LUCKY

Building on Shattered, their excellent account of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, Allen and Parnes attribute much of the success of the Biden campaign to a combination of fortuitous events. In some ways, Biden was a weaker candidate than Clinton, as his age, demeanor, and tendency to make faux pas statements weighed against him. Though the race was tighter than any Democratic campaigner would have liked, Biden’s opponent was Donald Trump, whose character flaws and scandal-plagued administration far surpassed any of Biden’s shortcomings. For instance, though Trump was advised countless times to attempt to show empathy for the victims of the pandemic, which he repeatedly called a hoax, he refused to do so for fear of appearing weak. Trump also believed that “there were millions of Trumpsters out there who just hadn’t voted for him yet.” He may have had a point, but Biden still beat him by 7 million votes. Biden’s good fortune also owed to the failings of those who faced him in the primary, and, as the authors clearly show, it was the result of significant effort on the parts of Black organizers and voters, particularly Stacey Abrams, who emerges here as a superbly effective political savant who withheld her endorsement of Biden until it was clear that he would be the candidate. Other news in these pages: Though Barack Obama proclaimed Biden as his brother, the authors write that he “had worried that his friend would embarrass himself on the campaign trail” and didn’t call to congratulate him until the networks finally declared the election on Nov. 7. In the end, in 2020, Biden “caught every imaginable break.” As one staffer noted, “if President Trump had just acknowledged there was a virus, even midway in August or September, acknowledged this is a fucked-up situation, and pivoted, we would have gotten crushed.”

LUCKY
Building on Shattered, their excellent account of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign, Allen and Parnes attribute much of the success of the Biden campaign to a combination of fortuitous events. In some ways, Biden was a weaker candidate than Clinton, as his age, demeanor, and tendency to make faux pas statements weighed against him. Though the race was tighter than any Democratic campaigner would have liked, Biden’s opponent was Donald Trump, whose character flaws and scandal-plagued administration far surpassed any of Biden’s shortcomings. For instance, though Trump was advised countless times to attempt to show empathy for the victims of the pandemic, which he repeatedly called a hoax, he refused to do so for fear of appearing weak. Trump also believed that “there were millions of Trumpsters out there who just hadn’t voted for him yet.” He may have had a point, but Biden still beat him by 7 million votes. Biden’s good fortune also owed to the failings of those who faced him in the primary, and, as the authors clearly show, it was the result of significant effort on the parts of Black organizers and voters, particularly Stacey Abrams, who emerges here as a superbly effective political savant who withheld her endorsement of Biden until it was clear that he would be the candidate. Other news in these pages: Though Barack Obama proclaimed Biden as his brother, the authors write that he “had worried that his friend would embarrass himself on the campaign trail” and didn’t call to congratulate him until the networks finally declared the election on Nov. 7. In the end, in 2020, Biden “caught every imaginable break.” As one staffer noted, “if President Trump had just acknowledged there was a virus, even midway in August or September, acknowledged this is a fucked-up situation, and pivoted, we would have gotten crushed.”