Joe Biden’s Campaign is in Trouble; G-7 Post-Mortem
Author: Greg Valliere
August 27, 2019
DEMOCRATS WHO HAVE BEEN COUNTING ON JOE BIDEN to defeat Donald Trump are increasingly worried — they have no obvious alternative to turn to as Biden’s polls slip, his gaffes mount, and a potential scandal lurks.
MOMENTUM SHIFT: We’re not huge fans of Monmouth University’s polling, but their stunning new results, reported yesterday, show that Biden’s campaign may be losing altitude. The Monmouth survey of Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters showed Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at 20%, with Biden at 19%. No other candidates scored in the double digits. Other recent polls show Biden is still the front-runner, but his numbers have slipped nationally and in Iowa.
THE GAFFE ISSUE: Biden, who turns 77 in November, is good for a gaffe per day. He gets confused about past events, he sometimes can’t find the right words, and this week he thought he was in Vermont when he actually was in New Hampshire. Nothing egregious, but there’s a pattern.
A NEW PROBLEM: This morning’s Politico reports that Biden’s brother, James, has promoted business ventures that, he told investors, would get support from the former vice president. Family members eager to make money have embarrassed candidates for as long as we can remember, but these Biden allegations will surely become fodder for Donald Trump, Fox News and Democrats running for president.
WHERE WOULD DEMOCRATS TURN? Wherever we go, we meet Democrats who genuinely like Biden and view him as a strong challenger to Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc. But in the same breath they question whether he has the energy and the ruthlessness to confront Trump; even his supporters volunteer that he “has lost a little off his fastball.”
IF THIS PERCEPTION BECOMES WIDESPREAD, it could be fatal to Biden’s campaign, which is largely based on the premise that only he can beat Trump. Polls show there are several other Democrats who could win, including Warren, Sanders and Kamala Harris — but we would consider those three candidates slight underdogs to Trump in the general election; Warren and Sanders in particular would be easy foils for Trump.
THE DEMOCRATS’ NEXT DEBATE, scheduled for mid-September in Houston, will be pivotal — Biden will either excel or continue to fuel concerns; his supporters fear the latter. It’s too early to write off Biden, but the trend is not his friend.
THIS SHIFTING MOMENTUM raises the once-unthinkable scenario that Elizabeth Warren could be the Democrats’ nominee. She has run an outstanding campaign in Iowa, and seemingly has more energy than anyone in the race. We reiterate our theme since late spring — the financial markets have to watch her very carefully.
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G-7 POST-MORTEM: The dizzying Trump performance in France leaves us with one major take-away: there still aren’t any completed trade deals, just vague assurances of progress. We’re encouraged that the stridency on trade seems to have faded, at least temporarily.
BUT THERE’S NO FINAL DEAL with Japan, the EU, France, Canada, Mexico and — of course — China. The devil is in the details, and it will take months for negotiators to iron out those details, especially on U.S.-China talks. Did the Chinese call Trump this past weekend, assuring him that serious negotiations will resume? He says yes, Beijing says no.
ONE THING SEEMS CERTAIN: Last Friday’s ugly stock market sell-off was a wake-up call for global leaders — and Trump’s re-election campaign. We think he badly needs a deal to sign — any deal — so the stakes are high in the next few weeks as the NAFTA replacement treaty nears crucial votes in Congress. We think it will pass, and China talks will get back on track, but the uncertainty did not fully dissipate in France this past weekend.
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