Joe Biden
Credit: Office of Senator Chris Murphy/Wikimedia Commons

In 2016, both the Sanders and Trump campaigns promoted the idea that large crowds at their rallies were an indicator of the level of enthusiasm they were receiving from voters. Of course, Sanders went on to lose the primary and although Trump eked out a victory in the electoral college, he lost the popular vote by three million. All of that happened in a year when pundits had decided that populist anger was the theme of that election.

On Saturday, Sanders supporter Michael Moore took to Facebook before Trump’s rally in Tulsa to issue this warning.

They started lining up on Tues in Tulsa for Trump’s rally today. 100,000 are expected! Trump has lost none of his base and they are more rabid than ever. Sleeping on the sidewalk for five nights just to get in to see Trump? THAT is commitment. Do not take Trump for granted. Don’t think he can’t win…If you are once again not taking my warnings seriously, then I have a question I want you to answer, and I ask you to answer me honestly:

“How many people would line up for five days just to hear Joe Biden talk?”…

Don’t think we don’t have a problem here. Don’t get all smug laughing at these Bubbas in Tulsa today & snickering over how many of them are going to come down with Covid-19. They live, eat and breathe Trump — and none of us do that with Joe Biden.

We now know that, according to official estimates, only about 6,200 people showed up for Trump’s rally in Tulsa. Here is why that most likely happened.

Those numbers from a Fox News poll show that only 45 percent of Trump supporters think rallies are a good idea during a pandemic. Conversely, a majority of them at least have questions about the president’s claims that gathering in large groups is nothing to worry about. In other words, they’re not completely buying his lies—at least when their own health is on the line.

Following the rally in Tulsa, Moore had to adjust his narrative a bit. But it’s worth exploring his claim that voter enthusiasm is the critical ingredient in presidential elections. The first thing to keep in mind is that an enthusiastic vote doesn’t count any more than a more complacent vote. So does it make a difference if Biden’s most loyal supporters aren’t willing to line up for five days just to hear him talk?

We now know that Trump was never really a populist and that his message was aimed at inflaming the politics of grievance. It is also clear that he is attempting to go back to that same well in 2020. The challenge he faces is how to play the role of outsider after being in office for four years. Charles Hurt thinks that’s a slam dunk for Trump, given who Democrats chose to be his opponent.

The problem is how long [Biden] has been in Washington. Or, as Mr. Trump described it, “four decades of betrayal, calamity and failure.”…

So, today, in his 78th year, his party finally gives him the shot they have denied him for 30 years. And off they lead him to slaughter.

It is so ugly. And so Washington. But if anybody should know this wicked ritual, it is Joe Biden. He has been sloshing around in the fetid swamp longer than anybody.

It is true that voters have typically been drawn to candidates who don’t have long records of service in Washington. But while Republicans will attempt to act like Biden is some kind of pariah now that he is the nominee, they’ve already gone on record to praise him.

But perhaps what is more important than what Republican Senators think of Joe Biden is the question about what voters are looking for in 2020. While the most rabid Trump supporters are probably still looking for someone to stoke the fires of their grievances, I would suggest that the majority of the rest of us are simply exhausted from four years of lying and bullying—not to mention incompetence.

This might be the year when voters decide that experience actually matters. Not only are people ready for a president who is capable of empathy and the ability to put the country over his personal interests, Donald Trump’s successor is going to have to rebuild the entire federal government from the ground up. No one in politics is better prepared to do that than Joe Biden. That’s why being ready on day one is perhaps his most powerful campaign theme.

Biden is the antithesis of Trump in ways that matter most. This isn’t likely to be an election dominated by anger or grievance. I suspect that voters are tired of the chaos and are looking for a president who simply knows how to get the job done.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.