Democrats Naively Believe Anti-Trump Sentiment Alone Can Secure Victory—Spoiler Alert: It Can't!

By Alan Hume | Sunday, 07 April 2024 11:10 PM
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The Democratic Party appears to have misplaced a fundamental political skill: soliciting votes from those who are not already committed supporters.

This is a rudimentary aspect of politics, yet President Joe Biden seems to struggle with it. If he aspires to secure victory, he must rectify this.

While the concept of a "Nikki Haley Republican" may be nebulous, the former South Carolina governor's performance against Donald Trump in the Republican primaries is noteworthy. Haley triumphed over Trump in the Vermont and DC primaries, secured approximately 40% of the votes in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and concluded her campaign with over 20% of the votes in the races she participated in.

Although Haley's support was insufficient to defeat Trump in a Republican primary, it would be more than adequate for Biden to triumph over Trump in a general election. The proportion of disenchanted Republicans unwilling to vote for Trump is not 40% or even 20%. However, it doesn't need to be. A fraction of that would suffice for Biden, provided he makes an effort to secure those votes.

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Merely shifting a few percentage points of unenthusiastic Republicans from Trump's column to his own could secure Biden virtually every swing state. Regardless of Pennsylvania or Michigan, a slight shift of just over 5% could secure a Democratic victory, considering Trump only won 52% of the vote in 2020.

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The fact that Biden didn't have to extend much effort to win in 2020 doesn't imply he can disregard winnable Republican moderates in 2024. Elections are as unique as dinner parties or traffic jams; no two are identical. There is a significant number of voters dissatisfied with the two options presented to them.

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When asked what she would say to such voters, Hillary Clinton, the only politician in world history incompetent enough to lose an election to Donald Trump, responded: "Get over yourselves." This may not have been the most tactful response.

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This dismissive attitude was unbecoming of a political veteran like Mrs. Clinton, and unfortunately, the Biden campaign seems to echo this sentiment. The most Biden has offered to those Haley voters is: "There is a place for them in my campaign." In other words, he has graciously agreed to accept their votes should they be offered.

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One of his campaign ads stated: "If you voted for Nikki Haley, Donald Trump doesn't want your vote." Even if this were true, it leaves the question unanswered: Why should these Republicans vote for Biden?

The Democrats appear to believe that Trump will do their job for them, that his grotesque and contemptible persona will absolve the incumbent president from making any positive case for himself to Republicans. This is partly the bitter fruit of the highly moralized politics of the Democratic Party: "the right side of history" and all that sanctimonious rhetoric.

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Biden's partisan immobility is also the result of his peculiar sense of political positioning as a supposed centrist who is, in reality, almost entirely swayed by the shifting winds of internal Democratic politics, with very little responsiveness to the overall direction or center of the political mainstream.

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This home-crowd fixation is how Biden has managed to misstep on, for instance, the issue of Israel and Hamas. The 2024 election will not be decided by the members of Queers for Palestine. However, it might be decided by Jewish voters in the suburbs of Philadelphia or Atlanta, or moderate Republicans who are much more pro-Israel than left-wing Democrats.

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It might also be decided by sensible Republicans and independents who don't want to endorse Trump but who also don't believe that caring about the chaos at the border, persistent inflation, or race-neutral college admissions makes them morally equivalent to Klansmen.

Reaching out to these voters wouldn't require much effort. A simple gesture, such as distancing from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ed Markey, could suffice.

During his first term in office, Bill Clinton famously lamented that he was serving out the third term of the Eisenhower administration, constrained by the conservatism of the time. However, the bipartisan collaboration that shaped Clinton's first term was the reason he had a second term. Coalition-building works.

Unlike President Clinton, President Biden is either unwilling or unable to break ranks with his party on any significant issue and accommodate the other party, even on one of those substantial issues where there is a great deal of consensus, such as illegal immigration.

This would be particularly easy to do in 2024 because the Republican nominee himself is at odds with long-standing Republican beliefs toward spending, business regulation, and foreign policy. Some Republicans still care about these issues and dread the chaos and depravity of Trump and his allies.

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