The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Things are looking good for Biden. But things could change in an instant.

Former vice president Joe Biden speaks from his home about George Floyd's death and the protests in Minnesota on May 29.
Former vice president Joe Biden speaks from his home about George Floyd's death and the protests in Minnesota on May 29. (Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post)

Current national polls are looking good for former vice president Joe Biden. But the old cliche “overnight is a lifetime in politics” contains a bit of truth.

There are more than 80 nights until Election Day, Nov. 3. That’s enough time for President Trump, a menace to public health and economic revival, to go all out to destroy a Biden candidacy.

In his nearly 50 years of public service, Biden probably has never encountered an opponent like Trump. Just as the country has never had a president so void of moral sense, so unconcerned with the rightness and wrongness of his actions or possible consequences of his rhetoric.

On Thursday, Trump claimed Biden would: “Take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God.” It is fresh, and a perfect example of Trump playing with fire.

Historian Carol Anderson traces the evolution of voter suppression tactics — from poll taxes to poll closures — and argues they are all rooted in White rage. (Video: The Washington Post)

That leads to two chief concerns.

Heading down the stretch, Biden’s security should be tightened.

I know Biden has full Secret Service protection, an agency without equal.

This is not to suggest that Trump wants any harm to come to Biden. But this campaign presents an element of danger seldom encountered in a presidential race: a president whose words and deeds have been repeatedly invoked by bigots, haters and purveyors of violence.

Such incidents are plainly documented in official police and court records.

A nationwide review conducted by ABC News in May identified at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was cited in connection with violent acts, threats or assault allegations. (They are acting in his name, not at his direction.)

“This is for Trump,” said the White man who punched a Latino gas station attendant in the head in Gainesville, Fla., according to the victim.

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A Washington state man was questioned by police about threats to kill a local Syrian-born man. The suspect told police he wanted the victim “out of my country.” He added: “That’s why I like Trump.”

ABC News recounted that in “at least 12 cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically assaulting innocent victims. In another 18 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.”

ABC said the perpetrators and suspects identified in the 54 cases were “mostly white men — as young as teenagers and as old as 75 — while the victims largely represent an array of minority groups — African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men.”

ABC is not alone. Last year, the Guardian detailed 52 incidents of threats or violence committed in Trump’s name since his campaign launch in 2015.

But don’t take chances. Double down on Biden’s security.

Next, the Biden campaign must ensure that the more than 65 million Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Democrats in battleground states who skipped over her name, will come out in the fall.

Much is being made of Biden’s potential reach into demographics Trump captured in 2016 — in particular, White working-class women and men. But they are not the largest share of the electorate.

Biden must take care to hold on to blocs that support him: young voters of color, especially Blacks; women, especially unmarried women of all hues; college-educated voters; moderates and progressives.

These will be targets of the Trump campaign’s voter-suppression strategy.

Some tactics will be easily identified. The effort to discourage mail-in voting — in the middle of a pandemic, no less — is well underway. Republican tactics such as voter purges and restrictive ID laws have been around for years.

Regardless which woman Biden’s chooses as his running mate, there will be Trump-campaign-inspired gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. If she is Black? “Shame of it all, White and non-Black candidates were doomed by the color of their skin.” If she is not Black: “Biden has dissed Black womanhood in ways never to be undone.” Either way, expect Trump to bewail that which he never would have done — put a woman on his ticket.

There will also be efforts to draw Black votes from Biden.

Case in point: Kanye West’s presidential bid. Get this: A lawyer who has represented the Trump campaign has filed signatures to get West on the Wisconsin ballot. A former executive director of the American Conservative Union and longtime Republican operative is West’s campaign’s contact in Arkansas. A Vermont Republican is named as a possible electoral college elector for both Trump and West. A West elector in Missouri is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Another voter-suppression ploy: hundreds — maybe more — fake Facebook accounts from a foreign troll farm pretending to be Trump’s African American supporters. The accounts, billed as “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump” and “We Love Our President,” were traced to Romania. (Luckily, Facebook recently shut them down.)

Russians resorted to the same sleazy scheme against Clinton in 2016.

Every non-vote for Biden is a vote for Trump.

It worked four years ago. “They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African American community,” taunted Trump at a mostly White post-election rally in Hershey, Pa., in December 2016.

There are more shenanigans at work to gum up the elections process.

The Biden family ought to set aside any thought of measuring for drapes in the White House. Political wickedness is loose in the land.

Read more from Colbert King’s archive.

Read more:

Max Boot: What will Trump do to win? Here are nine possible October surprises — and one November surprise.

The Post’s View: President Trump wants to undermine the election. Here’s one way to stop him.

Karen Tumulty: Biden’s VP should be prepared for an onslaught of online misogyny unlike anything seen before

Paul Waldman: Trump’s voter suppression effort has devolved into farce

Marc A. Thiessen: Mail-in voting could accidentally disenfranchise millions of voters

Jennifer Rubin: Trump’s desperate attacks are revealing the scam Republicans have been pulling for years