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July 31, 2019


"He's holding 30 percent of the primary electorate when nobody else when nobody else has half of that..." is nothing more than Douthat regurgitating the common wisdom of typical pundit "horserace" election coverage.

After the last two debates, the WSJ/NBC poll headlined 26% Biden, 19% Warren, etc.

Buried in the poll was the question (unremarked upon in any article I read) "Hve you made up your mind who you're voting for in the Dem primary?

Answer: Yes - 18%
No - 82%

Eighty percent of voters aren't even going to start thinking about this until after the holiday season. The idea that Biden (or anyone else) "holds" 30 percent is laughable.

If you don't believe me, here is a poll of GOP voter preference from four years ago. You can see, the leader is Inevitable Jeb, followed closely by that vote-getting dynamo, Scott Walker. (Check out who's #11, with 1%.)

The piece is credited to none other than Chuck Todd, a plugged-in insider like Ross Douthat who couldn't find his way out of a parking lot without directions.

I disagree with Douthat. To my eye, Inevitable Joe bears a very strong resemblance to Inevitable Jeb, and that other sure-fire winner, President Inevitable Hillary Clinton. But that's just my opinion.

Oops! Here's the poll.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion Ed. And you are pretty good at arguing yours. But I am not sure your comparison is apt. Unless you expect some new figure to enter the Democratic fray and start hammering the current slate out of existence as Trump did with the Republican field.

Here's what I see. Biden has a pretty good lock on a significant portion of the most reliable voters in the Democratic party. for convenience sake let's call them centrists or moderates. And He has that part of the field pretty much to himself. what are other players in that class going to do to knock him out and steal his support? Not much that I can see.

How about attacks from the left then? Well I can't see much happening from that quarter either. The only hope Warren and Sanders have to mount a significant challenge in primary votes is to swipe them from each other. Direct attacks on Biden risks alienating Biden supporters and driving them into someone else's camp.

It certainly is possible between now and the election that, by dint of hard work, Biden can be sufficiently damaged to make his candidacy evaporate. But I seriously doubt that is an election winning strategy. It presupposes that Democrats will behave like Republicans and fall in behind whoever becomes the candidate. Furthermore I think it fair to say that once the Republicans and their PACs start tearing into whoever the Democratic candidate is a weakened one, damaged by a nasty primary fight pitting the progressive wing against the center will not end well.

I'll vote for any Democrat against Trump, just as I've voted for every Democrat against every Republican at all levels since the advent of George W. Bush. I know you and a majority of your readers hate progressives and favor centrism. That's fine. So let me ask you or any or your readers a simple question: How will your preferred candidate, Joseph Biden, defeat Trump?

What, exactly, will he offer that will lead to a different outcome than 2016? We already had a centrist, machine Democrat who's primary message was "vote for me because I'm not evil like Trump." It didn't work. Democrats were humiliated at all levels of government, all across the country. Biden just seems like an exact replay of the same losing strategy.

I'm hearing the exact same analysis and the exact same opinions I heard in 2016. Dismiss progressives, cleave to the center, make yourself the anti-Trump, and, hopefully, a sliver of Never Trump Republicans will leave the reservation and vote for you. I'm sorry, that strategy lost once and I truly believe it is going to lose again, and I really don't give two poops what Nate Silver, David Brooks, Ross Douhat or the editorial page of the Washington Post have to say about it at this point.

Weren't they the same ones who assured me - with facts, polls, statistics, and expert opinions - that Donald Trump had no chance, NO CHANCE, of ever winning the presidency? Sorry, their credibility is nil.

Why will the same strategy that failed in 2016 work this time?

To be fair, Nate Silver was one of the few who saw that Trump had more than a slim chance of winning. "For most of the presidential campaign, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast gave Trump much better odds than other polling-based models. Our final forecast, issued early Tuesday evening, had Trump with a 29 percent chance of winning the Electoral College.1 By comparison, other models tracked by The New York Times put Trump’s odds at: 15 percent, 8 percent, 2 percent and less than 1 percent. And betting markets put Trump’s chances at just 18 percent at midnight on Tuesday, when Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, cast its votes."

Well, the parallel might not be perfect, of course. But I'm sticking with it until someone comes up with a more apt comparison than this year's sure-thing frontrunner to the last two sure-thing frontrunners. Here, we can agree to disagree.

I also think that Joe has a "lock" on very few voters, the same as everybody else. Joe has a very...very...poor track record in these things, and if he's better at 76 than he was at 56 or 44, he would be a very rare politico indeed. He doesn't look very energetic thusfar.

For one, I don't think Lizzy Warren is going anywhere. She looks to me like a person who's on a mission from God. If Joe showed her focus, energy, and passion, I'd be enthusiastic about him too. But if all he can do is push-ups to answer questions about his age, he is toast waiting to be toasted, in my opinion.

I don't think anyone has to attack Joe at all, necessarily. If the last three elections show anything, it seems to me, it's that voters are hungry for someone new...Dems voted for a black guy in 2008 over Hillary, for goodness sake, then the WPP put forth Donald f-'n Trump in 2016. Folks are sick to death of the same old-same old, and no one is more same-old than Joe Biden.

I just think if, unless Joe shows more than he has so far, sooner or later, he'll be toast. The field may be thinned by more than 50% by after the holidays. If Joe wins Iowa by more than a 3-2 margin, he's probably safe. If a darkhorse wins, all bets are off.

First, I don't hate progressives. I mostly agree with them. Long term. But to answer your specific, quite legitimate and intelligent question, in 2016 we hadn't suffered years of Trumpism. And that's the difference. Biden and other moderates promise a return to a sane, globally reasonable, nationally humble nation. Just give us four years of American rehabilitation. That's all moderates want. And that's exactly what this fundamentally decent nation deserves.

These are my thoughts as well. I think moderates are longing for a return to more stable times and I'm hopeful that some of the apathy displayed in previous elections has been offset by 2 1/2 years of outrageous, exhausting crazy. This bears no resemblance to 2016.

God, I love these learned political analyses. We'll never know until lady sings.

I think for a lot of people it's like after a natural disaster or some such. After they've had to look at horror and be terrified and wondering if this nightmare will ever end, all they want is a roof over their head and some privacy and a hot bath and a real bed and to not wake up every morning feeling worried and scared to death. For things to just be normal. Not perfect, just normal. I guess that would make him Hurricane Donald but it's that idea. People want to rest and regroup. Many people anyway.

You know who was also an inescapable front runner? Hillary Clinton. And she stood pretty much alone in acting as a lightning rod for every dirty trick and calumny that could be devised. Joe Biden is in a superior position in my opinion. The other candidates need to after each other before they can go after Joe. They don’t have to of course. They just won’t get the votes they chip off Joe. Those will almost certainly go elsewhere. This is the same problem the Republican field had going after Trump. Attacking Trump just wasn’t going to get them committed Trump voters. And you know, Trump never once in his primary campaign managed to secure support over 50 percent of Republicans. First past the post made him the winner.

Speaking for myself I do not hate progressives. I have often written about them as the incubator of good ideas. But unfortunately they also come up with many very bad ones. And they tend to take a remarkably simplistic view of voter’s interests seeing allies where they don’t exist and making enemies pretty much everywhere else with attacks on the integrity of nearly everybody who opposes them for any reason at all. It does not seem to matter whether the difference is about policy or simply the pragmatic aspects of securing succesful passing of legislation. To do anything at all even in the teeth of implacable Republican opposition is characterized as caving.

And they have this really weird idea that being the most vocal and ideologically extreme element of the Democratic Party somehow makes them the base. To me they are puppies. Sometimes adorable but given to crapping on the carpet.
You could see that behavior in The Squad who felt perfectly comfortable challenging the integrity and decency of other party members but expected those very same people to leap to their defense when they got themselves in hot water or were attacked by Trump. Just like puppies when they picked a fight with a bigger dog.

As the Democratic Party’s least reliable voters I think they vastly overestimate their importance to winning elections. Real progressives are people like Nancy Pelosi who make progress where they can.

As an atheist can I say Amen? The rest of the world wants that too.

I should like to add one further observation. Trump ran as a moderate. Many of the ideas he incorporated into his campaign were taken from progressives. In particular his weird views on world trade that were designed to appeal to the demographic groups that won him his electoral college victory. Taken right from the progressive play book that was. Also promised vastly improved universal health care too. Also from the progressive playbook.

A stand-alone, fortress America has always been an ideological wet dream of both left and right. Chiefly because it's so intellectually seductive. And simplistic.

Not to drag you into a discussion or anything but I would take exception to the use of word intellectually. Seductive certainly. And not just in the US.

I stand corrected. Appropriately.

My wife and I use this analogy. We have agreed to just hunker down, ride out the shit storm and try to talk each other down as necessary. I should note that she has always identified as a Democrat but hadn't been registered to vote since the 90s. She remedied that in time for the 2018 midterms. What put her over the top were all the ugly posts on her Facebook page from family and long time friends she thought she knew. (They're all blocked now.)

I have a close friend who is what used to be called a moderate Republican. He's so disgusted and embarrassed he no longer votes. So that's Ds +1, Rs -1. I'd like to think this is a trend.

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