Part of the explanation is that the focus on eye-popping evidence of impeachable conduct has put the spotlight where it should be, right on President Trump. Approval for the inquiry and for impeachment and removal continue to rise. A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday finds that 55 percent approve of the inquiry and just 43 percent disapprove. That is up from 51/45 percent last week.
Critical independent voters favor the inquiry by over 20 points (58 percent to 37 percent) Moreover, “Nearly half of registered voters, 48 percent, say President Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 46 percent say he should not. Last week, 46 percent supported impeachment while 48 percent were opposed.” Here independents narrowly approval of removal by a 48 percent to 42 percent margin. All of these results occurred before the latest blockbuster testimony from William B. Taylor Jr. And Trump’s approval seems to be dropping (“President Trump’s job approval rating has dipped below 40 percent for the first time since the impeachment inquiry began as 38 percent say they approve of the job he is doing, and 58 percent disapprove”) as the Democratic primary contenders are unified in their support for impeachment.
Turning to Biden specifically, the latest CNN poll, showing him leading with 34 percent, may be an outlier, so it will be necessary to await further polling. (Two other polls released today have Biden at 27 percent, leading Warren by six points in one and eight points in the other.) Overall Biden’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average over Warren has expanded as Warren has dropped a couple of points this month. One nugget from CNN’s poll should encourage Biden: "Biden and Sanders do their best in the primary among voters who say they are certain of their vote choice, while Warren voters are much more likely to say they may change their mind.”
In the midst of the absolute chaos Trump has created in Syria and the revelations of the extent to which he has corrupted and deformed U.S. foreign policy, Biden might have an edge. Unlike Warren, who expressed support for bringing home all the troops (at least the combat ones), Biden sounds a more mature and balanced tone. Last week in Iowa, he blasted Trump on foreign policy. The Associated Press reported:
Biden used a 40-minute speech in Iowa to excoriate Trump for withdrawing American forces and leaving Syrian Kurds, key U.S. allies in the yearslong fight against the Islamic State group, open to attacks from Turkey.“It’s more insidious than the betrayal of our brave Kurdish partners; it’s more dangerous than taking the boot off the neck of ISIS,” the former vice president said. “Trump is demolishing the moral authority of the United States of America” while emboldening U.S. adversaries, including Russia and Iran.
Trump’s many foreign policy missteps make Biden’s experience as vice president and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman an even more valuable asset. (“ ‘There’s not going to be time to build relationships from scratch,’ [Biden] said, adding that he can ‘pick up the phone, call our NATO allies, know them by their first name.’ ”)
This echoed his performance in the debate last Tuesday. “I would not have withdrawn the troops and I would not have withdrawn the additional thousand troops who are in Iraq, which are in retreat now, being fired on by Assad’s people,” he said. “And the president of the United States saying, if those ISIS folks escape from the prisons they’re in, they’ll only go to Europe and won’t affect us. It has been the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history.” He added, “I’ve spent many hours on the ground in those very places, in Syria and in Iraq, and guess what? Our commanders across the board, former and present, are ashamed of what’s happening here.”
In sum, while conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy does not matter in presidential elections nearly as much as domestic issues, when we are in the middle of a preventable debacle in Syria and we are learning how Trump has wrecked our foreign policy, it would not be unreasonable for voters, even Democratic primary voters, to support someone who sounds as though he knows what is going on and can help us on the world stage.