Commentary: Joe Biden is getting the opponent he wants. Is he wrong?


It may sound naive to appeal to morality in our age of bare-knuckle partisanship, but I’m going to risk it: Holding up Trump as a threat to American democracy and then hoping he wins the Republican nomination is, even for those hardened pragmatists who populate the political classes, incredibly cynical.

One either fears for the future of democracy, or one doesn’t. Fearing for the future of democracy – and then aspiring to use its potential demise as a campaign talking point reeks of hypocrisy. It also undermines the high ground team Biden wants to occupy.

But this is politics, not a morality play, and it’s Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who have turned this into a two-horse race, not Biden strategists. Still, the Biden team’s relentless focus on Trump has already shaped the battlefield in ways that may narrow the chances of a Biden victory.

National elections in the United States are generally won in one of two ways: By energising your base so that they turn out in greater numbers than your opponent’s, or peeling off “swing” voters with your centrist appeal. Doing both is exceedingly difficult, because the hot-button issues that rile the base tend to turn off those in the centre.

In post-Ronald Reagan political history, only Barack Obama in 2008 (winning nominally Republican states such as Florida, North Carolina and Ohio) and George HW Bush in 1988 (who won Democratic strongholds including California, Illinois and New Jersey) managed the feat.

By elevating Trump as a threat to democratic norms, the Biden team appears to be aiming for option one – a turnout victory. That makes sense, given how energised Democrats flocked to the polls in 2020 to vote Trump out of office, and did the same in the 2022 midterms to register their anger about the loss of abortion rights.

This article was originally published by a . Read the Original article here. .