Reclamation Project(s).

Reclamation Project(s).

Initially, it seemed like Donald Trump wanted to face Joe Biden in 2020.

After all, Biden is predisposed to getting sucked into farcical exchanges with Trump, which plays right into the president’s hands. Trump has a solid claim to the top spot on anyone’s list of “best” social media trolls and he delighted in going back and forth with the former vice president in March of 2018, when Joe retroactively challenged Trump’s high school self to a fist fight “behind the gym”.

“Crazy Joe Biden…doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way”, a delirious Trump tweeted. “Don’t threaten people Joe!”

As we wrote back in March while (literally) begging Biden not to enter the race, American politics is already the laughing stock of the world, and just about the last thing the country needs is two septuagenarians arguing with each other about who would win a hypothetical fist fight five decades ago.

Read more: Don’t Do It Joe – Any Of It.

We also warned that Biden was being presumptuous in reportedly considering rising star Stacey Abrams as a running mate. For one thing, choosing a vice president before you’ve even declared is arrogant in the extreme (it suggests you think there’s no point in even having a primary). On top of that, the alleged plan was “so obviously clout chasing that it’s embarrassing”, to quote The Root.

At the time, Beto had a lot of momentum. He had just secured a record one-day funding haul and supporters generally saw no reason why he couldn’t perform on the national stage like he did in his nearly successful bid to take Ted Cruz’s Senate seat (an almost impossible feat).

“Until he definitively proves he isn’t the guy (by either embarrassing himself or someone else embarrassing him by releasing more hacker chronicles, for instance) the nominee needs to be Beto”, we wrote in March.

Fast forward to July and a couple of things are clear.

First, the idea that Biden would have problems and should probably pass the torch has been borne out. Ironically – considering his famous friendship with Obama and rumored affinity for Abrams as a possible VP – it was race relations that kneecapped Joe in the first debate. Of course, if you knew anything about Biden, that wasn’t entirely unpredictable, as some critics of the Abrams gambit pointed out.

Read more: The Nominee

Second, Beto has “definitively proven he isn’t the guy”- to quote ourselves. There’s still time to turn things around, but it’s not looking good. For whatever reason, the same man who was entirely comfortable playing air drums to Baba O’Riley and sharing the video with millions of people, seems intimidated by the prospect of seizing his moment, a rather disappointing turn of events that perhaps speaks to Beto’s life history of “falling up”.

In any case, Trump now seems intent to deep-six Biden’s chances. The president is piling on, perhaps blissfully unaware of the perils inherent in squaring off against a seasoned prosecutor in Kamala Harris or else content to believe she can’t win the primary.

“Joe Biden is a reclamation project. Some things are just not salvageable”, Trump tweeted last week. “Won’t win!”

Maybe he’s right. Biden has spent the last several days on an apology tour for the segregationist kerfuffle, but the damage is done. Asked over the weekend about the Harris-Biden exchange in, Michelle Obama said simply “No comment”.

“Barack and I are going to support whoever wins the primary, so … our focus is letting the primary process play out, because it’s very early”, she said of the coveted endorsement. “I mean, that’s one of the things that we learned in the campaign. It is early; it’s like trying to figure out who’s winning the World Series on the first seven games. I mean that’s where we are right now, it is so early”.

It’s true, it is “so early”. But the trends are “so clear”. Have a look:

(Goldman, RCP)

Call it gamesmanship. Call it a “low blow”. Call it whatever you will. But, Harris dealt Biden a grievous blow on June 27, and elevated herself to a tie for second in the process.

Bernie’s support has waned every step of the way, as has Beto’s. Warren, meanwhile, continues to steadily climb, indicative of a predictable (albeit abrasive) stance on the issues and a commanding grasp of policy nuance, befitting of the Senator’s academic and legal background. Here’s a bit of possibly useful color from Goldman:

While early candidate popularity is not always indicative of electoral success in primary elections, we expect that financial markets will be attuned to the relative performance of the most progressive Democratic candidates compared with candidates viewed to be more politically centrist. Although relative polling performance has shifted recently, so far the overall balance of support for moderate vs. progressive candidates has remained fairly steady, we believe. Also, we note that early polling will be relevant in narrowing the field of candidates over the next few months. To qualify for the September Democratic debate, for example, candidates will need to have received at least 2% support in four polls conducted in July or August, as well as meet more selective fundraising goals. At the moment, this looks likely to narrow the Democratic field by at least half compared with the 20 candidates who participated in the first round of debates in June.

Although it’s impossible to know what Team Trump is thinking (primarily because even if you can get a read on the strategic bent of his campaign and his advisors, nobody really knows what’s going on his “very large brain”), one can’t help but wonder if the president is underestimating the odds of facing Harris in 2020.

Harris’s story in part revolves around the idea that she’s played it generally safe over her career in an effort to avoid rocking any boats that might prevent her from securing higher and higher offices (critics sometimes seize on that to suggest she hasn’t pushed the envelope on key issues). Implicit is the idea that she’s been saving it all up for her big chance – that she needs to climb up one more rung before laying it all on the line. Well, there is no gamble bigger than running for president.

We’ll leave you with a handy political event calendar from the same Goldman note cited above.


31 thoughts on “Reclamation Project(s).

  1. I’d argue Biden can win a general election against Trump, but would struggle to win a primary with a Democratic electorate that has moved decidedly to the left the past 3 years. The primary polls don’t currently reflect that.

    To touch upon H’s “ingrained racism and misogyny” quote, I think that has a lot to do with Biden’s poll strength versus Trump. At the end of the day there are a lot of Americans, including a fair amount of Democrats, who just aren’t comfortable voting for a woman. He’s 10 points ahead in the WaPo poll this morning and everyone else of note is basically even with him.

    1. Agree with the first paragraph, disagree with the second. In 2008 many thought that a lot of Americans, including a fair amount of Democrats, just aren’t comfortable voting for a black guy.

  2. Ms Harris slept her way up in politics when she was Willie Browns girlfriend
    Her debating style is the attack mode; she does seem to offer any positive policy solutions.
    Finally she is from California , the land of unlimited immigration, diseases from the Dark Ages,endless traffic jams, defamation maps, almost 50cents / gallon gas tax, its legislature and executive controlled by one party , the Democrats, and the greatest gap between the rich and everyone else of anywhere in the US. Basically I am stating that California politics is so so far left that no candidate from California will ever become VP or Pres again

    1. Similar but more justified points could have been made about candidate Trump – and were – yet he’s President. His opponent had high negative ratings, but in 2019 so does the incumbent. I think the 2020 election will be primarily about two things: Trump and generational/demographic shifts in views.

  3. What’s hurting Joe Biden’s standing as a candidate are two things:
    1. His age (nicely highlighted by the passing-the-torch comment)
    2. His weak response to Senator Harris’s clever (and well rehearsed) innuendo that he might have issues regarding racism for which he needs to apologize.

    His on-stage response needed to be “I can carry any damn torch I want” and “Bullshit, pure Bullshit” to the race inference. Instead, he has been acting like an eighty year old man, and following up with explanations that sound like the apology for which Senator Harris had asked.

    1. I’d push back on your desired “torch” response out of him.

      “I can carry any damn torch I want” pretty much feeds into the age criticism of Biden. It reeks of what some younger generations perceive as the the “because I said so” sense of entitlement that old folks can sometimes have. That is, they can do what they want because they’re older, and are protected from substantive attacks because of that seniority.

      The proper way he could have dealt with this would have been to say something along the lines of: now isn’t the time to pass the torch because the proverbial winds are whipping so strongly and they threaten to blow that torch out, unless someone like him is there to carry it and protect it, because only someone with his experience knows how to do that. His whole ‘return to normalcy’ campaign, if it’s going to work out, needs to be cruxed in an idea of fragility of our democratic system, and that this fragility means the system needs stewardship, not change.

  4. About 1 in 6 American households watched the Democratic candidates debates. There we saw all of the candidates spending the majority of their time pledging allegiance to providing for the well-being of all undocumented immigrants. I suppose that we are to infer that regular American citizens will also be afforded these same benefits and considerations.

    1. “I suppose that we are to infer that regular American citizens will also be afforded these same benefits and considerations.”

      correct. that’s kinda what universal healthcare and free college means

  5. Senator K. Harris is ‘the pick of the litter’ IMO. She won’t take any B.S. from ‘The Donald.’ Don’t panic about the ‘left leaning’ as most left wing governments elected in Canada and the U.K. became more responsible and centrist when weighed down by the mantle and responsibility of governing. Not the Donald; who is running the U.S. like a ‘Mob Boss’ primarily for his benefit and that of Trump Inc.

  6. Interesting thing about Harris is that she comes off as a tough woman, compared to Warren or Hillary who always seem like scolding old women. Harris seems more to fit the currently popular heroine image. She could be a Sarah Conner from Terminator. I can visualize her squaring off against Trump and reloading her canon-like oversized anti-aircraft gun with a single hand and laying waste. Or perhaps I’m just day dreaming.

    1. that’s the idea. to create that mythology around her, whether true or not. that she can be the bad ass without being the scolding old woman. it may be entirely absurd, but look how absurd Trump’s narrative was. there’s also an argument that says the only way to surely beat Trump is for the Democrats to run their own demagogue. they’ve got one, but she’s too young to throw her hat in (if you catch my drift) 🙂

  7. it is awfully early. biden’s liability is his age and long track record which provide some easy targets- which is why it is unusual for senators to win a presidential election. trump is such an outlier though that i would throw out most of the normal rules. as long as the democrats don’t completely demolish each other in the primaries, they likely have about a 50% chance of beating of trump. as in most elections the key will be turn out- will trump turn out the deplorables and win narrow re-election or will the democrats be able to turn out their voters. last time they failed, but given the consequences perhaps this time they will succeed. the economy is likely going to either put the nail in trump’s chances or keep him in the game….

  8. Biden represents a return to normalcy, which appears to be important to older Dem voters and blacks, who appear to prefer Biden to Harris……..maybe hoping for a continuation of the Obama presidency.

    Harris looks to me like the alternative moderate Dem, who is backing off the more radical policy proposals of both Bernie and Warren.

    I consider myself very liberal and agree with many of the more radical proposals…….but cash giveaways and getting rid of private health insurance are steps too far…..IMO. I think it will be difficult for any Dem candidate to walk back the radical policy proposals it may take to win the Dem nomination.

    Mostly I am afraid of the Dem primary voters, who may push the candidate so far left that The Donald will be a shoo-in.

    1. Trump may be locking kids in cages and be a cruel, incompetent, corrupt dictator wannabe, but he does fight to preserve private health insurance. It could be a stark choice indeed for moderates and independents in 2020.

      If only we would know what happens when Democrats run a candidate that promises nothing but normalcy, appeals to elderly, moderate Democrats and blacks, and runs on an anti-Trump campaign…

      1. yeah, what a stark choice: dictator versus free health insurance. it’s like when people ask me: “do you want to be tortured by an evil clown or do you want to eat free ice cream?” and i’m like “jeez, i don’t know, both are really bad”.

          1. I’m not sure that’s true. Ask yourself this: If corporates can borrow at negative rates in Europe (i.e., yields on corporate bonds across the pond are negative), what makes you think investors wouldn’t be more than happy to fund healthcare for all Americans via Treasury issuance? that is, ask yourself this: If a European corporation is getting paid to borrow, are you saying investors won’t be more than happy to get paid to lend money to the US government. Further, bear in mind that nobody has yet been able to answer, definitively, why MMT won’t work. The answer is always that it shouldn’t work. But that’s not the same as saying why it won’t. Remember how, in 2010, that long list of big names in finance wrote an open letter to Ben Bernanke and said said QE would lead to hyperinflation (that was the gist of it)? Bernanke essentially said those people didn’t know what they were talking about. Now fast forward nine years and it’s deflation we’re worried about.

      2. You have to give the American medical establishment credit for keeping so much of the populace brainwashed against universal healthcare. They were telling Trump style lies long before there was a president Trump and it has been effective.

        1. to be clear: i’m not saying universal healthcare necessarily would work in America, what i’m saying is exactly what this person is saying: Americans are brainwashed into believing there’s something written in stone that says it can’t. that’s a shame.

          i know, personally, that what i spend on private insurance is astronomical. i’m fortunate in that i can afford it. but i can only imagine what it must be like for people who are less fortunate

  9. I live in a certifiable blue state so I don’t bother voting. However, if I lived in a swing state, I’d vote for Biden or Pete B, but against Harris, Warren or Bernie. The socialist-leaning types will be a huge turn-off for centrist democratic voters, assuming I am not the last one standing. I hope not.

  10. One thought. Does proposing a single payer option and Gov’t supported higher education……make you a socialist….any more than infrastructure or public safety spending?

    I think folks are buying into the conservative narrative…. far too easily.

    1. If a condition for building the infrastructure is killing all the private engaged in the same then yes it does.

      Of course, “socialist” is a scary dirty word that is being overused, misused and abused. But that’s for a reason. The “real” socialists effed up everything they touched, you are not likely to need my history lessons, so buying into the conservative narrative is a healthy instinct.

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