Why a ‘Do No Harm’ General Election Strategy Could Work for Joe Biden
Nate Zimdars,a Democratic candidate for the Wisconsin state Assembly, arrived at the VFW lodge in Adams, Wisconsin, after marching in the local Independence Day parade, ready to meet voters at an annual outdoor chicken cookout called the “Chic Nic.” Although the event was hosted by the local Republican Party, Zimdars was far from nervous being behind enemy lines. He was eager.
The county flipped from blue to red in 2016, Zimdars noted, which meant it could flip again. Plus, national Democrats had done him a favor: They chose former Vice President Joe Biden for the top of their ticket.
“Biden comes across as someone who’s moderate and has experience on both sides of the aisle,” Zimdars said. “My close family and friends, who are a little more on the Republican side of the fence, said if Biden became the nominee, they would vote for him.”
Such persuasion is at the core of Biden’s campaign strategy, designed to bring together moderates, older adults, working-class voters across races and former supporters of President Donald Trump. The approach has helped him jump out to an early lead in polling, both in national surveys and in swing states like Wisconsin, where Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. It has also helped Biden fend off attacks from Trump, who has sought to cast Biden as a radical progressive despite his lengthy career as a moderate lawmaker.
But if Biden hopes to maintain his advantage as November draws near, Wisconsin Democrats like Zimdars have some advice, akin to the famous medical principle of “do no harm” or the cautionary words of the hit HBO series “The Wire”: “Keep it boring.”
Being politically milquetoast is Biden’s appeal, they said, driving his ability to attract progressives in Milwaukee, moderates in suburbs like Waukesha and more rural voters in places like Adams County, one of the 22 counties in the state that voted for Trump after backing President Barack Obama in 2012.
After the 2016 election, Clinton was lambasted for running a risk-averse campaign that seemed to rely on voters finding Trump’s conduct inherently repugnant. Four years later, facing a changed electoral landscape, many Wisconsin Democrats think Biden can win the state with that exact playbook.
Biden is “the perfect candidate for this area at this time,” said Matt Mareno, chair of the Waukesha Democratic Party.
“Trump’s whole rallying cry was that he was an outsider coming to fix the establishment, and now he is the establishment,” Mareno said.“We’re seeing more and more college-educated white voters leaving him, and we’re seeing more seniors leave him. We’re seeing that coalition just completely dissolved down to the very core base of his support.”
文／Astead W. Herndon 譯／陳韋廷 核稿／樂慧生
美國總統大選倒數不到百日，拜登目前在多數搖擺州的民調都贏過川普，搖擺州英文除swing state之外，還有battleground state（戰場州）或purple state（紫色州）的說法，這些州的swing voter（搖擺選民、中間選民）常扮演影響選舉結果的關鍵角色，紫色州指兩黨候選人得票率很接近的州，紫色是代表共和黨的紅色與民主黨代表色藍色混合後的顏色，與搖擺州相對的則是safe state（安全州）。
至於同黨同志建議拜登可作為選戰策略的醫學原則do no harm，來自西方醫學之父希波克拉底所寫醫師誓詞第一條，意指「以不傷害病人為前提」，可引伸為inaction，即「不作為、冷處理，避免扣分」之意。
另外，both sides of the aisle為一美國政治術語，在新聞英文中很常見，指的是民主與共和兩黨，而milquetoast則源自美國連環漫畫中一個溫順而膽小人物的名字，因此衍生出「膽小、意志薄弱者」的意思。