Assault on America, Day 588: If most likable candidate always wins, it’s Trump in a landslide
Grampa Joe Biden becomes significantly less appealing when his faculties are in question Forget issues and platforms, the most likable candidate always wins. Political scientists, pundits and “normal” people are always looking for explanations as to why things happen in elections. Academics spend decades studying voter and human behavior to discover the “magic” formula of their craft. In the process they consult psychologists, scientists, mathematicians, statisticians and historians seeking further insight into their field of study. Is all of it necessary? When it comes to forecasting who will prevail in any particular presidential election year, at least since Watergate, there’s an undeniable trend at play: voters opt for the most relatable and likeable alternative. Simple, huh? Imagine all the bespectacled numbers crunching nerds sighing and crying because their research is obsolete now. Of course, many of them are liberals so they comfort themselves with the notion that Democrat nominee-to-be Grampa Joe Biden is widely viewed as the better guy in this year’s presidential contest. Reputations are forged over the course of decades and even the staunchest Trump supporter would concede the Democrat contender is seen as approachable and friendly this time around. But there are reasons to believe Grampa Joe’s about to become much less likable in the minds of the public. First and foremost, there’s the obvious (to everyone but himself and Democrats dying to get rid of Trump) slip in his mental faculties. Even worse, unlike Trump, the man refuses to get it tested to prove everyone wrong. That’s bad. Liz Peek wrote at The Hill last month, “It’s important for voters to know why Biden is being tested, by whom and why. “After all, it is not just Trump supporters who have questioned Joe Biden’s ability to navigate the rigors of the campaign trail, and the presidency. His competitors during the primary battle raised concerns, as have other Democrats and pundits on the Left. “It was Democratic contender Julian Castro who, during a testy and memorable debate moment, asked Biden whether he had already forgotten what he said two minutes earlier about health care. As one columnist wrote at the time about Castro’s insinuation that Biden’s memory was failing, ‘The elephant in the room has been addressed.’” More like the elephant in the room was released. Castro might’ve been the one to actually say something about what was evident to anyone who follows politics, but everyone else in America was already wondering why Biden couldn’t remember his own texting address or mentioned “record players” and frequently looks like he’s poised to launch into another diatribe about racism and “this isn’t who we are.” The funny thing is the average schlep recognizes that Biden is two cards short of a full deck but no one dares question why his hand always comes up short. Accordingly, Democrats treat Biden like he’s made of glass or his temperament is flimsy as toilet paper, the babbling old idiot at the Thanksgiving dinner table who no one wants to sit by yet still receives an invitation because of family tradition. Grampa Joe and fellow liberals aren’t the least bit afraid of him taking a cognitive test -- it’s the results that could prove election-destroying. The candidate still rates high for his ability to tell stories from sixty years ago, it’s what he had for lunch last week that doesn’t get saved by his worn-out and fried brain processor. Biden’s likability would probably be destroyed by a poor score on such an examination…. And history proves that the most congenial candidate always (okay, almost always) wins. Ronald Reagan won in 1980 because of his glass half-full orientation and persistent positive outlook in proclaiming that America’s best days were still ahead of it. Most countrymen and women would agree Jimmy Carter was a moral, good man and cared about the nation, yet his dour disposition, pessimistic “malaise speech” negativity and proven incompetence over his one term doomed him. It was like voters saying en masse, “Go back to Plains (GA), Jimmy, and take up peanut farming again.” When Reagan ran for reelection in 1984, he was pitted against another likeable liberal in Walter “Fritz” Mondale, but there was no way the Minnesotan could match The Gipper’s personal appeal. “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience,” Reagan quipped during a debate. The election was over right then. 1988 was another example of a candidate possessing a clear advantage in the likability category. Genial George H.W. Bush may not have come across as the most charismatic man in the world, but his kindly grandfatherly demeanor was vastly superior to the manic-depressive downer that was Democrat Michael Dukakis. When rumors surfaced that the liberal nominee was mentally challenged, his poll numbers began to irretrievably sink. It’s a fact. Some suggest 2020 will be a repeat of the final election in the 80’s. We’ll see. Conservatives cringed in 1992 when the youthful, saxophone playing, red bulbous nose good ‘ol boy Bill Clinton ran for the Democrats. The notorious playboy’s shortcomings were overlooked when Big Bubba straight-face answered questions about the type of underwear he preferred and uttered nonsensical crapola like “I feel your pain” to citizens at a public event. The nation had tired of George H.W. Bush’s wishy-washiness (Read my lips…no new taxes?) and the much fresher and likable goofball from Arkansas prevailed at election time. Clinton won reelection in 1996 when pitted against the last of the World War II generation Republicans, Bob Dole. Establishment to the core, Dole was a generally well-regarded Kansan who’d served nobly in both the army and in Congress, but he was also viewed as a crusty old fart who was well past his prime. Maybe if Dole’s post-retirement commercials (including one for the “little blue pill”) had come out prior to his defeat, the results would’ve been different. As it was, the popular Bubba Bill won convincingly. Perhaps if voters had known about Clinton’s extra-presidential Oval Office library activities with Monica Lewinsky during the election year, his “good guy” persona would’ve suffered. Such is history. With impeachment still on the minds of Americans, the 2000 election featured a match-up of presidential son George W. Bush versus Clinton veep Al Gore, a contest in which the media desperately tried painting the Texas governor as a draft-dodging lifelong party-boy lightweight, privileged part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team and greedy oil executive. The problem was that Gore was a stiff, wooden, jerk of a politician who was so unlikable that even the people in his native state couldn’t stand him. Bush wasn’t exactly the most articulate of candidates but he did come across as a nice guy and a devoted family man. The choice wasn’t difficult, though Bush’s winning margin wasn’t large either. Four years later Bush was somewhat weighed-down by the ongoing Iraq War while simultaneously facing pushback from members of his own party for his eagerness to expand the welfare state through new entitlements like Medicare Part D and the truly awful Teddy Kennedy inspired “No Child Left Behind” Act. But fortunately, Democrats elevated the eminently odious Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, and Bush looked like a choir boy in comparison. Kerry’s snobby arrogance and hypocritical flip-flopping doomed him. That’s the best they could come up with? 2008 saw the liberal party retake the clear lead in the likability category. Barack Obama burst on the national scene at John Kerry’s nominating convention and media talkers immediately went nuts paving the way for his eventual presidential candidacy. Meanwhile, Republicans couldn’t agree on a post G.W. Bush direction and successor and settled for the next-in-line political lifer John McCain. McCain was a respected war hero but he wasn’t the type of guy you’d want to hang out with -- unless you like sarcastic critiques. The “cool” Obama bested him in the minds of Americans. Besides, the “Hope and Change” mantra sounded so awesome, didn’t it? In 2012, much of the luster had worn off Obama’s blatantly false sanguinity and his endless mission to divide Americans by race was taking its toll. The Benghazi tragedy/farce occurred less than three months before Election Day, but the hapless and dreadful GOP nominee that year failed to capitalize. When positioned alongside the ideologically bankrupt stuffed-shirt Mitt Romney, Obama was still clearly the more appealing one to personality conscious voters. 2016 supposedly matched two hopelessly (according to the polls) unpopular candidates, the eternally witchy -- and crooked -- Hillary Clinton and the always controversial Donald J. Trump. While everyone knew what Hillary was really like -- phony, nasty, lying, distorting, rules-bending, corrupt, heinous… sometimes you just run out of adjectives -- Trump became a beloved character to those Americans who felt the Washington establishment needed a good punch in the nose. Nobody liked Hillary -- just ask her Secret Service detail. And her husband! Trump, on the other hand, was loved by his backers. Again, on balance, Trump was the likable one. So the theory holds. This year the establishment media will go overboard in playing up Joe Biden’s nature. They’ll try to make the “likability” showdown into an Election Day rout. It won’t work. Joe Biden’s basement campaign will turn against him, because hiding away isn’t likable Even the most ardent of Joe Biden’s supporters would likely admit he’s well passed his “fresh by” date and should either be consumed, frozen or tossed out. And the most maddening thing to his handlers is there’s no way to change the impressions short of proving his critics wrong by passing a cognitive test or by way of a vigorous and pervasive presence on the campaign trail. For his part, Biden appears to be running a presidential campaign circa 1788. In the age of all-politics-all-the-time, it’s almost inconceivable to remember a historic age when candidates didn’t hit the trial to tout… themselves. It’s true: “Presidential candidates initially did not travel to campaign: they were called to be the nominees but it was considered inappropriate to ask voters directly to vote for them. Thus it was up to local supporters to organize campaign events and speak on their behalf. Parades, rallies, and stump speeches by surrogates were followed on Election Day by voter drives in taverns and on the streets.” The Democrat nominee-to-be isn’t even honoring the non-campaigning tradition; it’s more like Biden is hiding behind the shrinking specter of COVID-19 and hoping to “run out the clock” before most people realize they don’t have to completely shutter their lives to remain vertical. It’s a fact Americans always have the option of voting via absentee ballot if they’re motivated enough to request a ballot under the circumstances. The decrepit coward Joe Biden isn’t winning people over by pretending he’s George Washington or Thomas Jefferson and trusting others to campaign for him. TV commercials won’t give voters a better impression of him either. And naming the eminently disagreeable rhymes-with-rich Kamala Harris as his running mate certainly won’t reflect well on him. If he’s so “likable,” Grampa Joe will come out from his basement and prove he’s up to it. If not, the “likability” factor again goes to Trump. And you know who wins in that case. Polls seem to indicate the 2020 race is tightening ahead of the party conventions Joe Biden isn’t the sharpest stick in the stack but even he must realize things are starting to go wrong for him. Most recent polls reveal a decided uptick in Republican support. Byron York wrote at The Washington Examiner, “Trump has, in resuming the [COVID-19] sessions, shown a lot more discipline than he did in the first briefings months ago, in which he talked and talked and talked -- the briefings went on for well over an hour -- and ended up saying something that invited negative coverage. Lately, he has shortened them considerably and stayed more on-message. And he has taken questions. “Even though the press always has complaints, Trump has been an extraordinarily accessible president. Sometimes he is so accessible that aides wish he would stop talking for a while. But the president puts himself in front of aggressive reporters and takes their questions. Beyond many, many briefings and short interactions, just look at his recent long interviews with Fox News Sunday and Axios. Trump's accessibility creates a striking contrast with Biden, who has ducked any truly adversarial interviews.” Trump’s enemies don’t like admitting it, but they admire the fact he never shies away from questions. The media squawked when he shut down the White House press room after Sarah Sanders left, but now that Kayleigh McEnany’s taken over, they probably harken for the days when they didn’t have to look stupid on a daily basis, being rhetorically beat-down by an eye-pleasing 32-year-old who’s smarter than all of them combined. But it all makes Trump more likable, doesn’t it? If it can be shown the most likable presidential candidate always wins, the battle for the White House in 2020 could come down to whether President Trump can keep calm and composed under persistent pestering by the media and whether Joe Biden risks being humiliated by actually campaigning in person. Smart money is on Trump to prevail.
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