It is official. As Jed Babbin predicted, the Biden bump worked in reverse. Both Gallup and Rasmussen report that since choosing his running-mate a few days ago, Obama has gone from two points up in the polls to a point down. Here are the top ten reasons for this unusual scenario.
10. Biden is a Senator. It is rare for Senators to win the Presidency, because the public sees them, rightly, as abstract activists throwing money at problems rather than as executive managers of bureaucracies. Governors, especially of larger states, are seen as bringing more relevant experience to the position. The defeats of Kerry in 2004, Dole in 1996 and McGovern in 1972 remind us of this point, as do the victories of Bill Clinton in 1992, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Obama and McCain are both Senators, and it is in their interest to pick Governors for the veep slot. The last ticket to win with two Senators was Kennedy-Johnson in 1960, an awful long time ago.
9. He is from the Northeast. This is not to say that the Republicans can never win Delaware, but for the most part the region belongs to the Democrats without prodding. On the other hand, the rest of the country has a visceral resistance to candidates from there, unless they have a redeeming humility. ‘Humble’ and ‘Biden’ never appear in the same sentence without ‘not’ to tie the knot.
8. He is boring. There is something exciting about Obama’s presence. Whether it is charisma, novelty or choreography is open to debate. Whatever this quality is, tangible or intangible, this much is clear: Biden does not have any. Obama can electrify a room on his own, without Biden trying to add any fossil fuel. Adding boredom is not the preferred method of “balancing” a ticket that seeks to generate excitement.
7. He is old. Nothing wrong with a few rings around the trunk of the oak, but not when the theme is ‘Time to plant saplings’. Obama was projecting an image of youthful energy at a time in history when people are considering that we may be in a rut. The buzz of the dynamic can be drowned out quickly by the hiss of the static. This election did not need another wrinkly white-haired guy for Ms. Hilton to mock.
6. He is a foreign policy boob. This arena of specialization, presumed to be deficient at the head of the ticket, could have been rounded out by a man who had scored well in past predictions or negotiations. Biden has done neither. For awhile his carping about Iraq made him look smart. Until the situation went from bad to good and he was the last to notice.
5. He is another failed candidate. Why take a loser if you want to be seen as a winner? The only time a primary winner should pick one of his opponents is when that person put up numbers that made him sweat. Clinton and Edwards fit that category, but not Biden, with his solid one to two percent of the primary vote.
4. He previously attacked Obama viciously. Biden made it clear in his campaign that he thought Obama had potential… after a couple of more decades. The caustic sound-bites he put out are being sounded everywhere and can only continue to bite Obama.
3. He previously praised Obama patronizingly. Before the primary campaign ever heated up, Biden had told an interviewer that Obama was the first “clean” black candidate to come down the road. Whatever might be encoded in that statement, this much is clear. He was condescending to a beginner. As bad as it is that he put Obama down in the primary, it is more devastating that he talked down to him earlier.
2. He has been in politics forever. The only way Obama’s inexperience can be converted into a plus is by deriding the politics-as-usual inside-the-Beltway lifers in D.C. Biden is essentially a clone of McCain, just with a D after his name. How hard can Obama hit his opponent for representing the entrenched insider elite when his partner has a similar record.
1. He was made a ridiculous figure in 1984. Democrats inside the party hierarchy tend to be tone-deaf to how laughable some of their golden oldies are in the public perception. People like Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are seen as pathetic by the country-at-large. Joe Biden was publicly humiliated in 1984 for plagiarizing his speeches, and every time he takes a stand on something, editorial cartoonists have saying some famous quote like “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” He will never be a star in the public eye again, not in that one lifetime.