Biden campaign strategies played out in full view in the first days of the Democrats’ National Convention. The two-pronged approach involves recruiting wavering Republicans and tighten his grip on the Black vote.
In attempting to make the case that it is okay for Republicans to vote for the Biden/Harris ticket, the Democrat convention planners used former Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich to set the theme. He was followed up by three women who were more or less associated with the unreliable liberal wing of the Republican Party – the establishmentarians. They were former New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman, former New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari and former losing candidate for Governor of California Meg Whitman. The common thread is that they are all “formers – mostly out of range of public memory.
To underscore that theme, the Biden folks relied on former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who served as Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration. This was a bit of a misrepresentation. Powell has not supported Republicans for at least the past 12 years – having endorsed both President Barack Obama (twice) and wannabe President Hillary Clinton. Propping him up as a Republican for Biden would be like calling President Ronald Reagan a Democrat simply because he once was.
There was also an emotional tribute to the late Senator John McCain, who had been a long-time personal friend of the Bidens. This was no surprise. McCain was a maverick Republican – which means he was not a conservative. In addition, he was a member-in-good-standing of the Society of Trump Haters.
It is obvious that the Democrats believe there is a constituency among a percentage of Trump voters that will flip to Biden – and they are betting on a bunch of has-been Republicans to do the selling. They may be placing a losing bet. It is just as likely – maybe even more so – that Republican and conservative deserters have long ago deserted.
It was equally obvious that the Convention program was to lock in the Black vote. The Convention’s emphasis on Black imagery may signal some concern among Democrat strategists. Biden needs to win the hearts of as many Black voters as possible – and motivate them to go to the polls.
There is reason for Biden to be concerned. The campaign expresses their belief that Biden is widely popular among the typical Black voters. That theory gained gravitas after Black voters in South Carolina launched Biden’s rise to the nomination.
Across-the-board, however, Biden is not exceptionally embraced by Black voters. Many remember an earlier Biden who sponsored the much-hated crime bill – and the guy who gave Anita Hill a rough time in the Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. They also recall the guy who bragged how well he worked with the strident racist senators in his party.
Biden and the Democrats are hoping to sell running mate Senator Kamala Harris as potentially the first African American Vice President. A lot of Blacks rejected that political kinship in the primaries when Harris had virtually no traction with Black voters. They also remember that as California Attorney General, Harris used Biden’s crime bill to incarcerate record numbers of young Black males.
In addition, many Blacks trapped in the segregated and impoverished urban ghettoes run by Democrat political machines feel that the Obama/Biden campaign for hope and change did not change much for them. That may be because Obama rose politically as an acolyte of the infamous Chicago machine – one of the most systemically racist in the nation.
The strategy to lock in and motivate the Black vote was evident in the disproportionate number of Black faces that appeared on the screen – especially as the states were casting their votes. If you were to play the Democrats’ favorite game of quota politics, the Black community was dramatically overrepresented.
In pursuing his Republican and Black strategies, Biden is facing an uphill battle. His only chance at inroads among Republicans and Blacks is to trump his own record with a visceral hatred for President Trump – and that has been the other major theme of the campaign and the convention.
Trump won in 2016 because a lot of Republicans looked past his pugnacious personality and voted on issues. Others simply found Trump less objectionable than Clinton. Making voters dislike Trump more than they dislike Biden may be the Democrats’ only winning strategy. They know they cannot win on issues.
So, there ‘tis.