Betfair markets continue to diverge significantly from polling models, despite a stack of evidence emerging to disprove the narrative that Donald Trump enjoyed a bounce following the Republican Convention. His odds imply a 45% chance of winning compared to just 28% with Fivethirtyeight and even lower in other models such as the New Statesman (19%) or The Economist (16%).
One frequently stated explanation is fear of history repeating itself. Remember 2016, when Hillary Clinton was overwhelming favourite, but Trump defied the polls and the pundits. There is a narrative that Biden is no better a candidate and will suffer the same fate.
Opponents claim he has dementia. There was no evidence of that in his conference speech. Nor when returning to in-person campaigning last week. Rather, his interventions regarding the violence in Wisconsin and the story claiming Trump had called fallen US soldiers 'suckers' and 'losers, were competently executed with the right tone.
It is early days in the campaign, of course. Biden is bound have his bad days and we can't really say how effective he'll be just yet. We can, however, note the fundamental differences with Clinton.
There is probably a bias against female candidates
Start with the obvious. It is often said that women are at a disadvantage with the US electorate. I'm not wholly convinced because there are plenty of very electable women, but don't doubt a small segment still can't get their heads around career women. Let alone Commander-in-Chiefs. In head-to-head polls versus Trump, Democrat men fared slightly better than women.
Biden is in a far superior polling position
The differences between current polls and 2016 cannot be overstated. Biden is running comfortably ahead of Clinton's position. His Fivethirtyeight average lead over Trump is 7.5%, compared to 3.4%.
A critical difference is undecideds or third parties. Their figure amounts to just 6.5% compared to 19% at this stage in 2016. For what its worth, when both Biden and Clinton were polled against Trump in theoretical match-ups in 2015/16, he fared much better.
Biden isn't under FBI investigation
Lest we forget, Clinton's campaign was fatally hampered by a year-long FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail server. It resurfaced during the final days of the campaign, perhaps to decisive effect. It took Trump's many scandals and controversies off the headlines in that critical closing stretch when those undecideds were choosing.
Biden has no such reputation, despite Trump's best efforts. The president was impeached earlier this year for openly bullying the Ukranian government to find/invent corruption involving Biden's son, Hunter. They will surely try again before November 3rd. Pro-Russia Senator Ron Johnson has been plotting in plain sight. Given the ineptitude of the previous scam though, I'm highly sceptical it will amount to anything or cut through.
Biden's career hasn't been dogged by controversy
Nor has Biden spent his career under more or less constant investigation by in Congressional Republicans. Before the e-mails, there was Benghazi. Back in the nineties, there was Whitewater and Bill Clinton's impeachment. They came under more intense, personal scrutiny than any political family since the Kennedys.
I often muse that House of Cards ruined Clinton. The plot read like all the worst things they had ever been accused of. A cynical Democrat couple and ruthlessly ambitious First Lady who would do or say anything for power. By 2016, Hillary was a hate figure to a substantial minority and to many more, under suspicion. The only presidential candidate ever with worst approvals was Trump.
The smears cut through because enough people believed they carried a ring of truth. Absurd smears like running a paedophile ring, or having people killed, may sound ridiculous but corruption at the Clinton Foundation doesn't. At the very least, they were part of the 'elite' or as Trump would say, 'the swamp'.
Biden has much greater blue-collar appeal
None of that applies to Biden. He's a working-class boy from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Part of his selling point to Obama was his appeal in the Rust Belt and Mid-West. A family man who has suffered appalling personal tragedy in full public view - his wife and daughter died in a car crash in 1972 and his army veteran son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. He was VP to the popular President Obama.
Perhaps most notably, Biden has many Republican friends and endorsers. When the smears come flying, he'll have a range of convincing advocates.
The strongest argument for the Democrats picking Biden is that he was the only candidate who could plausibly have run as the candidate to reunite America after Trump's division. Around this time four years ago, Clinton was caught on tape writing off Trump supporters as 'deplorables', spurning a million t-shirts and memes. I can't imagine this Democrat nominee doing that.
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