Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy (bit.ly/2kP6FkZ). Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Sep. 16, 2019 3 min read

No—media's repeating a *different* error. In '16, some analysts said Clinton's name-recognition as compared to Sanders was artificially propping up her candidacy—that she was fading over time and failing to draw enthusiasm. They were right. Now some rightly say the same of Biden.

1/ An analyst like @JRubinBlogger would tell you the reason Biden's well ahead of (say) Beto is that—though both are moderate straight white men—Biden's a stronger candidate. No—Biden has an *unimaginable* name-/policy-recognition advantage it'd take Beto a year-plus to overcome.

2/ The mistake media *repeatedly* makes is in confusing name-recognition for political acumen. What we *should* be looking at is how a candidate performs with a population the more the population sees him up close. Biden is sliding as folks get "beyond" his name to his candidacy.

3/ Whatever one thought of Sanders in 2016, his chief weakness was he was unknown—as a Vermont Senator—to nonwhite Democrats, and older nonwhite voters (who tend to be more moderate) were particularly suspicious. He made inroads over time, but a campaign simply isn't long enough.

4/ Biden isn't a strong candidate. He slides over time, the more folks really pay attention to *him* and not just his name. The *only* question on the Democratic side is whether other candidates have enough time—because it takes *many many months*—to make themselves really known.

5/ Because media follows candidates all day, and because they think "name-recognition" is the *same* as *really* feeling comfortable with a candidate, they pretend that voters can become comfortable with someone in a matter of weeks or a couple months. No—it takes a year-plus.

6/ So smart politicos aren't suspicious of Biden because they can't understand his immutable appeal to non-college-educated voters, it's that they know the basis for Biden's appeal is simply that he's a known quantity—and that that's *no basis* for high enthusiasm down the line.

7/ What media missed about Trump was how grievously and thoroughly broken the GOP was in 2016—in part because the establishment Republicans who spoke most to politicos were themselves willfully ignorant of the party's position, so they weren't accurately reporting Trump's appeal.

8/ It's a nice narrative that @JRubinBlogger has, as it superficially makes sense—educated journalists can't understand less-educated voters. But as ever, the bias corporate media has is *more complex* than the simple elitist narrative those on the right—even Rubin—tend to craft.

9/ I say *all the time* that Clinton kicked Trump's butt in the popular vote, so please don't use that straw man on me. I'm with you. "Drawing enthusiasm" means beating an *obvious liar, rapist, and criminal* by enough to be POTUS. Trump should've been beaten by 6 points or more.

10/ None of this is to knock on Clinton at all—I've *no interest* in that. But it was Lawrence O'Donnell who first noted, after doing a historical study, that Clinton's popularity is highest when she's not running, and slowly degrades over time—inalterably—when she's a candidate.

11/ Biden's in a similar situation to Clinton in that respect: those who study his past candidacies have noted that while people like and admire him generally, when he runs for president he becomes less—not more—popular over time. Right or wrong, fair or not, that fact *matters*.

12/ We live in a time when people assume someone has a problem with Biden if they worry he can't beat Trump. Most don't—most *love* Biden. Just so, many of those who worried Clinton would lose to Trump in fact deeply admired Clinton, but felt compelled to put beating Trump first.

CONCLUSION/ Biden isn't getting good press because he hasn't *earned* any—from the time he began running he hasn't done well as a candidate, and you don't give coverage to a candidacy based on how good a person and how well-respected a person a candidate was *pre-candidacy*. /end


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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