Is Joe Biden the John Belushi of the Democratic Party?

One day before the 2014 midterm elections, things aren't looking too bright for the Democrats. What's the solution? Send in Joe Biden!

L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun/AP
Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a rally in support of Nevada Democrats at the Plumbers and Pipefitters Joint UA Local 525 in Las Vegas Saturday.

Election Day is looming and your party lags in the polls. You’re likely to lose the Senate and lots of seats in the House as well. Party workers are tired and discouraged and thinking of curling up with Netflix and a half gallon of ice cream on Tuesday, instead of voting. Who’re you gonna call to rally the troops?

Two words: Joe Biden.

That’s right, the Vice President of the United States. With Democrats on the verge of a possibly deflating vote, Mr. Biden played the role of defiant cheerleader this weekend. He sat down with CNN’s Gloria Borger and said he’s not buying all those forecasts that show the GOP making big gains.

“I don’t agree with the odds makers,” said Biden. “I predict we’re going to, we’re going to keep the Senate.”

OK, so Joe was not as worked up as John Belushi in his famous “Animal House” speech. (“Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? [Expletive] no!”) But Biden is an experienced politician and he knows you’ve got to run all the way to the finish line. There’s lots still at stake for the Democrats, from down-ballot state and local races heavily affected by turnout, to such tight contests as Georgia Senate, which might still break the Democratic candidate’s way.

Somebody has to express optimism until the end. President Obama’s not a good messenger this cycle, given his low approval ratings. That leaves Biden – and Biden, unlike his boss, has spent lots of time on the road campaigning this midterm season.

His folksy motormouth style lends itself to campaigning. After all, this is a guy who was himself elected to the Senate six times. In 2014 he’s campaigned for 66 different Democratic candidates or party entities, according to figures obtained by Yahoo News. He’s attended 70 events in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

“The question for Biden is whether his all-out campaigning will secure Democratic victories, which in turn could aid a still-hypothetical run for the top job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” writes Yahoo’s Olivier Knox.

Does Biden really think he can pull the Democrats back into Senate power via sheer will and lots of words? Almost certainly not. The VP gets a news summary every morning and the numbers are daunting at the moment – the Vox average of major forecasts puts the chances of a GOP takeover at 76 percent.

In other parts of this weekend’s CNN interview, Biden let slip some sentiments that made it seem as if he’s resigned to the coming new reality. Asked if the White House is going to have to change the way it does business, Biden said, “Look, we’re ready to compromise.”

As to the running-for-president-himself part of this equation, Biden said he’s still making up his mind. But the 2016 campaign will shift into a higher gear on Wednesday, the day after the 2014 campaign ends. The VP is reaching the point where a “maybe” increasingly looks like a “yes.” By not ruling a race out, Biden keeps his friends and fundraisers frozen in place, unable to commit to another (Hillary) candidate. It won’t be long until many of them pressure him to fish or cut the demurrals.

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