Krystal Ball issues warning to Biden supporters

Opinion by: Krystal Ball

As Twitter amuses itself with horrified reactions to Pete's cringiest whitest dance of all time and wealthy donors panic over the fact that not every candidate in the Democratic primary is willing to just parrot their corporatist talking points, a very real and very plausible possibility is being completely overlooked. Now I know you all don't want to hear this and I don't really want to say it, but what if Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Klobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE actually wins?

I mean let's think about Biden's campaign so far. Well let's start with the fact that he mostly doesn't actually campaign preferring instead to fly to donor events where he says things like "nothing will fundamentally change." When he does show up to face actual voters things like this routinely happen.

That last one would have been fine except of course for the fact that he was in New Hampshire and not Vermont. Then there are his debate performances, which have generally gone like this.

He's embraced segregationists, fossil fuel executives and Republican talking points. He comes across as loveably befuddled at best, angrily entitled at worst. He's staked his entire campaign on being bff's with Obama yet no one in Obamaland has backed him up, and yet through it all, his lock on the top primary spot has barely slipped.

We've got some new polls out that show him continuing to hold onto that top spot. The CBS news battleground tracker we talked to you about yesterday has him 1st in 3 out of 4 of the early states. Morning Consult's primary tracker has him holding steady at between 30 and 33% since June. A new South Carolina poll continues to show him with a rock solid hold on the state and, of course, overwhelming support among African Americans.

His fellow candidates have basically given up on attacking him. Remember in the early days how Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats' Obama-to-Sanders shift on charter schooling This week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Juan Williams: Black votes matter MORE made a big thing and sent Biden a letter about his embrace of segregationists? Kamala of course had one of the most memorable debate moments of the cycle with her t-shirt ready "that little girl was me" attack line, which of course ultimately only backfired on her campaign. But these days, everyone's just kind of hanging around waiting for the inevitable moment of Joe's long awaited implosion. What if it never comes?

After all, after those first 4 early states where Biden is decently positioned comes Super Tuesday when 16 jurisdictions hold their primaries. Included in those primaries are a whole lot of southern states where Biden is very strong. North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia, Alabama, and Oklahoma will all go on Super Tuesday. Not to mention Texas where Biden right now is averaging around a 10 point lead.

Now on the other hand, actual enthusiasm for his campaign is at literal zero. At least Pete's supporters can get energized enough to collectively humiliate themselves with the lamest dance of all time. Biden's supporters will theoretically show up to vote for him. But that's literally it. They don't exist online. At the big Iowa Liberty and Justice event his sections were basically boarded up. And to the extent that he has rallies they are sleepy affairs with as many curiosity seekers as legit supporters. I popped over to his campaign merch hub and I would love to know how many cup o Joe mugs he's sold. I bet it's well into the dozens. It's really hard to imagine that a campaign with so little visible energy could possibly win but here we are. Imagining it.

Now here's the good news, I do think it is possible that Biden could beat Trump. I don't think he's the strongest candidate by any means but he's not the worst either. At least he doesn't come off as a condescending elitist who looks down his nose at middle America. When he talks about the grief that has shaped his life it is genuinely moving. And at the same time, elections in Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana have shown that regardless of who the Democratic nominee is there is a lot of Democratic energy behind beating Trump so I'd be lying if I said he didn't have a shot. Even as I believe that Trump will completely own him in every debate and that his family's soft corruption allows Trump to just roll out the same playbook he used successfully against HRC.

But honestly, what really scares me isn't whether or not Biden can beat Trump. It's what he will do if he actually becomes president. Just look around the world. The globe is melting down in backlash to the neoliberal consensus of which Biden was a key architect and continues to be a firm believer. Look to our own nation where we've seen wave election after wave election as a deep roiling anger rocks the public and rightfully so. I mean, you all know the litany of sins. The banking deregulation, the bad trade deals, the gutting of everything that makes our communities whole and our futures worth living. Does anyone believe that Joe Biden offers an answer to any of that? Of course not. It's absurd on its face. And what do you think comes next? What do you think comes after 4 more years of incrementalism and continued grinding down of the multi-racial class and continued fattening of the ruling class?

I know it doesn't feel like it but Democrats got lucky with Trump. They got lucky that he's too short-sighted to take an incremental loss to solidify long term gains. That he deferred to Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Trump doubles down on Neil Cavuto attacks: 'Will he get the same treatment as' Shep Smith? Trump lashes out at Fox News coverage: 'I won every one of my debates' MORE and staffed his administration with the same old establishment Republican tools and is an easily distracted and completely incompetent manager who knew nothing about how to actually govern. Liberals lacking imagination believe it couldn't possibly be worse than Trump. They're fooling themselves.

FDR famously wrote during the Great Depression that in order to save the republic it was necessary to be fairly radical for a generation. His New Deal legislation delivered on that vision and helped to build the American middle class. If we offer incrementalism at a moment requiring radicalism, I fear we will long for the Trump era.