Joe Biden's not delivering on Pennsylvania

Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential frontrunner who's been sold to the public as the Trump Killer based on his appeal in his native Pennsylvania, isn't exactly taking it away in that state.

Axios found a new poll showing that he's not impressing the swing voters there at all:

ERIE, Pa. — Voters here who switched from Barack Obama to Donald Trump are sticking with Trump in 2020 — unlike other swing voters who are getting tired of him.

Why it matters: Their loyalty is a wakeup call to all 2020 Democrats, but especially Joe Biden, since he's banking heavily on his ability to win the state.

  • That was the main takeaway from the latest Engagious/FPG focus group I watched here last week, which included eight Obama/Trump voters.

The big picture: Pennsylvania was crucial to Trump's victory in 2016, and it's a key state Democrats are hoping to win back in 2020. These swing voters show the importance of Democratic candidates breaking through in rural areas like Erie if they want to replace Trump.

That's bad news for Old Joe because Pennsylvania, and the perception he can win in Pennsylvania, is probably why he's the Democratic frontrunner, with consistently strong leads in polls. Everyone likes to go for the strong horse.

Salena Zito, who's an expert on Pennsylvania, wrote in April that Biden's capacity to deliver Pennsylvania was his "killer advantage" compared to other Democrats and perhaps Trump, too, citing the views of the political experts:

His affinity for the state and the people who live here could be the key to taking the presidency.

“If you’re going to win the White House, you have to win Pennsylvania as a Democrat,” said Rich Fitzgerald, the chief executive and highest ranking Democrat in Allegheny County. “And to win Pennsylvania, you have to win Western Pennsylvania. And you have to do better than we did in 2016 — we lost some of our suburban areas and counties by 40, 50, 60 points.”

Yet based on this new poll, datelined Erie, Pennsylvania, the voters aren't biting. That pretty well means Joe's "killer advantage" is not such the Trump-killer people thought it was. 

Trump, after all, did lead a spectacular rally in Pennsylvania just a few weeks ago. I can't find the reference, but I recall that Zito herself has reported that the Penn voters seem to be sticking with Trump, too.

That renders Biden nearly useless for winning back the White House. With that gone, what other advantage does he have?

One can speculate a bit on the reasons for this hollowing out of Old Joe with some schadenfreude:

First, as Peggy Noonan noted earlier: Voters who switched to Trump invested a lot of mental capital in making that dramatic change for Trump, so it's natural that they want to give that investment some time to work. Based on the details and quotes from the Axios report, that dynamic seems to be in play.

Second, another issue is that without Pennsylvania, what does Biden have to offer that the others don't offer better? Biden keeps swinging left same as all the cookie-cutter 23-and-Me Democratic Party pool of candidates. With all of them sounding exactly alike propounding the same crazed socialist agenda, identity politics is about all that's left for voters to choose from. Would you like your socialism from a good looking black/Indian woman, a grumpy old man, a sharp young gay mayor, a Kennedyesque Texan, or a Harvard professor who now bills herself as an Okie? Joe Biden can't compete with any of that, he's old, he's buffoonish, he's a bland white man, and he's been around too long.

Third, he's got a rap sheet a mile long of political flip-flops and blunders which keeps the criticism levels high from his rivals.

Fourth, he hasn't gotten President Obama's endorsement.

So again, what does he have to offer if he can't deliver on Pennsylvania, and presumably, other critical states with Pennsylvania-like dynamics? He's held onto Pennsylvania like Gollum has held onto his ring, and as it turns out, he's lost his grip on "my precious."

Without Pennsylvania, he's got nothing.

It certainly does explain why other polls show that most Americans think Trump is going to walk away with the presidency a second time, very handily. Joe can't deliver.

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