Till recently, the former VP Joe Biden looked less than capable of defeating Donald Trump in the US 2020 election but after COVID-19 struck, the equations have changed to his advantage fast. It is because America suddenly has started believing that a traditional politician will be more than helpful in tackling the crisis than a publicity-hungry one, DKODING analyzes.
It would have taken a magician to change things as they have in America’s political circles at the moment. In February, the country’s unemployment rate was around three and a half percent and the Democratic Party was hit by disagreements and divisions that made it an unlikely win against President Donald Trump in the November 3 election.
From there, the news that White House has ordered several government agencies to prepare for an orderly transition of power keeping in mind a win for Joe Biden in the general election marks a 180-degree turnaround. President Trump has also started trailing Biden in various polls which clearly suggests that the equations of the upcoming battle are no more the same for the mercurial incumbent.
Politics is known to be unpredictable — a domain where impossible is not a trusted term. But what made Trump’s fortune look less favorable in such a short time? The Republican is not a conventional politician per se but he is certainly a politician of the post-truth times. He knows how to hit the voters where he needs to and has dominated America’s political scene over the past few years not without a reason.
The post-Barack Obama Democrats have struggled to break the ice because identity-driven politics is what is prime in US politics at the moment and with the economy in perfect shape till the arrival of COVID-19, Trump knew very well that running the project of the identity-based politics against the opponents who were too divided and confused would be more than good in securing his political future.
Biden was less than impressive in the beginning
Let alone the present advantage over Trump, Biden looked less than convincing when he started his US 2020 election campaign. Factors like age, oratorical slips, and lack of endorsement from the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for a long time made the former White House No.2 look less strong against progressive opponents like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and young faces like Pete Buttigieg. There were not many many convincing things that Biden was either saying.
Joe Biden tried to showcase during his campaign run that he has the required experience to lead a White House administration but the long-serving politician also has heavy baggage like in the form of supporting the Iraq War of 2003 or his controversial stand on desegregation bussing. While the likes of Sanders and Warren were speaking from positions of progressive viewpoints, Biden looked increasingly under pressure. Pundits even started forecasting that arrival of a billionaire candidate like Mike Bloomberg could leave Biden even weaker.
The Ukraine episode made it concerning for Biden even more even as Trump ended up getting impeached by the Dems-controlled House while attacking him over the issue. Trump also kept on ridiculing Biden as ‘Sleepy Joe’ to win the contest of who looks better on screen.
After two back-to-back poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden was almost written off. Nevada saw a slight improvement but it was at the South Carolina primary on February 29 that Biden made a big turnaround, thanks to the support of the African-American community which was also mobilized by a senior leader from the state Jim Clyburn. It was the start of Biden’s dream run and he went on to dominate each of the Super Tuesday contests in March. The Democratic Party’s realistic move of unifying the party’s moderate wing behind Biden also paid off as it feared Sanders’ win in the nomination race could not only hurt their prospects in the November election but also the dominance in the House.
For Biden, those were defining moments in the run-up to the electoral battle. Politically, however, he was still not matching Trump enough. Until coronavirus arrived and devastated the US. The timing of the pandemic could not have been more perfect for Biden even though he has restricted himself to his residence in Delaware and led a virtual campaign. The strategic slowdown has allowed the focus to fall on limelight-monger Trump more and it is not a highlight that the president is enjoying.
Coronavirus has nullified Trump’s style
One of Trump’s strong points is that he has a very good knack of disconnecting himself from reality — repeatedly and tenaciously — and focuses on messages that cut through instead of getting stuck in important-but-boring details. While at other times, this ploy helps the commander-in-chief to outsmart his less media-friendly opponents and critics, it has not worked that well during the pandemic that has affected more than a million people in the country.
Death of more than 58,000 people is too harsh a reality that Trump and his spin masters can disconnect from and go to the offensive as the best form of defense as they often do. The people of America have suddenly started feeling tired of entertaining shows from the chief executive when it comes to the serious business of handling a fatal crisis. The frequent discomfort that specialists like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx are facing as members of Trump’s coronavirus task force is not helping things either.
Biden’s 2009 role as VP in the response to Recession comes alive
This has bettered Biden’s chances giving him an advantage over Trump in the US 2020 elections. Suddenly, the average fatigued American mind is feeling that it is time for the traditional politician to take, no matter how old he is or how slippery his tongue could be. And to his good luck, the voters have started to see in him the deputy to Obama whose administration took office in a similar situation in 2009 — when the US was fighting another tough economic crisis in the form of the Recession.
That year, too, the voters turned to see if the opposition Democrats could do things better than the incumbent Republicans whose wars abroad had also left the people jaded. And after the Obama administration took over, it was Biden who oversaw a massive $800-billion government-spending program to rescue the US from the massive collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“If we do everything right, there’s still a 30 percent chance we’re going to get it wrong,” Biden himself said then, indicating the honesty with which he fought the emergency. That experience has made Biden a perfect presidential pick for today’s situation.
Trump has found no exit strategy
Secondly, Trump has not been able to find an exit strategy from the pandemic mess. All his rhetoric has fallen short of actually turning the situation around overnight. He is desperate to reopen the economy but that always heightens the possibility of more infection spreading and hurting the GOP in the Swing States.
It is not Trump’s fault that he has found himself trapped between the pandemic and recession. But it is certainly his fault that he made his administration a one-faced entity. That brought all the sins back on his shoulders. Biden’s advantage is that he can target Trump more from the comforts of his home overlooking policies since the current administration has none to tackle the crisis.
Trump has not been able to find an exit strategy from the pandemic mess.
The president’s relentless attacks on the media, critics, and foreign powers like China have created such a comfort zone for Biden that he can wait till winning the election to come up with a policy to rebuild the economy. He can let Trump damage his own chances beyond repair.
To his advantage, Biden has big support among the black Americans and by picking a woman running mate, he can aspire to win more voters that hate Trump in the US 2020 Elections. Also by incorporating progressive ideas in his campaign, Biden can hope to win the disgruntled supporters of Sanders. The former VP can also win over some of the white, working-class voters owing to his Delaware-Pennsylvania roots. The man can also be trusted as far as safeguarding the foundations of civil rights are concerned. There is more pragmatism in the politics of Biden than Trump who rules more by playing the populist’s tune.
Was the election of 2016 more of an aberration? The voters of the US can prove a point or two on that this year.