The Tortoise and the Hare

“The 2020 presidential election is the story of the tortoise and the hare,” AOL News opines. “President Trump is a frenetic and unpredictable presence, like the rabbit in one of the most famous of Aesop’s Fables. He is always full of sound and fury, yet what it signifies is often not clear. He has switched messages frequently in recent months, only to see his standing in the polls consistently slip.

“Former Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, is slow and steady, like the tortoise. He gets criticized for doing too little campaigning, and he’s not responding to every comment or controversy pushed by Trump and his campaign.

“Trump’s campaign has spent much of July telling those who watch TV ads that ‘you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ … Trump wants the campaign to be about law and order, but Biden has not taken the bait.

“His campaign is running ads about Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and [Biden] has spent the last month deliberately rolling out a week-by-week economic policy agenda. He’ll do a final event on the topic Tuesday in Delaware, where he’s expected to highlight his racial justice agenda. … The Biden campaign believes” Trump’s pivot to “law and order” and protest violence is “another sign of futility from Trump and his campaign, signaling that they can’t find a message that works.” Read story here.

This reads like an election analysis, but it’s really not, and we don’t need one. The polls clearly show what’s happening to Trump and his re-election prospects: Amid a pandemic and economic crisis that many Americans feel have been mishandled, his support is shrinking. Current projections show Biden winning well over 300 electoral votes with nearly 100 more up for grabs. And that’s before any debates, and with Biden campaigning from his basement. Although it should be noted that many political pundits expect the race to tighten as November approaches, and Trump is not finished by any means; vaccine and treatment breakthroughs, coupled with a reviving economy, could rescue his fortunes. And, as CNN points out, while the election appears to be Biden’s to lose, and Trump probably can’t win it, Biden could still lose it.

The tortoise and hare metaphor is a good one. Trump is running hard, but in place. Biden doesn’t have to do much, other than speak calmly and softly. This does look like Aesop’s fabled race, with Trump sprinting and then stopping to catch his breath, while Biden plods along steadily and overtakes him.

It’s a smart strategy for Biden. He’d be less attractive if he sparred with Trump tit-for-tat, and ran like a rabbit to keep up with him, taking health risks (and setting a bad example) by campaigning on the road. He’s doing what he needs to. And there’s a specific psychology his campaign approach appeals to: Many Americans feel safer right now inside their shells, instead of dashing about outside.

Tortoise and hare indeed.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    Presidential elections while called a race really are not. The media would like the public to believe elections are races, and far more exciting and important than they really are. The media has its own self interest in this as the media makes more money the more it can hype a race.
    Are the candidates going to accept their nominations and step toward the middle? That would be the typical Presidential race Be likeable, but maybe that is not this election. We won’t know the fullness of the race until after the conventions. It is not in the bag for Trump, but it is not for Biden either. Seems a lot of noise that resembles 2016 about this same time frame. Only the Democratic candidate had not fully sewn up her nomination with her party.
    Maybe this will be a return to the 1880s front porch campaigning, well actually that was beneath the candidates dignity. I rather doubt this will be that kind of election once the conventions are done, and the gloves are off. Hey could there be three rounds at one of the debates. Anyone want to put down on Biden or Trump? Boxing gloves or none? This coul be fun two old men going all Mohammed Ali on each other. Cassius Clay will have a good chuckle from the grave.