Democrats, fearful of a repeat of President Donald Trump’s upset victory in 2016, are reportedly losing sleep over their candidate, Joe Biden, potentially seeing his lead in the polls evaporate and ultimately losing the election.
On Friday, the Los Angeles Times noted that Democrats are nervous about Biden falling behind in the final stretch of the presidential race when it matters most.
The report came as some polls show Trump is chipping away at Biden’s lead nationally and in battleground states.
“There is a legitimate case for jittery nerves. The national polling averages that show Biden with a double-digit lead obscure a narrower gap in the swing states essential to win a 270-vote Electoral College majority,” the LA Times conceded Friday, adding:
In this final dash of the presidential race, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a solid lead and his backers are working themselves to exhaustion. Yet Democrats still find that they can’t sleep at night. Their nightmare of 2016 — front-runner Hillary Clinton’s stunning upset by Donald Trump — keeps jolting them awake.
The specter of a repeat seems to be reflected in everything Democrats are doing, from the panicked tone of fundraising pitches to campaign ads that run as often as 65 times a day in key battleground markets.
While campaigning in battleground Michigan over the weekend, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Biden’s VP pick, expressed concerns about a potential 2016 repeat.
She indicated that Democrats are having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from Trump’s presidential victory.
“You know, we all have PTSD from 2016, yes,” Harris declared Sunday, echoing Paul Begala, a longtime advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton and a founder of the Democratic fundraising giant Priorities USA.
“Everybody is anxious,” Begala told the LA Times. “It is not just post-traumatic stress disorder. We have permanent traumatic stress disorder. We will never get over what happened in 2016.”
“At this point, everything worries me,” Karen Finney, a senior Clinton advisor in 2016, added.
Democrat operatives are reportedly “obsessing” over ways in which the former vice president could still blow it and see his lead in the polls disappear in the final days of the election.
“A slight shift in voters’ mood in those places could mean the difference between a Biden blowout and Trump eking out another narrow victory even as he loses the popular vote — as he did to [Hillary] Clinton four years ago,” the Times noted, referring to swing states.
During the last presidential debate, Biden made comments about transitioning away from oil that could damage Biden’s prospects in swing states like Pennsylvania and blue areas like New Mexico. Fossil fuels are a substantial source of income for many middle-class Americans across the country.
In the wake of the pandemic, some polls showed signs that Trump is gaining on Biden in some battleground states and nationally.
“President Donald Trump gained on his Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polling averages, and in nine of 12 contested states,” USA Today reported Monday.
Trump is also gaining ground with minorities, a significant voting bloc necessary to a Democrat victory.
The race could quickly turn into a tossup if just a small portion of working-class white voters abandon Biden in battleground states, and Democrat turnout among minorities is “slightly smaller” than expected, a memo from Priorities USA reportedly warned.
Declining support for Biden among minorities is keeping some Democrat operatives up at night.
“We ended up taking Black voters for granted” in some Democrat strongholds, Finney conceded, referring to the last election cycle.
Still, Democrats like Cornell Belcher, a pollster for Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, believe angst over a potential Trump win is overblown.
“People have exaggerated the lessons of 2016 because it was such a jolting moment,” Belcher told the Times.
“For people who have done this for a living for a while, and are students of electoral politics, the fundamentals for Joe Biden are sound,” he added, citing Biden’s lead, Trump’s disapproval rating, the pandemic, and racial division across the country.