Let’s be clear, Joe Biden is still leading the polls among all the Democrat candidates for the 2020 Presidential election, but he’s fading. When he announced he was running for President back in late April. He had a thirty point lead over the next leading candidate, Bernie Sanders. Observers correctly noted that moment would be as good as it got for Biden and it was downhill from there. Instead of hitting the trail and hustling for votes. Biden campaigned by doing his version of the rope-a-dope. Ignoring his Democrat challengers and focusing on Donald Trump as if he were already in the general election.
Biden’s handlers were in effect hiding their candidate from the public, given Joe’s tendency to make gaffes. When they let him out of his pen, he promoted his ability to work well with others, using the example that he worked well with segregationalists in the Democrat Party to get things done. He also affirmed his support for the Hyde amendment banning the use of public funds for abortion, a position he had to back away from after he was attacked by the other candidates. He’s also had to apologize for his support of the 1994 Crime Bill which many point to as a leading cause of mass incarceration of black Americans.
The first Democrat debate, broken up into two days to accommodate twenty participants, exposed Joe Biden when he had to respond to direct confrontation in the form of California Senator Kamala Harris. She pointed out his opposition to school busing and his reply was the equivalent of a “States Rights” policy last used to support slavery. A worrisome sight for Biden supporters was the throng of black women that sought Harris out on stage after the debate.
Possibly the most significant portion of Biden’s base is the black vote he inherited from having served as Barack Obama’s Vice-President. Obama having been the nation’s first black President. Obama is still beloved by the majority of black voters and Biden brings up that connection every chance he gets including in his announcement video. In addition to being loyal, black voters are pragmatic, taking into consideration who has the best chance to win. Even with two black Senators in the race for President; Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Black voters have generally been hesitant to support either despite a common race because of uncertainty they could win. The same sentiment pattern was true when Barack Obama ran against Hillary Clinton in 2007. Clinton had the majority of the black support until suddenly she didn’t. Barack Obama convinced black voters he could win. It remains to be seen if Harris or Booker can capture that lightning, but it’s happened before.
Since Biden’s dreadful debate appearance, he is suddenly seen as vulnerable and what was once thirty point lead had dropped to just a few points in recent polls. He should be worried about trends showing Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris gaining ground while Biden is moving the opposite direction. Recent dropouts from the campaign include Congressman Eric Swalwell and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. As hopes and money dry up in the next few months, several others can be expected to drop out, the greatest likelihood is those votes won’t accrue to Biden but to one of the other remaining candidates. Until such time as he wins the nomination, those likely to vote for Biden were already supporting him.
In one respect, Democrat voters know quite a bit about Joe Biden. He’s generally well-liked and it’s hard to overestimate the value of his association with Obama. Whoever can carry a large bloc of black voters within the Democrat Party has the easiest path to the nomination. Elizabeth Warren is struggling to catch fire with black voters and Mayor Pete Buttigieg has captured just 3% of black voters polled and is possibly heading backward due to local issues including the firing of a popular black police chief and a separate killing by police of a black man. The officer’s body camera was not turned on.
In another respect, the things Democrat voters learn about Biden they don’t already know, are more likely to hurt Biden than help him. Negative ads will include his support of the crime bill, his handling of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings specifically his treatment of Anita Hill. They’ll highlight his negative comments about Barack Obama when running against him in an earlier bid for the Presidency. We’re not going to learn anything new and exciting about Joe Biden to make us want to vote for him.
Joe Biden ran for President in 1988, that bid was derailed by plagiarism charges and 2008 when he wasn’t a factor. He doesn’t have a history of being a great campaigner. This time he was spotted a thirty point lead. Two things are happening simultaneously; some of his competitors are gaining on him and he’s falling back towards them. Biden may still hang on to win, but he’s definitely falling, and he can’t get up.