Codependents Biden and Trump; Indispensable Kamala Harris

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Last week I wrote of some of the weaknesses of each of the two major parties’ probable presidential nominees, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.  Indeed, each candidate’s weaknesses are so great he needs the other as a foil to bolster his own chances of winning—or winning back—the White House.  And both candidates need Kamala Harris to remain Biden’s vice-presidential running mate.

Biden’s political weaknesses are starkly outlined in new polls reported on the Journal Editorial Report, the Wall Street Journal’s weekly television program.  Polls on a Biden-Trump rematch show Trump ahead of Biden, either 49-47 (Fox News Poll), 47-45 (Wall Street Journal Poll), or 48-43 (New York Times/Siena Poll).  The first two polls actually report a statistical dead heat, but the third poll’s numbers may be outside the margin of error.  All three polls are bad news—for both Biden and Trump.

Biden’s poor polling numbers reflect public dissatisfaction with the overall direction of the country, as well as with Biden’s alleged (mis)handling of various policy issues.  For example, the RealClearPolitics average of polls reports that 67.1% of the public believes the country is on the “wrong track.”  Only 23.1% believe America is headed in the “right direction.  On specific issues, according to Fox News polls:

  • 58% of those polled say Biden’s policies to “help the working class” are failing, while only 38% say they’re succeeding;
  • 73% say the state of the economy is fair or poor; only 26% say its good or excellent;
  • 61% say Biden’s overall handling of the economy are failing; 36% say he’s succeeding;
  • 57% say they have less money in their pockets, while only 14% say they’ve prospered;
  • 63% say Biden’s policies are making America less safe; only 32% believe he’s making America more safe;
  • 71% say Biden has failed to improve border safety while only 24% say he’s succeeded.

Biden’s poor numbers on economic and immigration policies are especially ominous since the public considers them the most important issues—37% say the economy and 21% say immigration.  Of the one policy area of which the public overwhelmingly approves Biden’s handling—abortion–only 10% consider it the most important.  In any other election year, analysts would say these numbers doom Biden’s re-election efforts to failure.

And that’s why Biden and Trump truly need each other.  Any other Republican prospective presidential nominee would probably be outpolling Biden by double digits, as Nikki Haley, Trump’s vanquished foe in the GOP primary nomination battle, was doing.  In fact, no other president whose perceived handling of the economy was as unpopular as Biden’s has ever been re-elected.  It’s probably Trump’s political baggage—the impeachments, the indictments, the civil judgments, etc.—which are suppressing his own numbers and allowing Biden to remain within striking distance of victory this fall, while Biden’s unpopular record makes it possible and plausible that even Trump, for all his baggage, could deprive him of a second term.  

Paradoxically, the almost certain retention of Kamala Harris as Biden’s running mate strengthens both Trump and Biden.  She’s one of the few prominent political leaders viewed less favorably than either Trump or Biden.  Actuarial tables show Biden should be able to outlive a second presidential term by at least a few years.  Nonetheless, Trump should be able to get political mileage by reminding voters that a vote to re-elect Presidential Biden would also be a vote for a prospective President Harris should Biden—God forbid—be unable to complete a second term in office.

Harris’s record of frivolity, devoid as it is of any genuine accomplishments, shows that Biden should never have made her his vice presidential running mate in 2020.  If he needed to run with a woman of color he should have selected the far more accomplished Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Asian American helicopter pilot and war hero who lost both legs in combat in Iraq.  

But Biden is nonetheless stuck with Harris.  Recent polling reported by the Journal Editorial Report indicates that over half of American Hispanics and up to a quarter of Blacks are at least considering voting for Trump.  To replace Harris with anyone else might well offend and alienate Blacks—especially Black women—who’ve been his staunchest supporters and whom he simply can’t afford to lose.  

It’s ironic:  The presidential election of 2024 will feature a rematch which 74% of the American people say they don’t want, but that ‘s the situation we’ve created in our primaries.  Each party will nominate a presidential candidate too weak to gain an overwhelming advantage over the other, and Kamala Harris will preserve this situation by simultaneously giving Trump another issue with which to berate Biden while propping up Biden as well.  Such is the current state of our presidential politics.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.