US Democratic presidential candidacy – popularity versus electability

There is no indication yet whether there will be any serious Republican contender for the presidential nomination prepared to stand against Donald Trump. That’s if Trump stands again for a job it is claimed he never really wanted in the first place – I think it quite likely Trump will stand again, as an excuse to keep having campaign rallies where he is cheered for his crass attacks and incitement, and to try to prove he can win the popular vote in an election without the help of the Russians.

All the action is in with Democrat candidates, where there are now eleven at least semi-serious contenders with ex-vice president Joe Biden now officially in the contest – Former VP Biden’s 2020 bid reshapes White House race

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden entered the 2020 Democratic presidential field on Thursday as an instant front-runner, drawing momentum away from other leading candidates and putting new pressure on underperformers to find ways to stay relevant.

Biden, 76, a longtime U.S. senator who served two terms as former President Barack Obama’s No.2, announced his bid in a video describing the high stakes of the race to take on President Donald Trump in next year’s election.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden said. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and let that happen.”

Trump responded with typical name calling and irony:

Trump responded in a post on Twitter, saying “welcome to the race Sleepy Joe” and slamming Biden’s intelligence.

Someone of Biden’s political stature was bound to impact on the field of candidates.

Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia, says it remains unclear if Biden can build on his loyal base of support. If that happens, it could come at Sanders’ expense.

Given his longstanding support from African-Americans and his partnership with Obama, Biden could also affect the candidacy of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who is widely regarded as a serious contender for the nomination.

Polls have already installed Biden as favourite. He is reasonably popular, but does that men he is electable?

Five Thirty Eight: Democrats Think Biden Is Electable, But He’s Not Everyone’s First Choice

Beating President Trump in November 2020 is really important to Democrats. Sizable shares of Democrats tell pollsters that a candidate’s “electability” will be a very important factor in their primary vote — even more than the candidate’s policy positions. The problem is that we don’t know for sure what makes a candidate electable.

But we can get an idea of what Democratic voters think an electable candidate looks like by finding polls that ask voters which 2020 presidential hopeful they think has the best chance of winning the general election, in addition to asking who they would support independent of electability concerns.

At least two recent polls have asked both questions: a Quinnipiac poll of registered Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters in California and a Granite State Poll of likely New Hampshire primary voters (conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center). Perhaps unsurprisingly, in both cases, the percentage of voters who say each candidate is the most electable is very similar to the percentage of voters who support each candidate.

But there are some telling divergences: Some candidates widely seen as electable don’t have as much support from voters, while others who have generated a lot of voter enthusiasm aren’t seen as particularly strong general-election candidates.

The table below looks at the difference in each poll between the share of voters who support each candidate and the share who think he or she is the strongest general-election candidate, then averages those differences.

There is quite a difference between those two polls so I don’t think too much can be taken from it, but it shows that Biden and Bernie Sanders are the obvious front runners.

By election time next November Sanders will be 79 years old, while Biden will be nearly 78. If either won they would be presidents while in their eighties.

Trump is just a little younger – he will be 74 next election. I don’t think there’s much chance of him growing up by then.

If those three turn out to remain the leading contenders then health will be a wild card – health of the old men candidates.

There is a lot of campaigning to go just to get nominated, and there could be other candidates yet to declare their intentions, so it’s difficult to judge how it could go for the  Democrats.

Meanwhile if Trump puts himself forward again and doesn’t get beaten for the candidacy – it’s difficult to know what the Republicans would prefer, to stick with a badly flawed incumbent president, or to try someone else if anyone is prepared to stand against Trump – much will probably depend on what happens over the next 18 months with the economy, with trade deficits, with the huge and growing deficit, with international relations, and with sideshows like the US-Mexico wall.

And whether Trump can pull back support, especially in crucial states, or whether he keeps disappointing and pissing off more and more people.  His core support is at least 10% too light – but any Democratic opponent would also have to appeal to the moveable vote in the middle, and it’s far too soon to know if any of them look capable of that.

33 Comments

  1. David

     /  26th April 2019

    Trump welcomes Biden to the race:
    “Welcome to the race Sleepy Joe. I only hope you have the intelligence, long in doubt, to wage a successful primary campaign. It will be nasty – you will be dealing with people who truly have some very sick & demented ideas. But if you make it, I will see you at the Starting Gate!”
    Trump is comedy gold. I dont think Biden will get voters to the polling booth, while he is a likeable guy he wont motivate democrats he has just been around far too long. Today will be the best day of his campaign and it will be all downhill from here, ugly way for him to finish his political career.

  2. Corky

     /  26th April 2019

    What a gallery of non entities. At least with Trump you know something is going to happen.
    Therefore I will be rooting for Uncle Joe. America needs a ‘wake up’ call to the way things used to be. If they want nostalgia, let the American people have nostalgia.

    One things for sure, the physiological balance of liberal snowflakes hangs on the Democrats winning the next election.

    • “At least with Trump you know something is going to happen.”

      Most of what seems to happen with Trump is he keeps getting distracted with petty attacks on Twitter, while policies that could really make a difference get neglected.

    • Corky

       /  26th April 2019

      *psychological*

  3. I wonder how long that name calling gimmick of Trump’s will work. After all its not new or unexpected anymore. And what comes next? A return to decency or a trip deeper into the sewer.

    • It helped him in the last campaigns (Republican nomination and versus Clinton), but there is a risk that it will largely be seen as same-old pettiness in lieu of substance and credible results next year.

      • Gezza

         /  26th April 2019

        It’s very successful tactic. Once Trump gives an opponent a label, it sticks. I don’t know much about Biden but he strikes me right at the outset as immediately forgettable.

        • Trying to stick a label on political opponents is an old trick. It has often been tried in New Zealand politics, but more by activists than be politicians.

          • Pink David

             /  26th April 2019

            “Trying to stick a label on political opponents is an old trick. It has often been tried in New Zealand politics, but more by activists than be politicians.”

            Trumps trick is not to stick a label on political opponents. His trick is the label he sticks on them is, often, so absolutely perfect that no one can think of that person again without mentally also recalling the label;.

            Low energy Jeb
            Robot Rubio, who then magically, starts repeating himself like a malfunctioning robot.
            Ly’ing Ted

        • Gezza

           /  26th April 2019

          Yeah but Trump’s made it a Trademark. There probably isn’t an opponent he’s tagged whose denigratory label doesn’t pop into someone’s head as soon as they think of them. He’s picked a cracker for Biden. This came immediately to mind because I remember it so well now.

        • Pink David

           /  26th April 2019

          “It’s very successful tactic. Once Trump gives an opponent a label, it sticks.”

          Yeap, he ended Jeb Bush, Rubio’s and Cruz’s runs almost in an instant with his nicknames.

          “I don’t know much about Biden but he strikes me right at the outset as immediately forgettable.”

          Hence, Sleepy Joe.

  4. Trevors_elbow

     /  26th April 2019

    Geez… relentless, repetitive attacks on Trump. Living rent free in your head Pete.

    You abhor ad hominem attacks you say….. But every single post on Trump is littered with your name calling aimed at him.

    It seems you are what you accuse others of being Peter….

    • I don’t think I have name called Trump at all. And the amount of shit he throws at others (which you don’t seem to have a problem with)?

      Did you miss the fact that this post is largely about Democratic candidates?

      • Gezza

         /  26th April 2019

        The geriatrics among the Dem’s candidates can probably be dismissed as serious contenders against Trump. They need to find & front a serious younger candidate with some genuine charisma. I was going to say and policy but America is so lost and shallow as a society they may as well face it they are going to be voting on the basis the whole election is an extended reality tv show.

        Policy won’t even be noticed. The Dem’s policies so far from here just look a collection anti-Trump policies.

        Trump might be a geriatric too but he’s got the personality of a school bully who spends his time tweeting insults & whining & telling porkies – & that’s the kind of President millions of Americans seem to want to lead their country. And the Dem’s root for any dim-witted other person that puts their hand up & says “I’ll stand up to the school bully”. And that’s about all they’ve got.

        That’s how vacuuous America has got.

        • “They need to find & front a serious younger candidate with some genuine charisma”

          I’m not confident the Democrats are capable of that.

          • Gezza

             /  26th April 2019

            No, Pete. Neither am I. I see it as only an outside chance. They have a big problem figuring out how to appeal to a collection of liberal special interest groups plus middle Americans – whose world is a complex place. Versus huge numbers of Trump voters, whose worldview is really simple.

          • Gezza

             /  26th April 2019

            I look at it this way, Trump doesn’t just appeal to the Archie Bunkers & Boss Hoggs & Roscoe P Coltranes, & gun nuts, but also to the slightly more intellectually upmarket right wing who go, “Well, I agree with him he’s rich & successful & he’s lowering my taxes & slashing government & making Jerusalem the poor Israeli Jews’ capital & so I’m voting for him, warts and all.”

            Not noticing or not caring that it’s the warts they’re getting.

            • Duker

               /  26th April 2019

              You fogett the Christian voters who once about about personal morality of the candidate until they weren’t.
              A serious Challenger would have to come from the Christian right… But have crossover appeal NOT like that robot Pence

            • Pink David

               /  26th April 2019

              “You fogett the Christian voters who once about about personal morality of the candidate until they weren’t.”

              They have worked out that moral candidates don’t do very well in politics. They will pick an immoral person who doesn’t think infanticide is a good idea over anything else now.

      • Trevors_elbow

         /  26th April 2019

        He is crass….apparently… an inciter….

        You were quite restrained in this post for a change

  5. Duker

     /  26th April 2019

    I think we can safety say Trump WILL run again. why else would he be doing fundraisers

  6. MaureenW

     /  26th April 2019

    Biden ran in 2008 and dropped out after coming in 5th place and capturing 1% of the vote in the Iowa caucus.
    The democratic candidates are likely to be running to assist Clinton (the Clintons control the Democratic Party). A bit like having 2 Bernie Sanders this time, to campaign on things Clinton doesn’t have to/ or want to, then hand that vote to her. Should be a hoot!

    • Duker

       /  26th April 2019

      That was before 8 years as vice president… Nowdays the internet means the candidates don’t have to raise decent money from big donors and of course campaigning via spending on internet ads is a lot cheaper as you can target those primary voters much more easily

      • MaureenW

         /  26th April 2019

        8 years as a creepy touchy Vice President, he’s now 74 – he doesn’t have a show in hell – just be another lackey like Bernie

        • MaureenW

           /  26th April 2019

          76 for Biden – 77 for Sanders – and a spritely 71 for Clinton. I guarantee the first two won’t be at the starting blocks

  7. Zedd

     /  26th April 2019

    Bernie for Prez in 2020 !! 😀

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  26th April 2019

    It’s quite clear Trump intends to run and planned to do so from the outset. If he does barring something extraordinary happening prior there won’t be any serious challenger:
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/04/25/_president_trumps_unorthodox_campaign_strategy_is_paying_off_140160.html

    • Kimbo

       /  26th April 2019

      Leaving aside Nixon who resigned, the last incumbent who didn’t run when constitutionallly permitted was Johnson in 1968. And he wasn’t a one-term POTUS, as he came into office after the JFK assassination. Last one term POTUS who didn’t run again was Rutherford B Hayes, 1877-1881!

      • Duker

         /  26th April 2019

        Nixon had already been elected to his maximum second term when he resigned so wasn’t an exception

    • Kimbo

       /  26th April 2019

      Sorry, do you mean a Republican challenger…or the eventual Democrat candidate too? Big call if it is the second. Yes, you would favour the incumbent to win, but George Bush I seemed a shoo-in after the first Gulf War in 1991 hen he rated higher than any POTUS before him, but then he got caught by a recession.

      As per Harold Macmillan’s advice about the driving force of politics (and winning the Rugby World Cup 😀): “events, my dear boy, events”.

  9. Pink David

     /  26th April 2019

    The future belongs to old, white, men!

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  26th April 2019

      Now of their three score years and ten,
      Eighty will not come again,
      And take from seventy years four score,
      It only leaves them minus ten.