SOUTH BEND – There is a strong possibility that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. That’s NOT a prediction. Just saying it’s a strong possibility.

Virtually all the polls, nationwide and in key battleground states, show Biden ahead and gaining strength. President Trump, though keeping his solid base, is faltering with important segments of voters registering disapproval of his response to the pandemic and protests.

But I’m certainly not ready to predict that President Trump will lose to Biden this November. I steer away from predictions. The last time I wrote a flat-out political prediction was decades ago. I went out on the limb to predict that “Bob” would be elected mayor of Mishawaka. The nominees were Bob Beutter and Bob Nagle.

The election is nearly five months away. It’s impossible even to guess all that could happen before we vote. Who five months ago would have guessed that the nation now would be talking about a coronavirus, George Floyd, a plunge into recession and a presidential pose with a Bible in front of a boarded-up church near the White House?

Still, there’s a trend, a strong trend leading to a strong possibility of a President Biden.

The presidential election is for the Democrats to lose. Never underestimate their ability to do so. Democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of presidential victory in 2016.

Some defected to a Green Party candidate in key states, helping to elect a president who then withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord. Some stayed home, angry that Bernie Sanders wasn’t the Democratic nominee and helping someone else to stay in a house, the White House. Some, disgusted with the way things were in Washington, decided they wanted somebody to tear the place apart. They perhaps wish now that they didn’t get their wish.

Danger signs are there amidst the favorable polls for Biden. Some progressives say they can’t support Biden if he doesn’t switch to a Sanders type progressive agenda.

Some more moderate Democrats and independents say they can’t support him if he does. Some blacks say they will lose enthusiasm for Biden is he doesn’t pick a black for vice president.

Some protesters, although doing so much to focus national attention on the way George Floyd was killed – those horrible, inexcusable eight minutes and 46 seconds of torture and death – played into the hands of the “law and order president” by shouting a demand to defund or disband the police.

Biden, joined by party leaders and protest leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Congressman Jim Clyburn, said no to defunding. Reform police practices, they said. No choke holds. Budget priorities to stress prevention. “We need the police. We want the police,” Clyburn said. “Let’s not get so carried way that we allow sloganeering to hijack this movement.”

Well, we do need police in South Bend, when at least 322 shots were fired last weekend in gun incidents in which five people, including a 13-year-old kid, were wounded. We need them in Chicago, in New York, in any city where anarchy is not the answer. The answer is in legislation for reform that Clyburn is pushing for in Congress.

Danger for Biden also looms if he promises too much. He can’t guarantee, and neither can Clyburn, that a police reform bill with any teeth will pass now in Congress and be signed into law by President Trump. That isn’t going to happen. A step in that direction? Maybe.

Joining in sloganeering that promises too much or calls for things that could be popular in New York but not with voters in a key state like Michigan is a danger. Promises and slogans that will be perfect for tweets from the White House will help the president extend his stay there. 

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.