We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Joe Biden. Alamy Stock Photo

Analysis Biden may be slipping, but here's what he should do to win...

Our columnist says the odds are against Joe Biden, but there are things he could do to push hard for a win.

THINGS AREN’T LOOKING good for President Joe Biden at the moment. Notwithstanding his ongoing criminal trial in New York and the potentially damaging revelations emanating from there, Donald Trump is in an enviable position in the polls with less than six months until Election Day.

According to the data regularly aggregated by, Trump currently leads in all seven battleground states that will decide who the 47th President of the United States will be. He is ahead by less than a percentage point in Michigan and Wisconsin, by two points in Pennsylvania, by five points in Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, and by six points in Nevada.

Even awarding Michigan and Wisconsin to the incumbent – no sure thing, given that polls have tended to underestimate the level of backing for Trump – President Biden’s re-election bid would fall short. Moreover, his strategists are reportedly deeply concerned at national surveys revealing how well Trump is doing with Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Black men and how widely unenthused women and men of colour are about a second term for the octogenarian. If they do not rally to their staunch ally’s side, he is screwed, to put it bluntly.

How Biden can be saved

In the words of a recent Time magazine feature, “Biden’s campaign is in trouble.” Yes, there is abundant time between now and November. But can he and his team right the ship? My own view is that they can. And here’s some unsolicited advice as to how.

First, there is no doubt that the grossly disproportionate response of Israel in Gaza to the horrific deeds of Hamas last 7 October, as well as the myriad consequences of so much human suffering, have presented a massive political headache for the Biden administration. It is not excessively glib to venture that the president is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

The divide within US progressivism on the long-running conflict in the Middle East has been laid bare. Biden can afford to lose neither the predominantly young activists who allege that he shares the blame for the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians, nor the influential Jewish American donors who demand that he stand by Israel, no matter what. And the fact is that the majority of Americans remain in Israel’s corner.

What he has to be especially wary of, politically speaking, is the reality that very many residents of Middle America instinctively despise the students they have been watching protest on Palestine’s behalf on the campuses of elite colleges and universities. Republicans are exploiting that sentiment to maximum effect. The summer should offer respite, but perhaps only temporarily. As such, and despite the disapproval of international observers who lament what they deem his complicity in a genocide, he must continue to walk a very fine line, while simultaneously endeavouring to achieve a ceasefire that could reap rewards at the ballot box.

Second, and infinitely more important to the citizenry than what is transpiring anywhere else in the world, are the interrelated topics of the economy and inflation. Certainly, the economic indicators are pretty positive across the board. Some Democratic operatives are convinced that President Biden’s low approval rating – hovering around 40% — is partly attributable to his failure to tout the good news.

Obviously, he should be doing so. But the statistics that animate professional economists translate into precious little for those struggling to buy groceries, fill the gas tank or enjoy a night out on the town in the face of horrendous inflation. Although it is slowing, it is still crippling for millions. Biden must recognise how badly so many are hurting as a result, demonstrate empathy, acknowledge that inflation is a global phenomenon largely beyond the power of governments to control and outline detailed initiatives to blunt its impact.

One potent, fruitful element on this front could be addressing the outrageous cost of higher education in the US and pledging to do everything possible during his second term to ensure that undertaking a bachelor’s degree at 18 years old isn’t akin to signing up for a mortgage. Mere speechifying on the biggest conundrum – how on earth will we pay for this? — afflicting countless American families would win plaudits and votes.

Third is that President Biden has to fight for it. He has tentatively agreed to debate Trump twice. It had been suggested that he avoid any encounters. That is an unreasonable proposition; refusing to participate would bequeath his foe another stick to beat him with and reinforce the prevalent scepticism regarding his age and capacity.

There is no question that Biden is limited. He must, however, push his body and mind to their ultimate bounds if he is to prevail. At the same time, cognisant that he is restricted, the campaign needs to use well-known, credible surrogates to bolster the case for his re-election. Governors Wes Moore of Maryland, Gavin Newsom of California and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan are ideally situated to help. There are others. The Clintons and the Obamas can also play a key role, if deployed wisely.

Culture wars

Fourth, the man who once claimed that he was “as liberal as your grandmother” on the culture wars has to assert some independence from the hard left. Abortion has definitely morphed into an issue that broadly benefits Democrats since the reversal of Roe v Wade. Yet that hasn’t rendered abortions after the early stage of pregnancy popular. Casting opposition to abortion as inherently misogynistic isn’t a shrewd tactic.

And when the controversial subject of gender identity arises, Biden has to be ready with a nuanced answer like this one. “Yes, in general, there are two genders. Boys are boys and girls are girls. The science establishes, though, that it’s just not that simple for a very small number of our children. And all I want is for our law and for our society to treat them equally and fairly, with dignity and with respect.” Most fair-minded individuals would concur.

Fifth, it is both an efficacious line of attack and the objective truth to recollect publicly that Donald Trump refused to accept the outcome of the 2020 election and that he stoked an uprising against the peaceful transfer of power in Washington, DC.

The soon-to-be GOP nominee has made plenty of disturbing comments about courses of action he may pursue in the event that he is returned to the White House. He is a defendant in multiple criminal proceedings related to his behaviour while he was commander-in-chief. “Don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative” is one of Biden’s mantras and he should not be reticent to ask voters to reflect upon the choice they have to make.

If President Biden and Co can manage to do all of the above successfully, and lots more besides, I think he has a decent chance. To win, I think he’s going to need some luck, too. For at this juncture in the numbers game that is electoral politics, it’s Advantage Trump.

Larry Donnelly is a Boston lawyer, a Law Lecturer at the University of Galway and a political columnist with

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.