Former Vice President Joe Biden is ahead of all other candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination for president, in a recent Fox News poll. With 35% he leaves Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the dust at only 17%. The other candidates barely make a dent.
It is not surprising that Biden came out of the gates at number one, given his supreme name recognition among Democrats. He is a known variable. But as an old-timer, there is no enthusiasm for him. Given this, the typical trajectory for him would be to fall as the other candidates got more media exposure. Yet Biden rose by 4% from the previous poll just one month earlier. This is an early indicator that none of the candidates garner significant enthusiasm among the voters.
Pete Buttigieg is no exception. His media hype notwithstanding, only 6% of the Democrats want him as their presidential candidate.
More Conservative Voters
What is going on? We may have already received the answer in a Pew Research Center study from January 2019.
Most Republicans want to see their party move in a more conservative direction. 53% of Democrats want the party to move in a more moderate direction while 40% favor a more liberal direction. https://t.co/hyeSEdiO0l pic.twitter.com/owuLZYP3iv
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) January 27, 2019
It seems 53% of Democrats want their party to move right toward a more moderate position, while only 40% want it to move left. The trend is the same among the Republicans, as 58% want their party to become more conservative and only 38% want it to move left.
Despite a sizeable political divide, most voters on both the right and the left agree that they want their respective parties to become more conservative. This may explain Biden’s surprising strength. Democrats don’t seem to care that he is a white Christian male. They appear to be aiming for the most conservative candidate.
While that is good news for Biden in the primaries, it may spell trouble for him in a head-on fight with President Donald Trump. If Democrats are really aiming for more conservative policies, then why would they not go for the Republican incumbent that has record low unemployment numbers and robust economic growth?
Many of them certainly did in 2016. Without the blue-collar Reagan Democrats in the rustbelt states, Trump would not have won the election. Back then, Trump had no results to show, but they voted for him anyway. With jobs coming back and an improving economy, they are likely to vote for him again and bring new voters with them in their wake. It does not bode well for Biden.
A more interesting point to observe from the Pew study is the fact that the mismatch between what voters want and what the parties deliver has been persisting for at least a decade. During the entire Obama-era, both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly wanted their parties to move to the right. As such, the study documents a decade of voter betrayal by both parties. The politicians didn’t take the hint and in 2016 disgruntled voters, tired of being lied to, went for outsider Trump instead.
One question remains, though. Why do both parties ignore the majority? The answer is identity politics: divide and conquer. In a 2014 study, political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern showed that ordinary voters don’t matter: “economic elites and organized interest groups play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.”
The leftwing media jumped all over this study to make the point that the U.S. is an oligarchy ruled by rich people, but they forgot to take notice of the “organized interest groups” that focus on identity politics. It is more apt to say that America is ruled by minorities, which agrees with the findings of the Pew study.
These numbers may explain why Trump won and may easily win again in 2020. The voters have been begging someone to clean up the corruption. It may be no coincidence we went from President Barack Obama’s slogans “change” and “hope” to Trump’s “drain the swamp.” Voters sense that something is fundamentally wrong with the system. When it comes down to it, Biden is part of the status quo that most voters despise, and therefore his chances of winning might be heading in one direction: down the drain.
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