It’s still early in the 2020 campaign cycle, so political predictions are risky. Nonetheless, it appears that the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has already become a two-person contest. Elizabeth Warren has replaced Bernie Sanders as the most formidable challenger to front-runner Joe Biden according to the most recent YouGov, SurveyUSA, and NBC/WSJ polls. All show Warren gaining on Biden and Sanders falling back to third place. Assuming these polls are accurate, the rest of the Democratic candidates are stuck in single digits. This is very good news for President Trump, who will have little difficulty beating Biden or Warren.
Before discussing the fatal weaknesses of these candidates, however, a few words about recent polls showing the president losing hypothetical matchups with various Democratic candidates. They are no more credible than all those 2016 polls that showed Clinton trouncing Trump. Remember this poll from ABC showing her with a 12-point lead just two weeks before the election? Don’t forget this one paid for by the Atlantic giving her an 11-point lead or this poll from NBC showing her ahead by 10 points, or this one from Monmouth that found a 12-point Clinton lead. Polls showing any Democrat beating Trump in 2020 are equally useless.
Any poll, for example, that shows Bernie Sanders beating Trump simply cannot be taken seriously. The Vermont senator is still polling in double digits, but there is no possibility that the Democrats, even in their current state of disarray, are insane enough to nominate an unapologetic socialist to face an incumbent president in the midst of a strong economy. Electability is the primary concern of rank-and-file Democratic voters, and Sanders doesn’t fit the bill. The joint Trump-RNC fundraising committee is awash in money, and Sanders’ nomination would guarantee a large investment in campaign ads featuring his 1988 honeymoon in the USSR.
It is all but certain, then, that the president will end up facing Biden or Warren in the general election. It’s doubtful that Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign chairman, anticipates either possibility with dread. Biden is the front-runner at present, but it isn’t clear how long that will last. This is Biden’s third presidential campaign, not counting a very public 1984 flirtation with running, and his past candidacies are not exactly inspiring. He was forced to withdraw from his 1988 campaign a few months after its launch, when the campaign manager of rival candidate Michael Dukakis shopped a video to the media that proved Biden guilty of plagiarism.
Dukakis claimed no prior knowledge of the video and fired his campaign manager, but Biden was forced out of the race. Biden’s next foray into presidential politics involved an attempt to capture the 2008 Democratic nomination. This campaign was notable for numerous outbreaks of foot-in-mouth disease, including a remark about Barack Obama that may be his most famous gaffe: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Biden dropped out after coming in fifth place in the Iowa caucus, but Obama later elevated him to vice president by picking him as his running mate.
Obama attempted to atone for that sin, according to the New York Times, by trying to talk Biden out of running for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The Times claims Obama said, “You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t.” Unfortunately, Biden refused to heed this advice, and his campaign thus far has been even more cringe-worthy than his past runs. His latest major gaffe occurred Tuesday, when he assured the attendees of an AFL-CIO event that his proposed $8,000 tax credit for everyone who has child care costs “would put 720 million women back into the work force.” This is roughly twice the number of people living in the U.S.
Biden’s gaffes aren’t the scariest part of his campaign, however. Despite casting himself as a “moderate,” he has endorsed much of the radical agenda that has defined his party’s leftward lurch. For example, he favors giving illegal aliens free health care. During the June 27 Democratic debate, he was among the candidates who raised their hands when asked if their health-care plans included benefits for “undocumented immigrants,” saying it was “the humane thing to do.” Biden is also for radical gun control. Earlier this month, he said that he favored a ban on “assault weapons” and was against the right to carry firearms for self-defense.
Biden also supports federal funding of abortion. Reversing a long-held position, he now favors eliminating the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of taxpayer money to pay for such procedures. He has, of course, repeatedly flip-flopped on this issue depending on his audience. Elizabeth Warren also favors eliminating the Hyde Amendment. Unlike Biden, however, she has been all too consistent on this issue. She insists, “The Hyde Amendment limits women’s access to safe, legal abortion — particularly women of color. It’s time for Hyde to go.” Never mind that most Americans oppose federal funding of abortion, Warren knows what’s best for us.
Nor is the will of the voters the only thing Warren ignores when she believes she is right. She is a law professor and presumably has a passing familiarity with the text of the Constitution. Yet, earlier this month she tweeted the following: “On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking — everywhere.” The president doesn’t possess the power to ban fracking with the stroke of the pen. This would quite literally overturn an act of Congress. Nonetheless, she tells us, “I’ve got a plan to make sure that no President is above the law.”
As a candidate, she is also above telling the truth about how she will pay for grandiose boondoggles like “Medicare for All.” Tuesday night she appeared on the Stephen Colbert show, and he was presumptuous enough to ask where the all money was going to come from to pay for Medicare for All. She began yammering about her proposed “wealth tax,” which would impose a 2-percent annual tax on fortunes above $50 million and a 3-percent annual tax on those above $1 billion. This is very likely unconstitutional, and it certainly wouldn’t pay for M4A. Colbert asked her several times if she would raise taxes on the middle class. She simply refused to answer the question.
Obviously, if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination, President Trump isn’t going to be as gentle as Colbert. The Trump campaign will hammer her on her unaffordable health-care delusions and the inevitable tax increases the middle class will endure to pay for them, her hypocrisy on executive orders and the damage a fracking ban would do to the economy, her refusal to heed the will of the people on federally funded abortions, and her craven obeisance to the abortion industry. In fact, abortion may be the source of the most important obstacle standing between Warren and the presidency — her inability to connect with non-white voters.
Hispanics and blacks are by no means as enthusiastic about abortion as are white-bread progressives, and that may explain why Clinton failed to close the deal in some important swing states. Biden does far better than Warren with minority voters, but his most important problem is the increasing sense that he’s over the hill. This is the none-too-subtle point that Julián Castro was making when he asked Biden during the last Democratic debate if he had already forgotten an answer he had provided two minutes earlier. If the Biden campaign was unhappy about the way Castro handled this issue, they will really dislike what President Trump does with it.
In the end, Trump is the guy the Democratic presidential nominee must face once the primary season is over. Trump and the GOP will probably raise about $2 billion during the 2020 cycle, the largest campaign war chest in the history of American politics. Nor will Trump be hesitant to carpet-bomb his opponent when the time comes. Indeed, his campaign has already started dropping its payload on Biden with this video. If Warren overtakes Biden, she will be the next target. Neither Biden nor Warren is ready for a fight with Trump. The former doesn’t have the stamina, the latter’s support isn’t deep enough, and both are out of touch with the voters.