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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 BidenEx-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' News leaders deal with the post-Trump era 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 TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' 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 SandersSocially-distanced 'action figure' photo of G7 leaders goes viral Progressives want to tighten screws beyond Manchin and Sinema Overnight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale 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 ButtigiegButtigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMark Cuban: ProPublica 'not being honest' about taxes on wealthy On The Money: Bipartisan Senate group rules out tax hikes on infrastructure | New report reignites push for wealth tax New report reignites push for wealth tax 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 ObamaArizona election audit draws Republican tourists Biden tries to erase Trump's 'America First' on world stage Queen Elizabeth will need to call upon her charm for Biden's visit MORE was able to assemble a broad coalition of voters that delivered him a massive Electoral College win, defeating Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Arizona AG Mark Brnovich launches Senate challenge to Mark Kelly Arizona Democrats launch voter outreach effort ahead of key Senate race 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 PelosiNew Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing Sunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda 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.