It sure seems that way, doesn’t it? No one is talking about the Democratic nominees anymore. Bernie Sanders has vanished from sight, and Joe Biden is relegated to barking “is this thing ON?” into a microphone, live-streaming his ramblings about the Chinese coronavirus to a handful of the faithful (or maybe just Jill and a bevy of highly paid and barely talented political consultants).
A peek at Google Trends, which measures search traffic, shows a devastating decline in searches for information about poor Joe Biden over the last 30 days.
Even worse for the handsy former veep is what people are searching for:
Well, that’s not good for Grandpa Gaffe.
Bernie Sanders is in the same boat:
But what about Trump? Is anyone talking about him?
Trump is no doubt benefitting from whatever the global pandemic equivalent of a bully pulpit is. He gets an hour a day to speak directly to the American people, unfiltered by a hostile media that’s doing its level best to remove him from office by any means possible—which is why they’re threatening to pull the plug on the briefings. In spite of, or perhaps as a result of, the unhinged rantings and apocalyptic warnings of Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, and Rachel Maddow, Trump is not only dominating in search traffic, but he’s also gaining in popularity—which is why Democrats are busy spinning up another investigation.
What’s a poor irrelevant Democrat candidate to do?
In a normal election year, Biden would get the nomination nailed down early this spring and ride a wave of goodwill to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. But no one knows at this point whether there’ll even be a convention. Maybe the convention will just be Biden standing in a dimly lit room rambling about the good old days when he used to be able to grope and sniff women at will.
That doesn’t mean Trump’s reelection is ensured. We’re still nine months away from Election Day and we really have no idea at this point how the Chinese flu pandemic will play out in the U.S. But if Trump can remain a calming force amid a tumultuous crisis, and if he can project competence, and if the curve can be flattened so we don’t find ourselves burying hundreds of thousands of Americans, and if the economy is showing some signs of recovery by then—and that’s a lot of ifs—then it will be a cakewalk to a second term for POTUS.
In other words, the election is Trump’s to lose. With his opponents losing relevance with every passing day, all Trump needs to do is hold it together and not do anything crazy between now and then to win handily in November, even without his trademark rallies and despite the fact that the media and Democrats (same-same) are going to throw everything they have at him.
Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard