Coming off his South Carolina win last Saturday, Joe Biden goes into Super Tuesday with new momentum. His two main rivals in the center lane, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg have dropped out and endorsed him. A slew of endorsements, from former Senator Harry Reid and Rep. Beto O’Rourke serve as further evidence that Democratic party leaders and moderates are coalescing around the former Vice President. Pundits have praised Biden for his win in South Carolina and these recent moves by other Democrats, hoping his campaign will be revitalized and that Bernie’s path to the nomination will be blocked. Many Democrats believe Biden is the one who can beat Trump, but I believe it is Bernie that poses a real threat to the President’s re-election bid.
Biden is seen as the presidential, modest alternative that can unite the country to defeat President Trump. People believe his approach to politics and his long record will allow him to build a strong coalition that includes the Democratic base and moderate voters. However, I believe Biden’s ability to build a coalition is one of the weakest in the field. He does not energize the progressive wing of the party or young people, important demographics that will need to turn out to beat Trump in November. While Biden does have the support of older black voters, Hillary lost due to lower turnout of black voters in 2016 in key states and only Bernie has been able to energize younger voters of color.
One reason why people excuse Biden’s age and his intellectual pitfalls is the fact that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are both older men. But while both of those men have a sharpness and toughness to their speech, Biden appears soft and unable to form even basic sentences at time. Not only are his gaffes a concern as the nominee, as they will destroy his ‘serious’ image and be exploited by Trump, but as a world leader. Biden cannot meet with a foreign leader and forget where he is, or accidentally call an ally a great enemy or misstate how many troops are stationed in a region. While you may not believe his age should matter, its consequences on his image will hurt his ability to lead as a nominee and leader.
While Biden would falter to childish attacks by President Trump, Bernie may have an ability to overcome these kinds of attacks. Bernie simply needs to keep redirecting voters to the issues and his message, and his ability to stay consistent will help him reach this goal. Bernie is also an energizing factor in the party, and while progressive do need to be courted moderates, when faced with the ultimate decision between Trump and their nominee, will most likely pick their nominee.
While I do see strengths in Bernie, Trump is the favorite in the presidential race. In a two-way race between Bernie and Trump it would be hard to debate Trump as extreme, especially as we are in the midst a roaring economy. I also believe that the progressiveness of the American electorate has been overstated and Democrats won the house by appealing to the center not the hard left. Even with these caveats, Bernie is certainly the most unpredictable and potentially the strongest candidate to beat Trump. Now we wait and see if the Democratic establishment realizes this or if they will let Biden sleep to the nomination.