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Joe Biden Is a Bad Bet

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Fact is, every economic aspect of our Country is the best it has ever been!” read a recent Donald Trump tweet. Not surprisingly, Trump has made it clear that the economy’s strength will be the centerpiece of his re-election campaign. For that reason, the Democrats lining up to support former vice president Joe Biden as the most electable opponent to Trump have got it wrong. 

Trump can’t resist exaggerating the economic news, but there is much to boast about. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 1969, with job openings exceeding the numbers looking for work. Hispanic and African American unemployment rates, while still dramatically higher than the white rate, have hit record lows during Trump’s tenure

Trump, of course, is a bit like a drunk jumping on a street car headed downhill who thinks he’s driving with his foot on the gas. He claims that his de-regulation, his tax cuts, and his trade policies have made the difference. With the China trade deficit reaching a new height last year, the tax benefits going overwhelmingly to the already rich, and the deregulation blitz only beginning to take effect, his claims are a reach. But whether from good fortune or good policy, he can and will take credit from voters.

As Trump barrels forward, Democrats are engaged in a furious argument over how to stop him. Many Democratic primary voters indicate they are ready to support the candidate most likely to defeat Trump, even over their personal favorite. Joe Biden has become the early front-runner because of a widespread sense that he is the “safest bet” to be defeat Trump. Experienced and moderate, “Scranton Joe” is credited with having a special appeal to the white working-class voters that went to Trump, particularly in the key swing Midwestern states. 

Making the case for Biden, Andrew Sullivan dismisses arguments that he is too white, too old, too “handsy,” and too compromised to win. Sullivan maintains that Trump will turn out the Democratic base for any candidate, while Biden can appeal to moderate voters, notably non-college-educated white men. Biden enjoys the imprimatur, if not the endorsement, of one of the most popular Democrats, Barack Obama. A good portion of the party’s institutional centers—the money, the operatives, the union and establishment leaders—are rallying to his banner.

In fact, rather than the “safest bet,” Biden is more likely to end up the worst of all worlds—unable either to excite the emerging Democratic coalition of young people, minorities, and women or to win back the Obama-Trump working-class voters. He could easily become the Democratic equivalent of Bob Dole, the hapless Republican Senate leader who lost badly to Bill Clinton’s re-election bid.

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