Please have Josh Barro as a guest. Someone to bring a normal sensibility.

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Nice work on the audio equalization this week. Much less annoying!

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Brian says: progressives will support Biden (infectious enthusiasm) when Biden starts beating Trump in polling. To do that, however, I think Biden needs to talk and sound like a normie, law & order, church-going, bi-partisan deal-making President. Joe needs a strategic communications team that *amplifies* Joe Biden’s Scranton PA instincts, instead of hiding him. Let Biden be Biden. The big puzzle: How does Biden not see this?

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The association between Orban and Erdogan isn't that they're both strongmen. The association is "food". Hungary for Turkey! I earnestly believe this is the explanation.

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I think you are overly dismissive of the idea that Biden could step aside and someone other than Harris gets the nomination. If Biden stood aside in April, say, and pointedly declined to endorse Harris, I think there’s a good chance someone else is nominated at the convention. Harris doesn’t really have a constituency in the party anymore. Now Matt seems to think a contested convention is absurd, but this is done at the state level from time to time and it’s fine, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work nationally.

On Biden’s age, I’m more persuaded Biden’s age is a real issue. It comes up all the time when I talk politics with my less politically engaged friends. These people don’t really have any issue specific grievances with Biden, they just think his age makes him less competent in a vague sense.

That Biden polls better than Whitmer is purely a name recognition issue. Whitmer polls much better than Biden in Michigan, as you noted. And I don’t think she’d need to outright criticize Biden, but simply present herself as moderate. While I think issue positioning matters, I think Matt underrates the importance of vibes and the personal qualities of candidates.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

I personally don't agree with that assessment, but either way it's very clearly the high risk option:

It'll be the biggest news story for a long time and it is very likely to go badly because people are turned off by the chaos and unusualness and won't know the new candidate. It's a Hail Mary - something you do as a last resort.

If you ARE going to do it, then you should ideally anoint a candidate so that you then don't also waste more months infighting and tilting leftward. I just don't see how that can practically be done, but maybe... But they should try lots of other things before they do it.

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Very fun discussion (until Matt dropped his Manchin take. Matt. Buddy. What are we doing here). I agree that the only person who could have run against Biden is someone attacking from the left. I think Jon Stewart honestly laid out the country’s frustration with Biden better than anyone.

Just emotionally, people want transformative change in politics, whatever that means to them. Obama got people PSYCHED. No Democratic nominee since has gotten people psyched. Many were disappointed that Obama’s presidency was mostly politics as usual, so they did not show up for Hillary, because (in their perception anyway) it meant more Obama-style status quo. This is Trump’s appeal: transformative change (in the other direction). Trump took advantage of liberal malaise and galvanized a bunch of crazy people who had never voted before.

The lefties who were psyched for Bernie settled for Biden due to the threat of Trump. But it meant a return to liberal politics as usual, with incremental, barely-noticeable changes, and not a lot of focus on what motivates lefties: more social safety nets (mostly healthcare), police/criminal justice reform, that kind of thing.

Biden wants to protect “our institutions.” But other than upper and middle class liberals (and the middle class is shrinking, remember) NOBODY LIKES our institutions. And the ever-delayed Trump trials and a rogue SCOTUS only lends to the leftist assertion (which I share) that our institutions need completely reformed, not blindly protected.

I fell out of love with Biden when after months of knowing the Roe decision ahead of time, all he had to say about SCOTUS reform is that he didn’t want to “politicize the court.” Does he think people are stupid? It’s the same now with Gaza. Does he realize we’re seeing all this play out in real time, every day on social media? It feels like he’s lying, or ignorant, or chickenshit, or some combination of those things.

Low-information voters do have information about what’s wrong with the world, they just don’t know how basic civics work.

So, yes. Progressives like myself wanted a young progressive to challenge Biden from the left. Mainstream liberals had no real reason to challenge Biden, because they liked his record. Sort of the issue the GOP got themselves into with all these republicans running solely on being Trump without the baggage.

I don’t think anyone is worried about ONLY Biden’s age. I think liberals are worried persuadable voters won’t show up due to his age. But it won’t be due to that. It’s about people feeling powerless. SCOTUS can take away our rights and Dems refuse to fight them. It’s on us to organize and vote. Left of center folks did not get to decide their nominee this time around, it was just…Biden or some guy named Dean who sucks, or some lady named Maryanne who sucks. People feel stuck and hopeless and powerless, Trump is as powerful as ever, and Biden’s insistence on running, IMO, just emotionally adds to that impression. So they feel like the only power they have is to stick it to the man: Biden.

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This is a little awful, but I think Matt is onto something in that if Biden talked to a reporter for half an hour about his favorite personal dogs through the years it might help his standing. It shouldn't be that way probably but that's America for you!

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Who are the "the people who run the democratic party?"

Two ideas: one serious, and one sarcastic.

First, please explain how the selection of a nominee works. Neutrally.

Secondarily, who is the the "democratic party"? Who is the team leader of the left wing party in the United States?

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14

Really liked the more in depth analysis of the age issue. I do think that a perceived lack of energy is a big problem for lots of normies by default, and the White House's strategy has played into it, while Trump's strategy plays against it:

* Biden is old, rarely seen, and the White House doesn't do much to actually talk about what Biden has done and what he believes in a way that is relatable to voters. That's a bad combo all else being equal.

* Lots of people associate his presidency with a worsening economy, border chaos, foreign instability, and crime. They're aware of the abortion decision, but they're generally not that aware of the other things Biden has done - and I think the lack of relatable communication plays into that.

* Based on that I can see how Biden don't view him that favorably: His steady hand isn't that visible, and they instead see a lack of vigor and progress. Trump is almost the opposite: High vigor and big promises, and because Biden's term hasn't seemed that calm in terms of events they don't realize how truly insane a Trump term would be.

I don't think switching Biden without addressing this perception would help, you still have to sell people on what was achieved in the last 4 years and how it contrasts: Talk about the economy in relatable terms; talk about what Trump would do the economy, to the country, to the world; talk about social issues in relatable terms.

You don't have to have Biden be out there on TV constantly, but you do have to push his message. Talk about what Biden has achieved, and why Trump would be terrible.

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