Pundits of Right and Left alike would always prefer to stick to their dead clichés rather than bothering an even switching on a TV or a podcast, let alone going anywhere to see things for themselves. In the current U.S. presidential election it is happening again. Anyone who has bothered to actually sit through any of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign speeches over the past week since his nationally televised debate with President Donald Trump should have seen several obvious points immediately.
First, Biden was energetic, confident and punched his speeches home. A lifelong national-level orator and debater, he either did not bother with a teleprompter and was able to deliver his speech casually, complete with adlibs, direct to the audience.
Second, Biden did not make a single embarrassing mistake and he never stuttered or lost his line of thought either. This was not the speech of a senile old fool or drooling puppet, it was the speech of an exceptionally dynamic veteran politician even if he is almost 78 years old.
It was also the speech of a man who knew in the marrow of his bones that in less than one month from now he will be elected President of the United States.
I have covered Presidential debates professionally in this country for nearly 40 years and I know a slam bang knock out when I see one.
Ronald Reagan in 1980-poleaxing the over-prepared micromanaging nerd Jimmy Carter with four simple single-syllable words “There you go again!” was one such moment.
Barack Obama reducing Mitt Romney to gibbering incoherence in 2012 by catching him in a flub, turning his back on him contemptuously and saying direct to the audience, “Did you hear what he just said? Did you hear what he just said?” (only seven single syllable words, repeated for emphasis) was a second..
And in the first presidential debate of this campaign on September 30, Joe Biden delivered another humzinger in only five single-syllable words to Trump, the ace communicator and veteran master of reality TV. “Will you shut up, man!” Within hours, hundreds of thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with that phrase were being sold and distributed throughout the United States.
The most recent polling data we have in the week since the debate makes clear that it shifted the momentum back to Biden, after the Democrats’ utterly bungled convention and their failure to project sufficient reassurance on law and order previously.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published on October 4 tracked Biden’s lead nationally over Trump as almost doubling since the debate. It has shot up from 8 percent to a record high14 percent, topping its previous peak for NBC and the Journal of 11 percent in July, before the Republicans won the Battle of the Conventions.
Biden now leads Trump by a commanding 53 percent to 39 percent according to the poll. If those figures stand a month from now, the result will be a historic landslide that will sweep away longstanding Republican titans of in the Senate even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and Russia-baiting neocon loyalist Lindsey Graham in North Carolina.
One of the pollsters who conducted the survey, Hart Research’s Jeff Horwitt, explained to NBC that the debate clearly damaged Trump’s standing against Biden. He noted that in the polling 49 percent concluded Biden had won with only 24 percent giving it to Trump.
The debate also hit Trump in one of his core constituencies, men over 50. His previous lead in that category which had shrunk before the debate to only one percent was transformed into a whopping 13 percent lead for Biden,.
The FiveThirtyEight.com composite of polls published on Monday pointed in the same direction, though more cautiously.
FiveThirtyEight gave Biden 50.9 percent support compared to only 42.7 percent for Trump. The results marked a small but clear increase in support for Biden of around one percent since the presidential debate. Even in these polls, Biden has reversed the signficant erosion into his lead Trump had been making before. Momentum has shifted back to him
On October 5, Biden showed his political experience and savvy hitting hard at Trump’s record in one of the president’s key bastions – the Cuban-American community in Miami’s Little Havana district.
Biden criticized Trump’s record in failing to protect the 40-million strong Hispanic American community from a disproportionate impact and death toll in the COVID-19 pandemic. He said Hispanic Americans were contracting COVID-19 at three times the national average and that their deaths from the virus were also disproportionately high.
Biden also criticized Trump’s tough isolating policies on Cuba saying they had failed to force the Havana government to become more moderate. He claimed Russian influence in Cuba was increasing and that the Cuban government was now jailing more political prisoners than it had four years ago. The key point is not whether those remarks were accurate but whether they were credible to their targeted audience – and Biden knew how to pitch them.
The Cuban-American community in Florida overwhelmingly supported Trump when he narrowly won the state in the 2016 presidential election. But Trump’s victory was narrow – razor edged. Hillary Clinton campaigned down there but Cuban-Americans loathed her.
Biden does not carry any of Clinton’s baggage and the criticisms he is making of Trump’s Cuban policies are well-crafted and well-targeted. Trump has had four years to deliver results to that constituency. He hasn’t.
If Biden can flip Florida, he will win.
Going after a core support group for his opponent in one of the two most vital battleground states (the other is Texas) and speaking forcefully only a few days before in Michigan are not the acts of a senile old sleepwalker or a mindless puppet.
Joe Biden can win, wants to win and is sticking with impressive discipline and consistency to the strategy and stump speech he believes can deliver victory for him.
You may love Biden or loathe him, but only a blind fool should underestimate him in the political arena. Like his close friend and longtime boss Barack Obama, Biden knows how to win national U.S. elections. Policy planners around the world should note this and make their provisions accordingly.