Biden is the Democrats' 'only hope' to defeat Trump

Biden is the Democrats' 'only hope' to defeat Trump
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Star Wars fans of a certain age remember the opening scenes of the very first movie in the franchise, “Episode IV: A New Hope.” Facing a desperate situation, against a better-financed and more ruthless opposition, Princess Leia Organa makes a desperate plea: “This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

In a galaxy much closer to home, Democrats are facing similar prospects in the race to defeat Donald Trump in November. In this world, however, it’s becoming more and more clear that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida MORE will be playing the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in 2020.

In the latest Morning Consult poll conducted Dec. 30 through Jan. 5, Biden is leading President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup, “the widest margin recorded among the top five contenders for the party’s nomination.” In the same poll, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters Republicans not immune to the malady that hobbled Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election MORE (I-Vt.) and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg lead the incumbent president by just two points, with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBillionaire who donated to Trump in 2016 donates to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - GOP closes ranks to fill SCOTUS vacancy by November Buttigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds On The Money: Half of states deplete funds for Trump's 0 unemployment expansion | EU appealing ruling in Apple tax case | House Democrats include more aid for airlines in coronavirus package Warren, Khanna request IG investigation into Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mass.) statistically tied within the margin of error.

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This latest poll is similar to previous surveys over the past few months that show Biden leading Trump anywhere between five percentage points (CNN 12/12-12/15) and nine points (Quinnipiac 12/4-12/9). The Democratic nominee will need that kind of national advantage to ensure not just a popular vote victory, but an Electoral College win — the only thing that actually matters.

In 2008, then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats ramp up pressure on Lieberman to drop out of Georgia Senate race The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on Trump: 'He'll leave' l GOP laywers brush off Trump's election remarks l Obama's endorsements Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE was able to assemble a broad coalition of voters that delivered him a massive Electoral College win, defeating Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCrenshaw looms large as Democrats look to flip Texas House seat Analysis: Biden victory, Democratic sweep would bring biggest boost to economy The Memo: Trump's strengths complicate election picture MORE 365 to 173. Critical to that victory was the fact that Obama won the largest share of white support of any Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976, including winning 54 percent of young white voters. Obama also received a record-breaking 96 percent of black voter support and held McCain to breaking even with suburban voters, a key voting bloc that Republicans had previously counted on.

According to the same Morning Consult poll, Biden is the only leading Democratic candidate in the field that can assemble that similar winning Obama coalition. “Biden outperforms all of the leading contenders among white male voters… leads Trump among middle-income Americans, 45 percent to 43 percent… and he bests Trump by 8 points among suburban voters.”

Despite the president’s recent boasting of his electoral prospects come November, it’s clearly Biden who he is most worried about facing. No other Democratic official, aside arguably from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Overnight Health Care: New wave of COVID-19 cases builds in US | Florida to lift all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars | Trump stirs questions with 0 drug coupon plan Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Calif.), elicits the kind of fear that Biden provides in the mind of the Commander-in-Chief. One only needs to see the lengths to which Trump was willing to extort a foreign government in a careless and malicious attempt to try and discredit the former vice president to understand the level of anxiety in the White House over a Trump/Biden match up.

For all the hand-wringing among Democrats about which nominee would be most able to unify the party heading into November, Biden is also uniquely positioned to win over Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg supporters. When Sanders supporters are asked about their second choice in the primary, unsurprisingly Warren picks up 32 percent, but Biden follows closely at 28 percent. Similarly, Warren backers support Sanders as a second choice by 33 percent, but Biden is also strong at 24 percent — with Buttigieg trailing with 12 percent. Biden also leads among current Buttigieg and Bloomberg supporters by wide margins when asked about a second option.

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Pundits and casual political observers are currently promoting the idea that Democratic primary voters are split ideologically into warring camps, but the “second choice” figures paint a different picture of an electorate ready to unify behind Biden as the nominee.

With just a handful of weeks before Iowans head to their caucuses on Feb. 3, the Vermont senator and progressive groups in particular have trained their attacks on the former vice president. Politico is reporting that “many activist groups and rival campaigns had expected Biden — whose campaign once faced questions about its durability — to have crumbled by now.” But as former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has observed, “voters have seen all this information that’s been thrown at [Biden], and they’ve concluded that he is still the best person to beat Donald Trump.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi went on to inspire a movement that ultimately tackled the Empire and brought balance to the force. Hopefully Democrats will give the former vice president the same opportunity.

Kevin Walling (@kpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business.