Just several short months ago Democrats thought that they were in a perfect position to retain the White House in 2016. They had a name brand candidate that was riding sky high approval ratings and not a realistic challenger in sight. Sure, there may have been some lingering worries about shaking off some rust in the general election, but it was nothing that couldn’t be overcome with the enormous war chest Democrats would build while Republicans fought their way through a brutal primary.
And then the wheels began to fall off of the Clinton bandwagon. First came the verbal gaffes (really, you’re broke?). Then came the email scandal, which were learning led to the release of classified material (really, you didn’t want two phones?). Then came the questions about the Clinton Foundation and the quid pro quos with questionable regimes (Russia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria. Really?). And then, worst of all, came the terrible spin, replete with faux indignation and disingenuous explanations, to try and explain it all away.
The result has been plunging public support in her campaign coupled with dramatic dips in her favorability and trustworthiness numbers. Take, for instance, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which found that just 37 percent of all Americans have a positive view of Clinton, versus 48 percent who have a negative view. That’s a 15 point swing in her popularity just since June. In critical swing states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia, polls show her trailing all of the top tier GOP challengers.
Once the Democratic darling that could do no wrong, the plunging polls have led one-time supporters to take a microscope to her campaign. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, who has never won a competitive election, that’s exactly the scenario that she was least prepared for. Michael Brendan Dougherty, writing for The Week, attempts to channel some of the party’s inherent frustration with the Clinton candidacy thus far:
Clinton just seems like a mismatch for the party and the moment. The center-left darling of Wall Street talking up issues of inequality. The former Walmart board memberposing as savior of American jobs. The “Smart Power” leader whose achievement at state was wrecking a nationand turning it over to Sunni terrorists faster than George W. Bush. A champion of women who pretended the leader of the free world was the victim of his intern. The wife of a man who flies on the “Lolita Express” with a porn star that was booked for “massages.” The vanquisher of a Yonkers mayor.
Is this really the best the Democrats can do? Yes, and that should worry them.
But with Hillary Clinton suffering a ‘death by a thousand cuts,’ Democrats are convincing themselves that the answer to that question is ‘no.’ Enter, Joe Biden.
The 72-year-old longtime senator from Delaware certainly knows the ropes. If he jumps in the race it would be the third time he’s sought the presidency, a position his friends say has been his ultimate dream. That dream, it seems, is beginning to look more and more like it could be a reality.
Biden must sense it too. The New York Times reported over the weekend that Biden is talking to friends, family and donors about jumping into the race.
Part of the impetus it seems is that his son Beau, who died in May from brain cancer at just 46, used some of his last words to encourage his father to run. Likewise, ABC News reported on Sunday that “in camp Biden, there are discussions about fundraising and launching a political action committee.”
“Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed,” Maureen Dowd reports for the Times. “But he had a missions: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
But, as Edward Morrissey writes for The Week, the Biden-mania is less about the political viability of Biden, than it is about the utter cratering of Hillary Clinton.
At 72, Biden represents the face of the Washington establishment more than any other potential candidate on either side of the race — and that includes Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Biden first came to Capitol Hill in 1973 as a senator from Delaware, and stayed put for 35 years, until he became vice president. In a political environment where anti-establishment populism has challenged the leadership of both parties, Biden appears uniquely disqualified from capitalizing on the animating emotional engagement of the electorate. Even the Clintons, who have been in Washington for 22 years, look like newcomers in comparison. . .
The idea of Biden 2016 makes sense in only one way: It’s just about Democratic desperation in the face of Clinton’s faltering.
If Joe Biden is the only answer to Clinton’s stumbles then Democrats’ aren’t just desperate, their chances appear dire.