Let’s repeat it together three times: Preprimary polls testing would-be presidential nominees have all the permanence of numbers written with a stick in the wet sand at the ocean’s edge just before the high tide comes in.
Recent history confirms the unreliability of such polls. In October 2015, the respected Washington Post-ABC News Poll showed Hillary Clinton crushing Sen. Bernie Sanders 64 percent-25 percent. Not quite four months later, in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, Sanders trounced Clinton, winning 60 percent of the vote to her 38 percent. In October 2015, the Republican leader was Dr. Ben Carson, and when Donald Trump was matched up, separately, against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), decisive majorities of GOP voters preferred Rubio and Cruz.
The direction of polls among 2020 Democratic primary voters has not been encouraging for erstwhile front-runner and Vice President Joe Biden, as supporters watched his once commanding lead over the field shrink to a neck-and-neck contest with the clearly surging Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But make no mistake about it: Biden’s presidential candidacy has repeatedly received — in fall 2019 — an enormous “endorsement.”
Contrary to all his empty boasts about his campaign’s wonderful polls in all the battleground states, Trump must be terrified of running against Biden. How else to explain his dispatching Rudy Giuliani, the current incarnation of Trump’s personal attorney, or consigliere (trying to fill the Guccis of the otherwise-detained Michael Cohen), as a globe-circling, presidentially endorsed U.S. vigilante looking for unpaid parking tickets, or kindred offenses, attributed to anyone named Biden?
So scared is the Trump “organization” of the former vice president that the president has turned the attorney general of the United States, William Barr, into an errand boy for Giuliani, entreating America’s perplexed allies for any scrap of opposition research on American citizens. This is, frankly, sad to watch.
But for Biden, who ought to, once and for all, ditch the sunglasses — sorry, Joe, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to believe anyone who’s wearing shades — this all-out attack from Team Trump is a tribute and a political opportunity.
In this fractious year, Democrats are split over Medicare for All or preserving Obamacare and a dozen other issues. But Democrats are united in their desire and commitment to return Trump to private life. Biden is manifestly the opponent Trump least wants to run against.
The Biden campaign should borrow from an earlier Democratic campaign. When Democrat Grover Cleveland — opposed tooth-and-nail by Republican politicians and financiers, along with corrupt Democratic machine politicians — was nominated by former Union Brigadier General and Wisconsin Rep. Edward S. Bragg, Bragg said of Cleveland: “We love him for the enemies he has made.”
Forget the polls, the Biden campaign can argue, we know which Democrat most terrifies Trump to the point that he’s willing to risk his own likely impeachment and the careers and reputations of those around him. It’s that straightforward: We love Biden for the enemies he has made.
To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.