Back in 2008, about a month before the election, my wife and I found ourselves eating dinner in a restaurant in Point Pleasant, NJ. In the next booth were two older couples, white Republican types (you can spot them every time) who were talking about the election.
They all liked McCain and wanted him to win. But they also voiced serious reservations about Sarah Palin, and they couldn’t understand why someone like John McCain would put her on the ticket just below him.
I listened to this conversation for a couple of minutes and then said to my wife, “Obama’s going to win.” Why was I such a clairvoyant? Because the attitudes I was hearing from the next booth told me that these four people might not bother to show up and vote. And everyone who was voting for Obama was going to show up.
I see the same thing happening right now with Joe. Granted, it’s still early in the campaign. Granted, we don’t yet know who will be at the top of the ticket for the GOP. Granted the approval polls for Joe are pretty bad, but the approval polls for Trump are even worse.
On the other hand, even though the polls for Kamala only show a four-point negative gap, which is much better than the polls for either Trump or Joe, the lack of support for Kamala could be used by the GOP for a very effective whispering campaign.
And what I mean by ‘whispering’ is that it’s not a narrative which would ever appear publicly in voice ads or in print. But it will be rolled out in ways that gets the message across. And the message is simply this: there’s a better chance that Kamala will wind up behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office before Joe’s term beginning in 2025 is up.
This is what the talk about Joe’s age is really all about. You can’t predict an individual’s death from natural causes out loud because it’s just not polite. It’s kind of ghoulish if you know what I mean. But anyone who votes for Joe in 2024 knows that to finish his term he would have to live to be 87 years old. How many people do you know who are 87 years old?
Okay. Warren Buffet is 92. He still eats like a young kid, often starting the day with a packet of Oreos and a full-calorie Coke. But Warren’s the exception, the rare exception. He’s certainly not the rule. And even though Joe has a better chance of making it to 87 than I do because joe’s two years older than me, I wouldn’t want to take the short odds of either he or me being around for the inauguration of whomever is inaugurated President in 2029.
Plus, unless you’re Donald Trump, serving as President and CEO of the world’s largest not-for-profit corporation isn’t some kind of part-time gig. It’s a real grind every day and if you’re lucky, you don’t have to confront a serious crisis like Covid-19, but you never know.
Whatever else happens, the Democrats better figure out a way to showcase Kamala next year not just as Joe’s running-mate, but as someone who is capable of becoming the President without actually winning a Presidential vote. Personally speaking, I have the highest regard for Kamala because, if nothing else, she seems to know how to surround herself and listen to capable individuals who can help her do the right thing and stay on track.
But I also know that the outcome of our national elections increasingly turns on how a very small percentage of eligible voters decide to vote in a very small percentage of states. So, Joe beat Trump in 2020 by some 7 million votes, but he won the three must-win states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – by a total of 200,000 votes, or 1.3% of the total votes cast in those states.
Can the GOP come up with a quiet, whispering campaign which can swing things their way in those states, particularly if a few voters from our side decide to stay home?
We’ll see, won’t we? We’ll see.