Members Only | October 25, 2019 | Reading Time: 2 minutes

QT: Why is Biden polling so well?

The worse Trump gets, the better Biden will get. Maybe.

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I have a pet theory about Joe Biden I want to share. It builds on the conventional wisdom, which is that a former vice president is going to get the lion’s share of the attention, and that Democrats of color are being shrewd in siding with him early as the best way of defeating an authoritarian president bent on whitening up America.

My pet theory is this: Biden’s popularity among Democrats in inversely proportional to Donald Trump’s unpopularity in the general electorate. And indeed, no matter how many gaffes old Joe produces, his standing in the polls hasn’t diminished significantly. That might be because the incumbent is terrible, most Americans know it, and they are searching for an alternative, the most obvious of which is a former vice president.

I like this theory because it’s simple and elegant. Simplistic? Perhaps. I suppose we’ll find out, as Trump continues to lie, telling anyone who will listen that the Democrats, including Biden, undermined his 2016 campaign while in cahoots with Ukrainian saboteurs. He wants everyone to believe the opposite of what’s true, which is that his campaign worked with Russian saboteurs to kneecap Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

It could be that the more Trump lies about Biden, the more Biden’s standing will rise. As I said, it could be. I don’t know. My pet theory is going to be tested over time.

—John Stoehr


  • Today’s edition of the Editorial Board: Tulsi Gabbard sure acts like a spoiler.

  • Ronald Klain says Clarence Thomas’ rumored retirement could supercharge 2020.

  • Jennifer Rie explains why monopolies are illegal. It’s about more than size.

  • Akintunde Ahmad analyzes how right-wing media props up a weak president.

  • Karl Evers-Hillstrom says PACs have spent $20 million on Trump properties.

  • Catie Edmonson and Emily Cochrane report on nervous-nellies in the Senate.

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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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