Democrats’ best hope in beating President Donald Trump in his re-election campaign in 2020 may be a blast from the past rather than a herald of the future.
According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted over the month of July, Joe Biden stands the best chance of beating Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup.
The poll, which queried registered voters across party lines, saw a plurality of Americans — 44% — say they’d choose to vote for Biden over Donald Trump. Only around 37% said they’d vote to re-elect the current president.
But while Biden may be the only Democrat who could beat Trump, he’ll have a difficult time rising through the ranks of his own party, even though he served as vice president under the beloved Barack Obama. Politico’s poll also found that more Democrats would vote for an as yet to be named generic candidate in a battle against Trump, but that only 80% of Democrats would commit to voting for Biden by name.
With forward-looking progressives like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Clinton heir-apparents like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) looking to enter the race, Biden seems like too tired an option. But deeper in the Politico poll is the answer as to why Biden remains popular while other Democrats seem to flounder against the current president: Biden adopts — and even embraces, though perhaps inauthentically — Trump’s message of economic populism, a facet of Trump’s agenda that resonates with a surprising majority of Americans.
The Politico/Morning Consult poll found that Americans generally approve of Trump’s idea to subsidize farmers affected by “retaliatory trade tariffs” (even if those same farmers wouldn’t feel such an impact if Trump weren’t playing a game of hardball with trade partners). The support crosses party lines; nearly half of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans approve of the plan.
Fewer Americans say they approve of Trump’s hard line on trade. Only around 30% say they feel the United States has benefitted less than other countries from its free trade policies. But only 12% say the U.S. has “benefitted more.”
This is bad news for Democrats who are looking to move further left in order to stake out a better position against Republicans in 2020. Trump remains popular, and where Americans want change, they don’t really want too much — just, perhaps, a Biden personality.