Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Hard as it is to believe, this is the 500th posting of the Kahntensions blog since its debut in December 2011. Thank you to the New Jersey Jewish News for hosting it, to its editor who never saw a word before it was posted, and to the readers who have tolerated it. As was said at its inception: Launching a blog is both daunting and ridiculous, not that you should assume that would ever inhibit Kahntentions. So let us continue….
Suddenly the political world beginning with the New York Times is discussing whether Joe Biden should really enter the sweepstakes for the Democratic Party nomination for President. Leaving aside the extremely touching story about his conversation with his son Beau as he was dying of brain cancer urging his father to run, the possibility of his running has all the political pundits running around scratching their heads. With the first Republican ten person debate scheduled for Thursday evening, at least the Dems have a news story to show the country that they are still kicking.
In perusing the politicos and their instant reaction about why Biden should even make a run against Hillary, the presumptive nominee, there is universal agreement as to why it is foolish and only one reason why Biden should enter the race. Hillary has raised in excess of $68 million so far; she has a national and statewide staff in place; polls show that 80% of likely Democratic primary voters are supporting her; Hillary has rounded up most of the major endorsements; she will garner heavy support from minority voters; Democrats want a woman in the White House; and women are 55-60% of the electorate. So why should Biden run?
According to the political analysts Biden’s only rationale to run is as the fallback candidate who could emerge if Hillary stumbles of messes up in Congress’ Benghazi hearings this fall; or if she has another medical issue; or if negatives continue to rise; or she stumbles in Iowa or New Hampshire against Bernie Sanders.
It seems, however, that there is one conclusion that has not yet been measured and only presumed, because Hillary has no real challenger. The pundits argue that she is widely supported by Democratic primary voters; but that is not based on there actually being a winning alternative. Hillary has many negatives which are even articulated by many of those who say they will vote for her. These Democrats have no choice. The polls to watch which no doubt are being launched now and which Biden will need to consider is not whether he wants to be the candidate who will get the nomination. Rather if he were a candidate how strong would her polling be against Biden? This is the scenario not if she stumbles; or whether the Democratic voters’ distrust or dislike of Hillary; or whether she can run a winning campaign; rather how strong and deep is her support if there is a genuine alternative and not O’Malley, Webb, or Sanders? The belief here is that there is a much larger group of reluctant Hillary supporters than the pollsters ever could have accounted.