The Bulwark Presents
The Triad by JVL

Why Joe Biden Is Rolling the Dice

August 1, 2019
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(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

1. Rolling the Dice

I wrote a long piece last night about the second Detroit debate. If you want to read it, it’s here.

If you don’t want to read all of it, the short version is:

  • Biden did well.
  • Harris did poorly.
  • Tulsi was an assassin.
  • Gillibrand was Gillibrand.
  • Everyone hates Bill de Blasio.

But I want to expand a bit on the bet Biden has made.

Joe Biden has decided to run as the presumptive nominee and as such is already executing a general election campaign. He’s going directly at Trump. On the Democratic party’s two most important progressive litmus tests—the eradication of private health insurance and the decriminalization of illegal immigration—he has refused to take the progressive line.

He has done this because he knows that in a general election, Trump’s two biggest arguments will be that the Democratic nominee wants to take away your health insurance and have open borders.

So Biden is wagering that he can take those weapons away from Trump and still win the nomination.

In other words, he’s willing to risk losing the nomination in order to win the general election.

Any way you look at it, he’s rolling the dice here.

2. Odds

I like Biden’s odds.

The reason he’s able to make this bet is because of the assets he brings to the race. He’s the vice president and natural heir to the most popular living Democratic president. He is an exceedingly popular figure and good retail politician. His name ID begins at 100 percent. His donor network is pre-loaded.

In other words, Biden can risk running counter to the base in ways that Harris and Mayor Pete probably couldn’t and Bernie and Warren wouldn’t want to.