Can Biden beat Trump?

We are less than seven months from a presidential election in the United States. Joe Biden will face Donald Trump on the first Tuesday of November. Trump is a tough nut to crack, but Biden may do so, with help from a few others, the circumstances, and us.

Let us begin with the coronavirus situation. Historically speaking, Americans typically rally around a president when the country’s facing an emergency situation. Trump, other than a slight bump upwards in the first weeks of coronavirus, isn’t benefiting from what political scientists refer to as a “rally ‘round the flag” effect — a traditional surge in popularity as the nation unites behind its leader during such circumstances. In fact, Trump has yet to reach a 50 percent approval rating from the American public — the first president in history who has never surpassed the 50 percent threshold.  

Trump, as he keeps telling us during his “I am great” press conferences (and where everyone else is at fault), wants to open up the U.S. economy and risk thousands of American lives (to add to the thousands of deaths he’s already responsible for). Or have we already forgotten how he called COVID-19  a Democratic Party hoax? [See video below.] And then waited (no less than five weeks) to act before taking this deadly disease seriously. There are thousands of dead mothers and fathers and children and grandparents whose lives Trump must account for. (I don’t believe in hell, but damn, if there was such a place, this orange-haired bully would belong there.) Because for this man, dead Americans are just collateral damage on his way to reelection. And that, to him, means a thriving Wall Street economy. 

Yet in spite of his detractors and detractions, the question is: Can he be beaten?

National polls do not favor Trump. Fox News, for example, Trump’s very effective propaganda machine, has the Trump-Biden race at a dead heat, 42-42. More objective polling, like Monmouth, has Biden beating Trump 48-44, and CNN has the race at 53-42 with Biden leading. Quinnipiac, CNBC and others have Biden leading by no less than five percentage points nationally. 

Real Clear Politics, which gives us an average of polls, has Biden leading in swing states like Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The margins are tight in all three, but these are states where Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

So is Joe Biden the person to beat Trump? Polls say that he is. But I would remind him that polls had Hillary Clinton beating Trump by an even wider margin — which held up until the day of the election.

The fact is that as close as Election Day may seem, this is a strange year and therefore it’s still too early to make predictions. Who knows what the next few months might bring us. More cataclysmic catastrophe? A recession turned to world-wide economic depression? And finally, neither of these men is immortal (no matter what Trump may think), so one or both may end up contracting the virus. In other words, almost anything seems possible.

But if Biden hopes to defeat this cruel and dangerous man we call president, he has to fill himself with bravado, start creating enthusiasm for his campaign — which he has not done so far — and choose the right person as his running mate. And although I am one that has never given much thought to a candidate’s vice presidential choice, in the case of Biden, and in 2020, that woman (she has to be a woman) may be the difference between a win or a loss for the former vice president.

She must fill the void created by the departure of Bernie Sanders from the campaign. A void made up of mostly young voters that Biden does not seem capable of reaching. She must also have the capacity to create enthusiasm among black voters — who are the backbone of the Democratic Party electorate. Because surely Biden has proven the black vote is in his favor, but he needs to perform like Barack Obama, and not Hillary Clinton. Because although Hillary garnered 89 percent of the black vote, the percentage of African-American voters dropped from almost 64 percent in 2008, to a bit over 61 percent in 2016. Those three percentage points can be huge in 2020.

As for the Bernie voters, the good news is that Bernie Sanders seems to genuinely like Joe Biden. They may not always agree on policy, but they’ve known each other for years and are friends. And Bernie’s platform seems to have penetrated the Biden campaign that now breaks more and more towards healthcare and climate change a la Sanders, rather than Biden’s initial wanting to continue the Obama legacy — how he started his presidential campaign.

In fact, Obama himself, in his endorsement of Biden earlier this week, devoted a part of his remarks to praising Sanders calling him “an American original” and “a man who has devoted his life to giving voice to working people’s hopes, dreams and frustrations.”  

The former president also said that “even before the pandemic turned the world upside down, it was already clear we needed real structural change.” Those words, reported The Washington Post, bore echoes of [Elizabeth] Warren’s signature campaign theme, a call for “big structural change.”

So it seems that Biden will have a who’s who of political stars working to help get him elected. Most prominent among them being Barack Obama, who together with wife Michelle, has approval numbers Donald Trump can only wish for.

So in the end the last and most important question to answer is whether the American public, who has never really liked Trump, except for his loyal base of “deplorables,” wake up from its lethargy and take the country back from a man and a movement that given four more years may ruin this country forever? 

In other words, the choice is in our hands. Vote.