Underestimating Biden: Trump’s Grave Mistake

How Trump’s campaign strategy backfired and cost him re-election.


Michael Toscano

In this recent tweet, Donald Trump falsely claimed that he won the 2020 presidential election. Trump has become increasingly unhinged on Twitter since the Presidential Election was called for Joe Biden. Ben Zakharov ’21 described Trump’s recent tweets as “dangerous for the future of our democracy and election systems.”

Sleepy Joe Biden: This is a nickname you have definitely heard in recent months and one that I can guarantee still lives rent-free in your head. When incumbent President Donald Trump had to come up with a catchy nickname for his opponent Joe Biden, he did not have much material to go off of. Biden had stayed fairly controversy-free throughout his four-decade-long political career and was a very well respected figure. Evidently, when thinking of derogatory names to label Joe Biden with, as he had previously done to politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and others, it is humorous that the best the President could come up with was sleepy. Don’t get me wrong, at 78 years young, I am sure that Joe Biden enjoys a good nap, but in terms of nicknames, it was relatively weak.

With the nickname Sleepy Joe, Trump seemed to be insinuating that Biden did not have the energy to be the President of the United States. The Trump campaign began flooding the airwaves with ads of times during which Biden lost his train of thought, briefly closed his eyes, or stuttered. By now, most people are aware of Biden’s stutter, but to the Trump campaign, his lifelong struggle was the smoking gun in their newly crafted conspiracy. The Trump campaign compiled all of Biden’s worst moments, just to package them into videos with music that made them sound more like horror movie trailers than traditional political advertisements.

After a while, the Trump campaign must have deemed these advertisements as ineffective because their message on Biden changed drastically overnight. Suddenly, Biden who was once merely tired was now losing his mind. The Trump campaign was quick to pivot to this new attack using the same footage of Biden’s gaffes but instead claiming that they proved he was suffering from cognitive decline. He perpetuated the falsehood that Biden was suffering from dementia and could not speak for himself. This was a claim that was propagated constantly by the Trump administration in advertisements and mentioned by Trump himself almost daily. Ben Zakharov ’21 said, “I think Trump truly believed that what he was saying about Biden was true.”

During this time, Biden was holding frequent campaign events and proved that he had no problem speaking for himself. Rather than accepting the fact that Biden had no cognitive decline, the Trump campaign went deeper into their conspiracy, claiming that Biden must have been taking performance-enhancing drugs or using an earpiece whenever he spoke eloquently at a campaign event. The Trump campaign concocted and stuck with their baseless conspiracy about Biden, even when it was blatantly proven false. This was not surprising in the least, as it is far from the first time they have dabbled in conspiracies. 

This conspiracy reached its peak the night of the debate. Trump had been misjudging Biden for so long, that I think even he truly believed that it would be a sweep for him. However, this could not be further from the truth. Rather than being subdued by Trump, Biden held his own at the first debate and did not cave to Trump’s constant interruptions. Biden stayed on message and remained calm, even when the president took very low blows like insulting his deceased son, Beau Biden. When the debate became hectic, Biden spoke directly to the American people, underscoring the absurdity of the exchange. “Most of all, the debate revealed Biden’s decency and intelligence, and Trump’s glaring incompetence,” said Zakharov.

After the debate, the attacks on Biden’s cognitive health no longer had any merit. Over 73 Million Americans, both Democrat and Republican, had now seen with their own eyes that Joe Biden was a capable and seasoned debater. The idea that Joe Biden was suffering from cognitive decline died that night, and the Trump campaign began to mention it less and less. This might also have been because the Trump campaign suddenly had to focus on more pressing issues, such as their dire financial situation.

Like his casinos, Trump’s campaign also managed to go bankrupt in record time. They had raised over $1.6 billion at the outset of the campaign and amazingly managed to blow through it all in less than a year. Suddenly, they were forced to pull television ads off of the air from every swing state except Florida. The campaign was also wasting the little money that they had left on advertisements in democratic strongholds such as New York and California. When asked about this, Ben Zakharov said, “It was hard to find the logic behind Trump’s actions during this time.” I could not agree more, and looking back, this was the beginning of the end for Trump.

Election day has now passed, and we now have a president-elect Joe Biden. In the end, Trump’s campaign was just not effective enough to give him a second term. In retrospect, Trump underestimating Joe Biden was undoubtedly the biggest mistake of his campaign. Discounting Joe Biden as a threat severely backfired on Trump, and allowed Biden to continuously exceed the low expectations set for him. In part, this helped Biden to gain and maintain a steady lead over Trump for most of the campaign. Trump actually began to believe his own lies and felt like he was coasting to a victory, but the American people had other plans. 

Not surprisingly, Trump is now in denial about the election results, falsely claiming that he won the election by “A LOT!”. It is like Trump is unable to accept that he lost the election to a man who he for so long viewed as weak. When asked about the president’s denial of his win, Joe Biden simply said “The people of this nation have spoken.” In stark contrast to the president’s denial, Joe Biden has kicked off the presidential transition process with a bang, and already appointed a task force who, starting at noon on January 20th, 2021, will work to finally get the Coronavirus pandemic under control.

It would seem, the era of Trump has finally come to an end.

“The people of this nation have spoken.” – President Elect Joe Biden