times titled "'This Could Well Be Game Over.'" The game in this case is the 2024 election and the over refers to Joe Biden's chances of winning it if Donald Trump isn't convicted of a serious crime prior to November.

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“Early on, I called the federal election subversion case potentially the most important case in this nation’s history,” Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at U.C.L.A., wrote on his Election Law Blog. “And now it may not happen because of timing, timing that is completely in the Supreme Court’s control. This could well be game over.”

Whether or not the trials are held before the election is crucial to the outcome, for at least two reasons.

First, a surprisingly large segment of the electorate has either no idea or slight knowledge of the charges against Trump. Increased knowledge of these charges can only work to Biden’s advantage.

Second, a key element of the Biden campaign’s strategy is to mobilize what political strategists are calling the “anti-MAGA majority.” Many anti-MAGA voters cannot be relied upon to turn out unless the threat of a Trump-MAGA victory is put squarely before them — something the trials would help accomplish.

We'll return to those two reasons mentioned above in a moment but first Edsall runs through a bunch of what looks like really bad news for Biden.

Adam Carlson — a former Democratic pollster who still aggregates data on voting trends among key subgroups from several surveys — has gathered material supportive of [Nate] Silver’s argument that Democrats need to restore loyalty among past Democratic voters now considering voting for Trump...

...27 percent of Hispanics said they were following the election, while their vote intentions had moved 16 points toward Trump since 2020. Carlson described similar trends for low-income voters, young voters, Black voters and moderates.

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The point of this is that Joe Biden doesn't seem to have much going for him at the moment. In fact, Edsall is making the case that the only real chance he has to win is to scare the bejeezus out of the "anti-MAGA majority."

And this brings us back to the need for a trial and a conviction prior to the election. Of the two reasons Edsall pointed to why this matters, he later admits the first one (raising awareness of the charges) probably doesn't matter much at all. He is pulling this paragraph from an opinion piece the Times published last December:

Voters also understand that crime must be proved. They recognize that in our legal system there is a difference between allegations and proof and between an individual who is merely accused and one who is found guilty by a jury of his peers. Because so many Americans are familiar with and have served in the jury system, it still holds sway as a system with integrity.

So, getting back to Edsall's two reasons the trials are important, his first reason was that they increase voter's knowledge about the charges. But here he is in the same column citing the idea that allegations won't matter to most people. Only convictions matter. And that means there's really only one reason the timing of the trials matter (at least according to Edsall): Because it's a necessary part of Biden's campaign strategy. Again, the gist of this piece is that it's probably the only thing that can hand Biden a win at this point.

This may not be news to you but it's still revealing to see it presented so bluntly in the NY Times. The piece concludes by noting that Biden will have lots of campaign cash to pound a message into the electorate this year. And yet...what would that message be if it's not about Trump's trial?

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No matter the size of Biden’s cash advantage, campaign spending will be most effective if the campaign has concrete material to work with — something a timely Trump trial would provide.

What I see in this column is incipient panic. Democrats were counting on a pre-election conviction to rescue an aging Joe Biden from having to actually compete in this election. Now that their carefully crafted timeline doesn't seem to be working out, they are realizing they've really got nothing else going for them. What they have is Joe Biden, an 81-year-old guy who needs to barnstorm the country to win this election but who is also one careless trip and fall away from losing. It's not a great position to be in and I think Democrats are right to be worried.

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John Stossel 5:30 PM | July 13, 2024
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