With four months to the November election, President Trump has become a clear underdog in his campaign for a second term.
Trump has had to contend with a pandemic, historic levels of unemployment and the racially-charged aftermath from the police custody death of George Floyd. His bombastic style and “tweet storms” often make him his own worst enemy.
Polling results currently paint a grim picture for Trump’s re-election.
The most recent five polls have Trump trailing Joe Biden by an 11.4% average — including polls from the New York Times (14%) and Fox News (12%). In all six “battleground states” — Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina — Biden leads in each. Trump won them all in 2016.
Most significantly, the composite surveys show Trump with a 55% average disapproval rating, with only 41.2% approving. Trump will lose a “referendum” on his own job performance.
Trump needs to make the race with Biden a “choice” election.
The former vice-president is old — he would turn 78 at his swearing-in. That would make him older than President Ronald Reagan was when he left office.
Biden is given to verbal stumbles — many more than earlier in his gaffe-prone 50 year-long political career. That’s while conducting interviews mainly from his basement. His declining mental acuity will be under close examination as he campaigns more actively.
Biden won primaries convincingly as a “mainstream Democrat.” But since clinching the nomination, he has tacked further to the left to attract ardent young Bernie Sanders supporters.
He’s now endorsing “Bernie-Lite” nostrums of the Green New Deal, tuition-free college, higher taxes, health care for illegal aliens, a moratorium on all deportations and gun buybacks.
The Floyd protests have transformed the Democratic Party adding an increasing activist “woke” sense of racial justice to the party’s lurch to the left on economic socialism.
In light of Biden’s age, his choice for vice president may be more important than any in history.
When Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out of contention to be Joe Biden’s running mate, it removed the last relative centrist from the list of choices.
Though a committed liberal, Klobuchar resisted the more extreme demands from the left. With 14 years in the Senate, and being a “mainstream Democrat,” Klobuchar was fully qualified to be Biden’s VP.
A Biden-Klobuchar ticket could have been expected to appeal to swing voters —independents, disenchanted Trump voters.
Instead, Biden has boxed himself in by making a pledge to pick a woman and with Klobuchar’s recommendation in bowing out that Biden choose a woman of color as his running mate.
The leading candidate for vice president now is California Sen. Kamala Harris.
During her own brief mistake-prone presidential campaign that ended last December, Harris made unrestrained attacks on Biden for his opposition to school busing and working with segregationist senators.
Harris signed onto some of the most extreme policies of the left, including calling for the end of private health insurance and the Green New Deal. She also promised sweeping unilateral actions on guns, immigration and healthcare.
While Biden has kept the “defund the police” movement at arm’s length, Harris has not completely shut down activists’ calls to gut law enforcement. She embraces aspects of “defund the police,” including support for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s $150 million police budget cut.
Harris recently has twice marched and chanted with protesters outside the White House, as she campaigns to be Biden’s running mate.
A Biden-Harris ticket would look to increase turn-out among activists on the left — not persuade moderates.
The big question confronting a Biden presidency — is he too weak to control the more radical elements in the Democratic Party? Choosing Harris as his VP offers no comfort.
Trump may yet win a “choice” election. However, if the present trend continues, an historic repudiation of Trump could result, with the GOP Senate going down with him.
Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa and a delegate to four Republican National Conventions. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.