NEWS

America, get ready for a terrible shock: ANDREW NEIL’s masterful analysis of why new Democrat victories DON’T let Biden off the hook is all you need to read to understand what’s REALLY around the corner…

The Biden White House has had few reasons to celebrate anything this year but after Tuesday’s election night they did: Democrats enjoyed a clean sweep in the crucial races that mattered.

Andy Beshear, a centrist Democrat, was comfortably re-elected Governor of Kentucky, a red state, against a Donald Trump-backed Republican. Even though the contest was depicted as a dead heat Beshear won 53 percent to 47 percent.

The Democrats not only kept control of Virginia’s state senate but took back the lower house from the Republicans, a slap in the face for Glenn Youngkin, elected Republican governor of this increasingly blue state in 2021. He had invested personal political capital and hard cash in the legislative races to reinforce his position as the poster boy for a post-Trump Republican Party, all to no avail. His presidential ambitions, for 2024 or 2028, have suffered a crushing blow.

Ohio followed the lead of a number of states since the Supreme Court last year overturned the federal constitutional right to an abortion (Roe v Wade) by enshrining it in its own constitution by a convincing 57 percent to 43 percent majority. And that’s in a Republican state.

Abortion rights also played a seminal role in Democratic victories in Kentucky (Beshear opposed the state legislature’s near total ban) and Virginia (where Democrats campaigned against Youngkin’s proposed 15-week limit on abortions).

The Biden White House has had few reasons to celebrate anything this year but after Tuesday’s election night they did: Democrats enjoyed a clean sweep in the crucial races that mattered. Andy Beshear, a centrist Democrat, was comfortably re-elected Governor of Kentucky, a red state, against a Donald Trump-backed Republican.

The Democrats not only kept control of Virginia’s state senate but took back the lower house from the Republicans, a slap in the face for Glenn Youngkin, elected Republican governor of this increasingly blue state in 2021. His presidential ambitions, for 2024 or 2028, have suffered a crushing blow.

By Wednesday morning the word from the White House and its legions of Democratic spinners in the media was loud and clear. Forget the polls. Democrats outperform the polls in real elections (as they had in last year’s November mid-terms, too). Women’s reproductive rights and Trumpian extremism will dominate next year’s presidential election and that’s Joe Biden’s winning ticket to re-election.

It is an alluring prospect for Democrats. But when the euphoria has died down and more sober analysis is brought to bear, wiser Democrats are likely to whisper something very different: just think of what we can achieve if Biden is NOT heading the Democratic ticket.

It’s two months since I wrote here about the burgeoning ‘Dump Biden’ movement inside the Democrats. Since then it has grown in momentum and, even if Tuesday’s results produce some temporary respite, I expect that momentum to continue into 2024.

A recent New York Times/Siena poll was devastating for President Biden. It put Trump ahead in five of the six battleground states, with a 10-point lead in Nevada, six in Georgia, five in Arizona and Michigan and four in Pennsylvania. Biden led only in Wisconsin — and by a paltry two points.

Team Biden quickly dismissed the poll as irrelevant because the election is a year away. True enough. There is plenty of water to flow under the bridge between now and voting day on November 5, 2024. But these naysayers are the very same people who championed a year-out poll in 2019 showing Biden to be the best Democratic bet against Trump for 2020 — which turned out to be right.

The real nightmare for Biden is not in the overall voting intentions, which certainly can change. It’s in the details, which are dire for the White House.

Among voters under 30, for example, Biden has the merest one percentage-point lead over Trump, which is statistically even-stevens and quite remarkable given how the young are meant to skew overwhelmingly Democrat.

Among black voters Biden still leads easily, as is to be expected. But Trump has 22 percent support, which even the New York Times points out is a ‘level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times.’ That black support will matter in the swing states, where every vote counts.

Age, it turns out, is undermining Biden in more ways than one: 71 percent of all voters now believe he’s too old to run, while 62 percent fear he’s no longer sharp enough. A September poll found only a third think he’d survive a full second term (‘he’d need a walker to make it across the White House lawn to Marine One,’ one Democratic pundit quips to me).

Just as important is the fact that, bar abortion, voters are out of sorts with Biden on ALL the issues that matter: the economy, inflation, immigration, crime. They think he’s weak on foreign policy and underperforming on the domestic front.

Remarkably, 45 percent of voters think they would be better off financially with Trump; only 18 percent feel the same about Biden.

Team Biden think this is unfair. The US economy has had the strongest post-pandemic recovery of any major economy in the world, unemployment is lower than most other economies and inflation has fallen faster.

The President has blamed the media for not getting this positive message across, which is a bizarre take given American journalism, print, broadcast and online, is dominated by Democrats with laptops linked to the country’s newsrooms.

It is a sign of how removed the Biden White House is from popular sentiment that it doesn’t realize that when voters talk of the economy they don’t mean unemployment or growth. They mean the cost of living. They see that the huge price rises of recent years are now baked into the cost of the essentials they have to buy. Yes, inflation has come down but prices are still higher than ever – and still rising, albeit more slowly.

A gallon of milk which cost $3.60 three years ago is now almost $4.40. A gallon of gas has come down from its $5 peak in June 2022; but at $3.42 it is still almost $1.20 more than three years ago. A pound of bacon cost now costs over $7; it was under $6 in 2020. People have kept their jobs but their pay checks haven’t risen as fast as these prices. That’s why Biden doesn’t get the credit he thinks he deserves for the economy. Polls show voters regard prices as more important than jobs.

The ‘Dump Biden’ bandwagon might be slowed by this week’s election results. But it won’t be derailed. It will regain momentum with every Biden gaffe and stumble to come. Meanwhile Trump is more of a shoo-in than ever for the Republican nomination.

He scores 60 percent support in nationwide polls of Republican voters, he’s got a 27-point lead in Iowa (and rising), where the Republican race for the nomination kicks off, and has a similar lead in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, to where it moves after Iowa.

Wednesday night’s debate among his fellow Republican hopefuls will not change any of that. It has become a contest for front-runner only should Trump somehow be forced to drop out.

I do not rule that out. Indeed, much as everything at the moment points to a grim re-run of the Biden v Trump 2020 contest, there is still a 50:50 chance it won’t work out like that.

The ‘Dump Biden’ bandwagon might be slowed by this week’s election results. But it won’t be derailed. It will regain momentum with every Biden gaffe and stumble to come. Meanwhile Trump is more of a shoo-in than ever for the Republican nomination. (Pictured: Trump takes the stand in New York fraud trial on Monday).

Trump scores 60 percent support in nationwide polls of Republican voters. Wednesday night’s debate among his fellow Republican hopefuls will not change that. It has become a contest for front-runner only should Trump somehow be forced to drop out. I do not rule that out. Indeed, much as everything at the moment points to a grim re-run of the Biden v Trump 2020 contest, there is still a 50:50 chance it won’t work out like that.

A year is a very long time in politics, especially in these febrile times. Biden is only one bad stumble or stroke away from being seriously incapacitated. The relentless litigation faced by Trump could yet conspire to force him to withdraw from the race – or lose his hero status among his fan base.

They are what former US defense secretary Don Rumsfeld famously called the ‘known unknowns’. They hover over the 2024 presidential campaign in ways we cannot predict.

The die might seem cast for a repeat of four years ago (though this time with Trump as favorite to win). But American politics is unpredictable at the best of times and never more so than now.

Events could yet conspire to upend a race whose parameters are nowhere near as settled as conventional wisdom would have us think. I don’t know exactly how this will happen. But be prepared for a shock.