- Despite constant change, polls show that most Americans have locked in their opinions on President Donald Trump, impeachment, and many of the 2020 Democratic contenders.
- If those opinions are locked in, two things are likely to happen: Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee, and he will beat Trump.
- Polls show that Trump is unpopular in some swing states, and Biden is outperforming Trump in many of those states.
- Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesperson for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
We’re living in the era of nothing matters.
The president has peddled obvious mistruths, yet many people still take him at his word. The president bullies a minor on Twitter and is retweeted aplenty. The president invites foreign governments to play in our elections, and congressional Republicans are outraged — but not at him.
By any reasonable measure, Trump’s misdeeds have far surpassed former Presidents Richard Nixon’s and Bill Clinton’s. But his popularity, and unpopularity, are intact.
We are a country that has made up its mind about Trump — and likely about so much else. If the president continues to explore new depths in violating his oath, it’s already factored into views on his behavior. If the stock market sets new records, it’s already factored into the perceived strength of the economy on his watch.
Impeachment polls have barely moved, and those who have made up their minds are growing only more confident in their views: The percentage of Americans who feel “strongly” one way or another is increasing.
Impeachment is far from the only topic on which the American public opinion has stalemated. These days, it appears that nothing can come out that will break the deeply entrenched gridlock over contentious topics like Obamacare or abortion, among many others. We’re a nation set in our ways.
Foresight is 2020
If indeed nothing continues to matter, that will mean two things for 2020: Former Vice President Biden will be the nominee, and he will beat Trump.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren had her moment before she detailed her healthcare plan. Pete Buttigieg, capitalizing on strong support in Iowa, is having his moment now. But the one constant has been Biden. Despite his tendencies for hair smelling, historical inaccuracies, and word salad, he’s basically led the Democratic field since he announced. His poll numbers haven’t even taken a hit as Republicans try to pivot the Ukraine narrative to Biden and his son.
This dynamic is reminiscent of the Republican primary in 2008. A variety of candidates spent a minute atop the field in various polls, only to all lose in the end to then-Sen. John McCain, who had the long-term name ID. GOP voters knew him for decades and were comfortable with him.
Like McCain then, Biden is the brand his party knows and seems comfortable with despite his flaws.
From candidate to President-elect Biden
Biden is in the driver’s seat. He holds a strong national lead over the field, and the latest polls have him ahead of the pack in early primary states like Nevada and South Carolina, and he even has a slight lead in California.
The scenario in which Biden unravels is if a moderate like Buttigieg or Sen. Amy Klobuchar wins Iowa or New Hampshire, and his firewall in South Carolina crumbles as a result. But the race is shaping up like the GOP primary in 2016, when pundit after pundit said Trump would not win the nomination, despite his consistency atop the polls. The race is Biden’s to lose.
As we know by now, national numbers don’t mean anything. Our Electoral College system means that the race is really about a handful of states. In key swing states, there is a consensus of unhappiness with the existing state of affairs: In the past several months, polls showed that 65% of voting Pennsylvanians, 59% of Michiganders, and 56% of North Carolinians believe that the US is on the wrong track. Polls like these should serve as a bright flashing light of opportunity for the eventual Democratic nominee.
Democrats will support the candidate who can beat Trump, and Biden generally has held a steady lead when polled against Trump. In Wisconsin, for example, a recent poll had Biden as the only Democratic contender beating Trump, though within the margin of error. According to another poll, Biden is also the favorite against Trump in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona. So despite Biden’s imperfections, Democratic primary voters may accept and support him as the one who can take down Trump.
A compulsive liar or a gaffe machine can still be president. In some sense, what this means is that the country is focused less on the messengers and squarely on the issues that affect their lives: getting good work, financial well-being, and reliable affordable healthcare.
So if we really are a country that has made up its mind, then we already know what will happen.
Michael Gordon has a long history in Democratic politics and communications strategy. He worked in the Clinton White House and as a spokesperson for the Clinton Justice Department. He also has served on multiple national, state, and local campaigns.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).
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Read the original article on Opinion Contributor. Copyright 2019.
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