The major gaffe that could sink Biden’s presidency bid
Joe Biden is in a world of pain with a week to go to the election and polls tightening. Every time he ventures outside his basement, truckloads of cheerful Trump supporters show up waving flags and chanting "Four More Years".
He became so exasperated by their exuberance in Pennsylvania on the weekend that he called them "chumps", which quickly became the new "deplorables" of 2020.
Then there is the matter of his wayward son Hunter's abandoned MacBook, which President Trump calls "the laptop from hell" because it links Biden to his family's influence peddling schemes overseas.
Worst of all, Biden made the mother of all electoral gaffes when he admitted at last week's presidential debate that he would kill off, or "transition" out of, the oil industry in order to dial down the planet's thermostat.
"The oil industry pollutes, significantly," he said. "It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time".
This Gillardesque comment, since amplified on giant screens by Trump at every rally, will probably sink Biden in the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania, where he was born 78 years ago next month, and which he has tried to claim as his own.
Not only is oil and gas the lifeblood of the state, but unlike some other states, Pennsylvania hasn't embraced early voting.
Only 22 per cent of voters had cast a ballot by the time Biden put his foot in his mouth, and you can bet his threat to their jobs will boost turnout on election day.
It probably boosted turnout at Saturday's "Trump train", a grassroots parade of Trump supporters who pile into pickup trucks, farm vehicles, cars and the odd Harley to drive through the Ohio valley rust belt, from Ohio to West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.
Last weekend's road rally had doubled in size from last month to about 2000 vehicles, all festooned with Trump-Pence 2020 regalia and American flags and blaring the Village People.
Biden's flip-flopping on fracking has hurt him as well. During primary season he was recorded saying he would ban the industry only later to deny he said any such thing.
America became energy independent last year, meaning it now produces more energy than it uses, thanks in large part to fracking in states like Pennsylvania. This is a double bonus, with cheap and abundant energy for Americans and the end of their reliance on Middle Eastern oil with its incentive for disastrous wars in the region.
Trump is the first president in 39 years who hasn't embroiled the country in a foreign war, which wins him additional points in those parts of Middle America whose sons and daughters bore the brunt of military adventures.
It's not just the oil states where Biden's war on fossil fuels is electorally damaging, says Florida political consultant Albert Marko, a former pollster who advises hedge funds and predicted Trump's 2016 victory
While most of the published polls have consistently pointed to a crushing Biden victory, Marko sees Trump repeating his 2016 performance this year.
He calculates Trump will lose the popular vote again but win the electoral college with 306 votes to Biden's 232, scooping up the top battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Arizona.
It's seldom mentioned, but in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, there are 100,000 farms producing corn for ethanol, whose price is linked to oil.
Biden's war on oil turns out to be a war on corn which would threaten the prosperity of Midwestern farmers and the rural communities which rely on them.
Trump, by contrast, has delivered policies which increased the price of ethanol by 20 per cent just in the past month.
While Fran Coombs, managing editor of Rasmussen polls, sees the numbers this year as very similar to 2016, when Hillary Clinton and Trump were neck and neck to the end.
After trailing Biden by as much as 12 points in Rasmussen's daily national poll, Trump pulled ahead by one point yesterday. The margin of error is 2.5 per cent, but the trajectory is in the right direction.
Coombs says Florida, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina and Ohio are too close to call.
His polls find Trump is the most important issue on the ballot, followed closely by the economy.
"The level of Trump hatred is mind boggling," he says.
As a result, the "shy" Trump vote is up, with Republicans 10-15 points less likely than Democrats to divulge their voting intentions.
Coombs suspects some Trump voters also are deliberately misleading pollsters.
Marko says the economy still is the No.1 issue for voters.
An NBC/WSJ poll earlier this month found Trump leading Biden on the "better dealing with the economy" question 48-41.
"The [Democrats'] strategy to only use COVID response against Trump's economy was an absolute disaster … as people vote with their pay cheque and rarely ideology.
"The fear inducing lockdowns have run their course, as the public is desperate for normalcy."
In his latest election analysis for clients this week, Marko also points to a "collapse" in Biden's support among Latinos and Black males.
"The statistics from early voting have shown a drop in the African American turnout in key Democratic stronghold counties in Michigan and Pennsylvania with further evidence of Black males supporting Trump more than [they did] in 2016.
"I cannot stress how this, along with a collapse of non-Mexican Latino vote, makes Biden's chances of winning this election minimal at best," he says.
While President Trump has been barnstorming battleground states, doing up to three packed airport rallies a day, Biden has largely stayed in his basement, avoiding questions, since Hunter's laptop made the front page of the New York Post 10 days ago.
But the former vice president must be under pressure to hit the campaign trail. He's going to Georgia today, Florida on Thursday and a record two states on Friday, Iowa and Wisconsin.
He might have to take the weekend off to recover!
Miranda Devine is in New York for 18 months to cover current affairs for The Daily Telegraph
Originally published as The major gaffe that could sink Biden's presidency bid