Even if he wins, Biden failed to make the sale
Democrats need to take a cold, hard look at the way they do business regardless of the outcome of the presidential race.
Joe Biden may win the White House, but he didn’t win much of a mandate. To be successful, he will need to create his own mandate for change to deal aggressively with the pressing problems that challenge the future of our great nation.
Conditions were ripe for a big victory, but Democrats failed to bring in the harvest. The deadly pandemic has killed more than 230,000 Americans and the subsequent economic carnage has left millions of people unemployed. These devastating afflictions should have led a severe rebuke to an incumbent president and his party but that just didn’t happen. Donald Trump seems to have gotten off easy because Biden failed to make the sale to voters concerned about their finances.
The national exit poll indicates that the two most pressing concerns of voters were the economy and racial justice. But there was much more concern about economics than race. A third of the voters prioritized the economy and these voters overwhelmingly supported Trump. One out of every five voters said that racial justice was their top concern, and these people went for Biden. Concern about the pandemic was next on the list of voter concerns but there were twice as many voters who worried about the economy.
The Democratic failure to win big should lead to a close examination of the party’s economic message. Americans were clearly unhappy with the president’s failure to fight the pandemic, but they stuck with him on the economy despite the financial hardship he inflicted on Americans from his failure to take the COVID-19 outbreak seriously.
Financial concerns worked to the incumbent’s advantage despite widespread unemployment. The Trump edge on economic issues indicates that Democrats need a sharper and bolder financial message that addresses the suffering of Americans buffeted by two recessions in the last 12 years. If Democrats don’t have a message that works during a recession, then they’ll be in deep trouble when and if the economy improves.
Biden’s Build Back Better plan wasn’t distinctive enough to alleviate voter concerns about handling the keys to the economic kingdom and Federal Reserve back to a Democrat. The last two recessions started under GOP chief executives, but many voters are still uncomfortable with Democratic stewardship of the economy.
The post-election surveys also illustrate the racial divide in American society. Most white voters supported the president while a majority of minority group members voted for his challenger. As the minority population continues to grow, there will be more cries for racial justice and sadly more resistance to racial equality.
Biden and the Democratic Party have ardently embraced the need for a multi-racial nation, and they should continue to fight the good fight for justice and harmony. The resurgence of right-wing racial terrorism in the United States demonstrates that resistance to a just society is fierce but Democrats must continue to do the right thing.
America is changing and Trump supporters don’t like it. While Trump supporters resist change. Biden voters welcome it.
The U.S. Census Bureau has projected that the U.S. will be majority nonwhite by 2044 only 24 years from now. Many white Americans fear the loss of their special palace of privilege in society and are fighting a rearguard action to delay the inevitable. Demography is destiny and the Democratic destiny is diversity.
The other big change in American society is the centralization of political and economic power at the national level. The more complex society becomes, the more pressure there is to solve problems nationally. Health care is the best example and the fights against climate change and the pandemic are others. Biden supporters are comfortable with centralization, Trump voters fight it.
There is some clarity in the muddled election returns. Division and discord will be a persistent factor in American democracy for the foreseeable future. The fissures in society will be very intense between now and Inauguration Day as Trump fights tooth and nail to preserve his failed presidency and stay out of prison.
The election results demonstrate that America is sharply divided between Biden supporters who ardently embrace change and Trump voters who resist it kicking and screaming. D stands for Democrat and drive while R represents Republican and reverse. Trump acolytes can slow the tidal forces of social and economic change, but they can’t stop the inevitable. The partisan fight is between forces who are open to the challenges of the future and those who find comfort in the past.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.
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