Joe Biden's America is a traumatized country, a country 'in limbo', says US expert Laila Frank. Frank points to a series of shocks facing the country: the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and Trump's four years in the Capitol by storm. “Americans really don't want to think about politics for three years.”
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So it's no surprise, says Frank, that some Americans are actually looking forward to the upcoming elections. What did Joe Biden's three-year presidency accomplish? According to Frank, even though Biden has fulfilled all his campaign promises, he is still highly underestimated by Americans. For example, Biden has spent a lot of money on communities, has been able to release a large sum of money for a much-needed overhaul of American infrastructure, and has been able to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats. One problem: Frank says it's not all seen by voters. “Americans don't recognize or realize that, and that's a huge problem for Joe Biden.”
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Frank attributes this dissatisfaction to a variety of factors. There are many jobs, but at the same time life has become very expensive. And it doesn't help that Biden doesn't believe in politics anyway, and that he's not seen as a strong leader. “People don't have that feeling about Joe Biden.” Finally, people don't realize what Biden is doing for them: critical infrastructure maintenance is essential, but a bridge isn't built in a day. 'It's as long as the climate.'
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The president continues to be in a dilemma both inside and outside his party: he's too progressive for some, not enough for others. Although domestic issues are what American voters are evaluating Biden for, foreign affairs also play an important role. According to Frank, many Americans fear that Biden is leading them into an endless war, and the prevailing sentiment is negative against another conflict after disastrous adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kamala Harris, the invisible Achilles heel
What Biden also lacks: a second appeal in the form of his running mate, Kamala Harris. She's mostly invisible, but when she does get attention, Frank says, it's usually in a negative way. 'The hard part is that when it's known, things often don't go well.' According to Frank, Harris ended up in a complicated and negative spiral. 'I'll let her do it. His likability numbers aren't great, and his media appearances generally aren't great. If Biden leaves, Frank thinks an influential part of the Democratic establishment won't approve of Harris taking his place. She not only predicted a lot of opposition, but that it would 'open up the field'. 'You already have many candidates. There are alternative candidates, but they are not given a platform, certainly not from the party.
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According to Frank, aside from his aging image, Biden has a charge and Donald Trump has an additional problem: He's losing the young voter. 'Joe Biden is losing young voters (…) because he unconditionally supports Israel. These are all elections about the margins, so it matters a lot. What should Biden do better? Focusing on young voters — not only is he likely to lose them if policy remains unchanged, but it's precisely the group that put him in the saddle three years ago. Because Biden is less interested in black and Latino voters, according to Frank, he is more likely to gravitate toward Donald Trump. “It's historic, and Joe Biden should go there a little more.”
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Frank explains that those voters are switching to Trump based on a variety of factors, such as entrepreneurship, conservatism and masculinity. 'Certainly those from the Latino community, who are often from a traditional, conservative and religious background. You're better off with Republicans than Democrats. But behind it is also an image of masculinity and pride. You'll find more in the Republican Party than in the Democratic Party.
According to Frank, the election battle will once again be between Biden and Trump. However, with two important differences: the lawsuits hanging over Trump like the Sword of Damocles, and Trump now better prepared for a potential presidency. It's those cases that could trouble Trump, the first of which will begin in March. The game changes when Trump actually gets a conviction or goes to jail. According to Frank, many floating voters could leave, which would benefit Biden.
Donald Trump is better prepared for his presidency than he was seven years ago. Not only has he had a 'solid team' around him for a year and a half, 'who can be appointed to the Cabinet is already being thought about, official appointments are being considered, so you get a President. Well prepared.
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