Joe Biden: The Frontrunner Dems Don't Really Like

(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Democrats don’t like Joe Biden — he’s too popular.

From the Yogi Berra Institute for Advanced Whackery — er, Business Insider, actually — comes a new poll showing that while Joe Biden is the most-loved Democratic presidential contender, he’s also the least-liked. According to figures released on Sunday, “27% of likely Democratic voters would be unsatisfied with a Biden nomination, 21% would be dissatisfied with a Sanders win, and 15% would be dissatisfied with Warren.”

What that means is, should Biden win the nomination next summer, more than a quarter of Dems would face a serious “Meh” moment when deciding whether to even bother showing up at the polls in November. Contrast that with Ed Kilgore’s otherwise very stupid report last week showing that voter enthusiasm for the 2020 presidential election is “off the charts.” He writes:

Currently 88 percent of registered voters responding to the poll in question are enthusiastic in varying degrees about voting in the 2020 presidential election; only 11 percent are not. Of the enthused super-majority, 47 percent describe themselves as extremely enthusiastic and 24 percent as very enthusiastic. Taking the “extremely” and “very” enthusiastic voters together, that’s 71 percent currently. In late October 2016, the comparable number was 46 percent.

That’s a yuge change. The numbers come from CNN… I know, I know, but wait until you see the cross-tabs. Registered voters (it’s too soon to narrow down to likely voters) who approved of Trump’s job performance are either “extremely” or “very” enthused about voting next year — by a whopping 79%. If you’re a registered voter and you disapprove of Trump, you’re only 66% likely to be extremely or very enthused. Thirteen points is a major enthusiasm gap. And as Kilgore also notes, “White folks are more enthusiastic about voting than nonwhite folks; old folks are more psyched than young folks; Republicans are more whipped up than Democrats.” Those demos suggest that Democratic primary voters had better think long and hard about nominating someone who generates serious enthusiasm, but their frontrunner doesn’t seem to be the guy to do that.

We may be witnessing an election somewhat analogous to 2004. Then, as now, we had a polarizing Republican incumbent, and Democrats looking to avenge a “stolen” election four years prior. Dems ended up nominating John Kerry, an unexciting senator of no particular merit, and with a penchant for tall tales (I’m being overly generous in my description of him).

Sound familiar?

Democrat thinking in 2004 was, famously, “You don’t have to fall in love. You just have to fall in line.”. That attitude didn’t generate nearly enough enthusiasm to win the election.

So what I think is going on here is the Democrats getting caught once again in their electability trap. The “smart” move is to nominate someone who at least appears semi-centrist, so as not to turn off general election voters in droves. But according to these figures, Slow Joe isn’t going to generate the necessary enthusiasm with the hard-left progressive voters who are becoming the dominant force in the Dem party — far more so than they were in 2004. If Kerry were running today, instead of becoming the nominee, he’d be getting the Tim Ryan treatment. Kerry, a northeast lefty who never saw a tax or a spending program he didn’t love, is too conservative for today’s Democrats.

In Barack Obama, the Dems enjoyed the best of both worlds: A radical red-diaper-baby who could be made to appear moderate. The resulting “success” allowed the progressives to move the party so far to the left that not even Walter Mondale would recognize it today.

So I keep expecting Biden to flame out any week now, but he keeps hanging on in poll after poll. And if his South Carolina firewall holds, there’s probably a better-than-even chance that he becomes the nominee.

But at what cost to Democrat enthusiasm, at a time when Republican enthusiasm has almost never been higher?