Laying the Seeds of Blame for an Electoral Loss

(Michael P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

The media was all aghast over eight words during a 30-minute Trump news conference when some reporter for Playboy asked a ridiculously worded question about “conceding” the election.  Those words were: “We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”  Immediately the media jumped the shark with the latest Trump conspiracy theory suggesting that Trump will chain himself to the Oval Office and surround the White House with tanks, have Ivanka rip up the Constitution, and then declare himself dictator for life.

Others, like the Lincoln Project, seem to be gleeful over the apparent lack of Trump advertisements irrespective of the fact that as President, Donald Trump gets plenty of free advertisement by virtue of a campaign rally, news conference where he takes unscripted questions, a Tweet, or some Presidential action.  Conversely, Biden is burning through a $214 million ad buy in key states.  I know; I live in the Philadelphia media market and the 15-second Biden ads are getting annoying.  He reminds me of that Gilligan’s Island episode where Gilligan dreams he’s a dictator who promises the throngs “…this, dat, and everything.”

We are two days away from the first Presidential debate.  Because we on the Right are apt to point out Biden flubs, even when he performs (for Biden) relatively “well,” I fear we have set the Biden performance bar way too low.  We are expecting him to be a babbling, incoherent, drooling fool when we might get something different.

In any case, as we often point out good polling news such as a tightening race in key swing states, rest assured the Biden campaign also sees those polls and the internals.  While Trump travels the country holding old-style rallies, Biden hides in his bunker.  Often, he closes down the media shop before noon.  Some of this is explained away as “debate prep” time.  Why someone who has been a DC politician for four decades needs debate “prep time” boggles the mind.  He is likely rehearsing his one-liners since there will be no note cards or Teleprompters.

Despite the rumors and suggestions that Biden would avoid debating Trump, it is happening.  Perhaps Biden is placing all his eggs in this basket in hopes of changing course with respect to those tightening polls or news of unprecedented Republican registration numbers in swing states.  If so, it is a high-risk gamble for Biden.  Or perhaps the bunker mentality is just a “rope-a-dope” strategy as Michael Brendan Dougherty at National Review suggested.

Currently, it appears that Trump is headed for an Electoral College victory with somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 300 electoral votes.  However, Biden will likely win the popular vote count.  One analysis had Trump safely winning the EC while losing the popular vote by up to 5 million, which would be larger than Hillary’s margin in 2016.  It also appears that the votes will be very close in certain swing states and the number of swing states is larger this year than in 2016.  One can add Trump-won states from 2016 like Arizona and North Carolina, and Clinton-won states like Maine, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.  Throw in the turmoil with expanded mail-in voting in many states and one can see why Trump would say, “We have to wait and see what happens.”

This writer has another theory for the Biden “strategy” and it is threefold.  First, a huge advertisement campaign- even 15 second snippets of promises- limits his flubs unscripted.  Whether they register in the minds of voters is another story altogether.  Second, the Biden campaign may be relying upon electoral chaos to throw his cabal of election lawyers into action.  This would confirm Hillary’s “don’t concede” advise to Biden.

Third, and most importantly, Biden likely knows or feels that Trump is headed for victory and he is just going through limited motions at this point.  He and his campaign knows he cannot deliver a Trump-style rally of enthusiastic people.  He cannot even get five cars to assemble for a rally.  Trump is dynamic and exciting on the campaign trail; Biden not so much.  He and his campaign can do electoral math with the best of us.

His actions make sense when viewed through a prism of laying the foundation for the reasons for his ultimate loss.  It will be the Electoral College is rigged and not all the votes were counted (or other such nonsense), followed by finger-pointing at his campaign people who restricted his access to the public.

But every action taken by Biden thus far appears that he is a reluctant candidate thrust into the nomination.  His announcement of Kamala Harris was met with little enthusiasm and he got no discernible bump in any poll outside states he was going to win anyway.  The DNC “convention” was a boring disaster complete with technical flubs and monitors of “the crowd” either doubled-up or blank.  His few appearances are sorry affairs with circles drawn in abandoned warehouses and open fields.

Instead of the excuses (Hillary may have set the record for excuses for her 2016 loss), the Democrats must come to the ultimate conclusion that they nominated a candidate slightly more likable than Hillary Clinton (I still contend Biden’s gaffes are built into his numbers much like Trump’s sometimes bombastic comments are built into his numbers), but also one where there is considerably less enthusiasm.  All those polls out there concentrate on the top-line.  Within those polls, however, one sees greater enthusiasm among Trump voters than among Biden voters.

Further, given the enthusiasm gap, this is not 2016 with other options on the ballot.  There is no Jill Stein, Evan McMullin, or Gary Johnson to siphon votes in swing states like Michigan or Arizona.  There will be the Lincoln Project protege who will vote for Biden “…because Trump,” but they are insignificant, despite their bloviated claims.

So I expect Joe Biden to perform “OK” (by Biden standards) in the debate and land a blow here or there.  And I further expect Trump to do likewise so that in the end, despite what the spin doctors say, very few minds will be changed and it will be a “draw.”  Biden lacks the stamina and the enthusiasm evident with Trump to deliver a knock-out punch no matter how much “prep” he undergoes.

One thing for certain: it will be highly watched because in the end. Trump is a better performer than Biden could ever hope to be.  People will not watch the debate for Biden; they will watch it “…because Trump.”  And that spells electoral loss for Biden.