Former vice president Joe Biden had an impressive showing on ‘Mini Tuesday’, crushing the delegate count and potentially sticking the fork in Sen. Bernie Sanders’s faltering campaign, but Biden’s sudden primary victories belie major concerns about his ability to translate that success into a general election.
Biden pulled in two quick victories in Mississippi and Missouri, which signaled big trouble for Sanders since he lost Missouri by less than half a percentage point against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden continued his sweep by taking Michigan, the biggest prize of the night and a state in which the Democratic socialist pulled off an upset victory in the last election.
Tuesday night’s results were especially stunning given Biden had not won a single state until 10 days ago in South Carolina. His campaign was essentially revived from the dead — the other establishment candidates in the race, such as former mayors Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, dropped out one by one to endorse Biden ahead of Super Tuesday in the hopes that he would take out Sanders. Their gamble paid off.
Can Biden continue to perform at such a high level in a general election? Many signs point to no. Much of Biden’s advantage over Sanders comes from his popularity among older voters, who are far more likely to go vote than Sanders’s college fans. Bernie has proven to be a less formidable candidate than expected — while he may have had a point about the Democratic establishment suppressing his campaign a few weeks ago, Mini Tuesday shows his bigger problem is being unable to expand his base of support.
Biden has long been considered the candidate most likely to defeat President Trump in a general election— that, combined with high name recognition, made him the early favorite in the Democratic race. A key part of the electability argument for Biden is that he could potentially win back the blue collar voters in middle America who swung from Obama to Trump in 2016.
But Trump, unlike Bernie, will battle Biden head to head with older blue-collar voters, and it will be a tough fight. With the exception of some stock volatility due to the coronavirus threat, Trump has overseen a strong economy over the past three years that has included good growth in the manufacturing industry. Those voters may have little incentive to return to the Democratic party.
One area where Biden can edge Trump will be his strong support among black voters (he received the support of two-thirds of black voters in Michigan), who have proven to be a decisive voting bloc if they turn out in high numbers. It seems unlikely, meanwhile, that the Bernie base will be energized enough to go vote for Biden. Young people who, again, are already turning out in lower numbers than in 2016, have such distaste for Biden that they are making hugely popular TikTok videos begging Democrats not to force them to vote for him.
And let’s not forget the fact that Biden appears to be suffering from some kind of cognitive decline that is impossible to ignore. Whether it’s calling a female voter a ‘lyin’ dog-faced pony soldier’ or mocking another voter’s weight, even Democratic insiders are concerned that Biden’s constant gaffes and memory lapses could destroy him on the campaign trail or during debates against Trump.
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women created…by the — you know — you know the thing,’ Biden infamously said while attempting to reference the Declaration of Independence last week. It’s the type of fodder the Trump campaign should only be able to dream of, and no question they’re planning on using it as a line of attack.
These mental issues plagued Biden in Michigan today with exactly the type of voter he needs to earn back from Trump in order to build a winning coalition come November. During a visit to a Fiat plant in Detroit on Tuesday morning, Biden got into an aggressive spat with an auto worker over his gun control platform, during which he cursed at the voter, severely confused the facts on the issue, and threatened violence.
‘You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment rights and take away our guns,’ the worker told Biden.
Biden replied, ‘you’re full of shit.’ The exchange only went downhill from there: Biden lied about putting Beto ‘hell yes we’re going to take your AR-15s’ O’Rourke in charge of his gun control efforts, named the non-existent AR-14 as a gun he would like to take away, compared semi-automatic AR-15s to fully automatic machine guns, and called the worker a ‘horse’s ass.’
The most jarring part of the exchange was when the auto worker urged Biden not to jab his finger in his face, to which Biden shot back that the two should ‘go outside’.
Pundits are so desperate to gaslight voters into thinking Biden’s behavior is normal that they insisted the exchange with the auto worker was ‘terrific’, ‘impressive’, and ‘a good thing’. NBC News aired a portion of the video clip, but cut out the part where Biden threatened to slap the voter and praised him for ‘pull[ing] no punches’. Biden later explained away his behavior to a reporter by blaming the Sanders campaign for amplifying the moment. The media won’t be able to cover for Biden’s aggression when he is stuck on a debate stage with Trump, who will easily rile him up and then pummel him on every misstep.
‘This latest Biden meltdown is a great contrast for the Trump campaign and our efforts to gain union support,’ Bob Paduchik, the Trump campaign’s senior adviser for Labor and Law Enforcement Outreach told The Spectator. ‘Biden visits a plant that is going to employ thousands of people solely because of President Trump’s policies. While Joe Biden is there, he uses profanity to verbally assault a union worker that asked him a tough question.’
The Democratic establishment may be celebrating Mini Tuesday because it appears they’ve successfully avoided nominating a socialist, but they have much more to worry about once Biden has secured the nomination. He is still an incredibly weak candidate whose flaws will be over exposed during a general election in which he will not be able to hide behind high profile endorsements and glowing media coverage.