DANIEL VAUGHAN: Explosive White House Infighting Confirms Trump Is Leading

 March 18, 2024

While the press was obsessed with a Trump speech in which he used the word "bloodbath," a far more interesting development happened in the White House. Multiple reports are showing a Biden administration in distress, with growing tensions, backstabbing, and blame shifting over the fact that they're losing.

NBC News had the scoop, with a headline reading, "Behind the scenes, Biden has grown angry and anxious about re-election effort." In it, we learn of an increasingly insular, bitter White House losing ground in polls and with its base. That's leading to them lashing out against allies and enemies. It's the portrait of a White House in free fall with no parachute or plans for landing.

At the center of this is Biden's abysmal polling. I've written about it, but it's historically bad. "Biden's 38% approval rating at this stage in the calendar is lower than that of the last three presidents who went on to lose re-election: Trump (48%), George H.W. Bush (39%), and Jimmy Carter (43%), according to Gallup survey data."

What's noteworthy about those three is that you can point to external factors that drug them down. Bush had a recession pulling him down, Trump had the COVID-19 pandemic, and Carter had the high-inflation debacle giving him the infamous "malaise." If you were to ask Biden and his staff, they'd claim nothing is wrong economically, and no external events are impacting them.

If it's not external, you must look at the person in charge: Biden. Americans uniformly view his performance as poor and his capacity to continue in that role as limited.

That's not just conjecture. Polls show that nearly a majority of Americans believe Biden won't be the nominee by November. Democrats can't get anyone to pay attention to an accomplishments list because no one believes the man at the top will be there. Why bother?

Additionally, Biden got hit with reports that his staff is insisting he wear special shoes to prevent falling. Standard dress shoes are a liability now, along with staircases from Air Force One and other things. Meanwhile, the White House is defending itself from reports that Biden needs cheat cards to remember the names of foreign leaders he's speaking to, which include talking points and how to say a name.

All this, in turn, is fracturing the two main camps in the White House: Biden loyalists versus Obama-era operatives. Biden is grumbling that Obama would be "jealous" of Biden's accomplishments. And that burns Biden because he's not getting the same credit for what he's "done."

The theme here is Biden blaming everyone else for what's happening while he takes no responsibility. While that's not unusual for a politician, Biden is taking it to the next level, willing to take issue with past Democrats for his predicament. Given Obama's continuing popularity with Democratic voters, it's a bizarre strategy to take as Biden's 2024 strategy flounders.

Biden's incapacity to fix his campaign extends to the Democratic Party's decision to attack third parties. NBC News reports that the Party is putting together an official operation to counter third-party candidates, which includes challenging ballot access and smearing them all.

There's no positive case for Biden. The irony is that this is the race that Biden wanted. He wanted to face Trump again and helped pump up Trump as his primary opponent at every turn. And yet, here he is at historic lows in the polls and losing to Trump.

In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, the last time Biden held a lead was September 11, 2023. That's six months of Trump leading the polls, something he never did in the 2016 or 2020 general elections. We're in new polling territory for Trump, while Democrats are sinking fast. Given current trends, we're heading towards seven months of Trump leading.

I have no doubt Biden will open up his war chest, ads will go up, and the press will turn even more negative. However, stories like NBC News, where the White House is descending into infighting, rivalries, and seething outbursts, are not a recipe for a comeback. These are the stories you read when a campaign knows it's losing and doesn't have a strategy forward. It's people trying to preserve their careers rather than trying to win.

When March began, Biden centered his big comeback around the State of the Union address. That night came and went. Biden got his positive media coverage and did a media blitz, and we're in the same spot as before. Trump is leading, and Democrats are panicking.

That race isn't over. General elections in the United States have many twists and turns. But when one candidate builds a commanding multi-month lead and the other descends into bitter infighting, you're given a realistic look at what everyone truly believes about the race.

The clock is ticking for Biden.

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