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It is a given in politics that an incumbent has the advantage until things go wrong, at which point the challenger gets an edge. Then why, amidst panic, death and economic shutdown, is Joe Biden looking like the sick man of 2020?
Biden’s predicament is odd considering a key pillar of Donald Trump’s presidency — record low unemployment — is being vaporized. Thursday’s 3.3 million new unemployment claims wiped out nearly half the jobs created in the last three years, and the worst is yet to come.
Millions upon millions of Americans are fearful about their health and that of their loved ones, and the job losses and stock-market plunges are robbing family nest eggs. In addition, much of the media is slanting their coverage to damage Trump, all of which should be giving Biden a huge boost.
Indeed, my initial assumption was that the former veep caught a lucky break in the timing of the coronavirus outbreak. His winning streak in the last primaries gave him a solid lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders just before the shutdown froze the race and spared Biden added focus on his glaring weaknesses.
At the same time, Trump would be on the hot seat and inevitable missteps would magnify the sense of an out-of-control crisis, damaging if not destroying his re-election chances.
So how did the script get flipped, with Trump rising and Biden shrinking? And what can Dems do about it?