Having now cleared their major opponents from the field (technically Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is still running), former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders are preparing for the trench warfare that could rage until the Democratic convention in July.
Erich Maria Remarque explained vividly in All Quiet on the Western Front that trench warfare is a brutal slow-crawling battle of attrition most of the time, but can explode into a general rout at any moment. The current battlefield includes Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington. On March 10, six more states will be given a chance to vote for their preferred Democrat.
Of these states, Michigan, with 147 delegates is the big opportunity. Following close behind is Washington with 107. A big win for either candidate in one of these states could lead to a breakout, and potentially prohibit the other candidate from catching up. Failure by the candidates to strike a significant blow could lead to a drawn-out state-by-state campaign.
Candidates Can Now Consolidate the Party’s Two Wings
With Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar absent from the field, Joe Biden can consolidate the moderate/establishment voter bloc of the Democratic Party for the first time.
And Bernie Sanders can now test the theory that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s supporters will vote for him after her campaign’s suspension. Sanders’ supporters have angrily suggested Warren split the progressive vote and cost Sanders wins in some states on Super Tuesday. However, polls suggest Warren voters will divide about evenly between Sanders and Biden.
Helpfully for Biden, the next votes will take place before the next debate, which will air on March 15. The former VP will be able to ride his current momentum into Michigan without risking a bad debate performance. That’s good for Biden because he hasn’t exactly overwhelmed audiences in the debates.
Biden scored a lucky break in the last two debates, with all guns focused on either Bloomberg or Sanders. Biden was able to avoid most of the fire. On March 15, though, he’ll have to debate Sanders one-on-one. Biden hasn’t performed well under attack. With no one to hide behind, he could suffer from a constant onslaught from Sanders. Expect the two men to fight for their lives.
As they prepare to square off, waiting in the wings is President Trump.
Trump’s Disapproval Rating Growing
President Trump’s net disapproval rating has widened to 7.7 points. That’s nowhere near his widest readings of over 20%, but after working hard to reach 4.3 points, losing that progress isn’t helpful.
This comes at a time when the president is faced with a crisis he didn’t create. The coronavirus has become a serious concern for many Americans, and Trump has been criticized no matter what he’s done. When he restricted travel from China, Trump was criticized for overdoing it. Now that he’s urging calm, he’s being criticized for “not doing enough.”
Perhaps the worst effect of the virus on Trump’s political chances is the havoc it’s inflicting on the stock market. Americans with investment portfolios unprepared for disaster are becoming increasingly despondent, while those who have taken the time to limit risk are feeling better. Read more about that in E.J. Smith’s series, Coronavirus Infects Stock Market.
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