538 did a poll with Morning Consult to track how the Democratic candidates did in their two debates of last week.
They asked Americans how (among other things) favourable they saw each candidate both before and after the debates. The results are striking, and in line with what I and several others in the progressive circuit predicted:
Biden - Down 10 points
Bernie - Up 3
Warren - Up 2
Kamala Harris - Up 8 (now in third place according to this poll), taking voters by far from mostly Warren and Biden.
So, the results confirm that Biden had a terrible night. As I spoke about before, Biden's campaign is built on two pillars - and they're pillars of sand: the first thing buttressing Biden is the idea that he's somehow the ultimate Trump foe, who's guaranteed to beat him - not remotely true. This comes from the relentless propoganda from the media and the heart of the Democratic Party which still, after nearly 30 years of failure, affirms that a neoliberal centrist or often damned-right winger is the only way to go, and is the only thing that can win. Objectively, dangerously wrong.
Secondly, Biden is kept strong in this primary because enjoys a lot of support from the African-American community, which comes from his association with Barack Obama. His closeness to Obama is one of his strongest aces in his deck in general, thanks to Obama's popularity. And boy does ol' Joe let us know it. Constant pandering and mentioning of Obama whenever he needs to get out of a tricky situaton or boost his numbers.
But here's the thing - Barack Obama did not pick Joe Biden in '08 because of his popularity among black people. Obama picked Biden because of his support and connections amongst white conservatives. Biden has long had a strange and very ugly record of anti-POC history in his record: working with known and proud racist politicians on the segregationist busing policy, praising those racists even to this day, authoring and proudly leading on the savagely oppressive crime bill of the 90's which decimated so many POC communities, supporting the invasion of Iraq, being against Medicare for All and universal free tuition as well as opposing policies that woud ease the student debt crisis. Etc, etc, etc. All policies that harmed POC in particular. So, he's had a bad record when it comes to this area.
So yeah, so the point is that Joe Biden's campaign doesn't actually have anything to it - he's not the all-star to throw against Trump; he's the biggest risk. His support amongst POC communities would likely plummet if they knew his horrible record, if they knew him before Obama.
If you punch wholes in those two pillars of illusion then his campaign will fall. And as I reported the other day, that's exactly what has started to happen. VP Biden seemed unconfident, lackluster, weak on fortitude, and roundly beaten at points in the debates - there goes his Captain America-esque, ultimate-winner, impenetrable vs Trump aura. Or at least, here are the first holes in it.
Then, Kamala Harris tore him apart, rightly so, on his work to implement racist busing policies, and his affinity for racist politicians overall.
One of the first big swings of the axe at his second key campaign pillar.
And Bernie (and even Michael Bennet once) burned him down on some other key policies, too.
So, it's no surprise then that with the holes in his two main illusions starting to appear, his campaign support is starting to evaporate, here in the polls. And as I also reported recently, in the revolting big money game Biden is losing ground, too. A noted (now former) big donor of Biden's dropped out of team Joe leading up to debate due to the former VP's praise of racists and his flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment. He also criticised the VP's debate performance. He said he suspects other big donors will follow.
Also of much importance to note here is how well Sen. Kamala Harris did. Whilst she still for sure is not the front runner, she's cemented herself into the big 4 for now, after several months of lagging behind and drifting into obscurity. And she did it using her main standout strength - her shrewdness. She definitely is a very shrewd politician with he intelligence and work ethic to back it up, and has that classic, tactical, 'what do I need to do to win' mentality.
She's also very much a centrist with the trust and backing of the establishment, and if you are outside the establishment and outside the 1%, let alone a firm progressive or leftist, you should not be backing her - she doesn't support what you want.
But her shrewdness is key. She'll say what she needs to say even if she doesn't mean it - more than that, she'll actively seek out the things to say that will give her a poll boost, even if she doesn't mean them. She'll work hard to find the right media tactics, she'll use her intelligence to seek them out, and her and her team will find the right angle for the best hit. She'll be formidable then at winning the strategies of presentation.
I say the phrase 'strategies of presenation' to mean she's great at figuring out what to say even if or especially when you don't believe it, in comparison to being particularly good at actually orating that quipy line or inspirational speech. When it comes to actually saying it extremely convincingly/passionately/tear-jerkingly/etc - well, none of the candidates in this primary are as charismatic/as good an actor as Obama or Bill Clinton in saying things they don't believe, but Kamala is decent, fine. Combine that then with being very shrewd at figuring out what to say in the first place, and she's a very wary opponent when it comes to putting your message to the people. That's deadly.
Take candidates like Bernie, Tulsi Gabbard, also Warren a good amount too, and to an extent De Blasio. They're much more acustom to having their mind focused on talking about what they actually believe in, and what they're excited about, what they know is the real emergency. They don't think so tactically - very particularly Bernie (Gabbard a lot, too). That's a problem, because it means on issues where say Bernie might have a stellar record or stellar ideas and actually believes in impletmenting the solutions, he still might not win favor. His team need to think of an outside of the box way to present each idea, to break through the primary's noise on the issue (quite literally in that somewhat-mess at times of a debate), or people will never hear those ideas. On this they struggle.
This whole principle is why Bernie did ok but not great in the debate.
And ok is not gonna cut it in this primary. Great or nothing is what's needed.
Sen. Harris has no problem finding out the tactics to use in presenting an issue, even if she doesn't believe in the real solution for that issue, or what she's saying.
For Bernie and the other progressives to turn it around on Kamala Harris and the other centrists, they've got to crack this part of the dance.
The hard part is being principled in your revolutionary policy - if you've got that down, then the revolutionary communication absolutely can, and must follow.
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