Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) is on top of the world right now. The polling world.
The question is can he hold his top position for 16 months? The hard negative campaigning against him hasn’t really started yet. According to Gallup (May 15th), 53 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of Biden, compared to only 35 percent with a negative opinion. That’s an 18 point favorability spread. President Donald Trump currently has a 42.1 favorable rating and 53.4 unfavorable rating giving him an 11.3 point negative rating.
Amazingly, Biden almost has a 30 point advantage over Trump in favorability ratings. Remember both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and then candidate Donald Trump (R) had negative spreads just prior to the 2016 election. Clinton had a favorability rating of negative 12.6, and Trump won the presidency with a whopping 21 point negative rating. Hillary had an overall 8 point favorability rating advantage, and still lost the presidency, but did win the popular vote.
As the negative attacks start to mount, and voters are reminded of Obama Administration mistakes, can Biden keep his very high favorability numbers? We may have seen a glimpse of Biden’s ability to survive by how he handled his first negative attack, when he was accused by several women of being an overly aggressive hugger and toucher. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) didn’t hesitate to criticize Biden, in an attempt to damage him right out of the gate. Biden admitted it, claiming it was part of his nature, apologized, and said he realized cultures change over time and that he will have to adapt.
The real surprise was that Biden’s poll leadership and favorability numbers increased significantly, while Bernie Sanders’ poll numbers went down. Bernie was also hurt during that period because extreme violence in Venezuela focused the public on the dangers of Socialism. The breakdown of civil society in Venezuela may have done more than hurt Sanders, the avowed socialist. It might also have made Biden’s moderation seem more attractive to Democratic voters. Biden may now have some room to push back against the far left within his own party.
The negative attacks will only continue and intensify on Mr. Biden as his primary opponents attempt to gain an edge. He has not entirely addressed the scandal involving Ukraine, where he bragged about threatening to hold back taxpayers money if Ukraine did not fire a prosecutor who happened to be reviewing his son’s involvement in an energy company. Biden’s statement was: “there is not a single, solitary thing that was inappropriate about my son.” However, if Biden really believe his son was innocent, why did he threaten to cut a billion dollars of funding and only give the Ukrainian government six hours notice? Biden’s one asset in this and future negative stories is a DC press corp biased heavily in his favor and against Donald Trump. They will never attack him, or hype negative stories about him, with the intensity and fervor they bring every day to covering President Trump. The 91% negative press coverage of Trump is well documented.
Will any of the Democrat candidates have the courage to attack Biden with enough ferocity to damage his support? They’d have to want the job badly enough to cross both the Democratic Party machine and the political press–both of whom want Trump defeated in 2020 and currently see Biden as their best hope. If a Democrat does raise questions about Biden’s record, pay attention to whether the press presses Biden or turns on the other candidate.
As for Trump, it’s hard to see where the additional negative attacks are going to come from. He was attacked for being a Russian stooge, a racist, a womanizer, a bigot, an idiot, hot tempered and sleeping with a porn star and trying to buy her silence. A former head of the CIA even accused him of treason. A growing number of voters see these claims as outlandish, unproven or fabricated by the press (Fake News).
Trump is a survivor. Prior to the 2016 Election the Billy Bush scandalous interview and Venezuela Miss World scandal both came out within a short time period and would have ended almost any other political career. Amazingly, it did not even appear to slow Trump down. What the DC press fails to see is that their constant attacks on his style and policy decisions only reenforce his image as an outsider, even as he runs for reelection as the incumbent.
If the general election is Trump vs Biden, it will get ugly very quickly, and no one will be able to hold on to high favorability ratings for very long.