17:30 GMT23 November 2020
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    With the re-energised US president closing the polling gap on challenger Joe Biden and turnout at the Democrat's rallies embarrassingly low, his campaign has played the Obama card in a bid to trump Trump - but will it work?

    What will it take to stop Donald Trump from being re-elected as president of the USA?

    Recent polls giving Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden a two-digit lead and even a bout of coronavirus don't seem to have slowed the sitting president down. In fact he seems rejuvenated and supremely confident, dancing like your dad to 'YMCA' by The Village People on stage at 10,000-strong rallies.

    By contrast, Biden looks tired, confused and grumpy. His few socially-distanced campaign stops have struggled to draw crowds of more than a hundred.

    So this week the Democrats wheeled out their golden child, their talismanic leader Barack Obama, to try and carry his doddering former vice-president over the finishing line. His first gig was this week in Philadelphia, the biggest city in the key swing state of Pennsylvania - where Biden was born and where Trump won in 2016.

    “We cannot be complacent, I don't care about the polls," Obama said, "We can’t just imagine a better future, we have to fight for it, we have to outwork the other side, we have to out-hustle the other side. Vote like never before and leave no doubt."

    Obama's grand return at the Philly rally on Wednesday was definitely bigger than Biden's October 12 appearance at the United Auto Workers union local in in Toledo, Ohio. More than 300 cars turned up in the parking lot, according to the campaign team, compared to just 30 in Ohio, where they were outnumbered by a pro-Trump counter-protest. 

    But compare that to the rock concert-style image of a black DEMOCRAT state legislator Vernon Jones crowd-surfing over a sea of 7,000 red MAGA-hatted Trump fans outside Macon, Georgia, a city with a population less than a twentieth of the the Philly metro area. There's something happening here, indeed.

    ​Winning back the swingers

    It may not chime with the Democrat's "basket of deplorables" narrative about Trump's supporters, but The Donald won in 2016 in large part thanks to the votes of people who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012. 

    Democrats are hoping Obama's return to the scene - coupled with the nostalgia factor of running his old VP for president - may help win some of them back.

    "The Obama-Trump voter is going to make the difference in this election," said former Biden staffer Moe Vela in May. "Joe Biden gives them a chance to come back."

    And Obama's presence on the campaign trail could help Biden simply by motivating Democrat supporters who might otherwise not bother to vote.

    Another factor could be Trump's long-running dislike of his predecessor, which saw the billionaire property tycoon repeatedly demand the publication of Obama's birth certificate as proof of his right to serve as president - Only to be publicly ridiculed by the then incumbent.

    "I would be hard pressed to think of another individual who gets under Donald Trump's skin more than Barack Obama," said Kelly Dietrich, CEO of the National Democratic Training Committee.

    Trump certainly couldn't help mentioning Obama at a rally in Gastonia, North Carolina on Wednesday night, stressing that the former president's help had failed to win the 2016 race for Clinton

    "You know Obama's now campaigning. Oh, here we go," he said. "There was nobody that campaigned harder for Crooked Hillary Clinton than Obama. He was all over the place."

    "The only one more unhappy than Crooked Hillary that night was Barack Hussein Obama," Trump added.

    But nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Biden's apparent strength in that regard is also a weakness. Both Trump and Obama were elected on the promise of radical change. Biden, the 77-year-old career politician first elected to the Senate in 1973, is promising to turn the clock back to the Obama era - which saw the credit crunch, the great bank bailout and even more overseas wars - and defend the status quo tooth and nail.

    Dancing around the polls

    Biden's apparent poll advantage of around ten per cent nationwide is shrinking as election day approaches. 

    On Wednesday Rasmussen Reports said Biden's lead had shrunk to a mere three points over Trump among 'likely' voters. On Tuesday, Investor's Business Daily had it even closer at 48.1 per cent to 45.8.

    Just remember for a moment that Hillary Clinton had a three-point poll lead the day before Trump's landslide victory in 2016.

    Biden's apparent lead is belied by pollster Gallup's findings that 56 per cent of Americans think they're better off now during the coronavirus crisis than under the last Obama administration - prompting a meltdown from Biden - and the same number think Trump will win the election.

    But national polls mean little in US presidential races, where the electoral college system means a few swing voters in a few swing states decide who rules for the next four years. We need to look at state-by-state surveys.

    A University of North Florida poll published on Tuesday put Trump just one percentage point behind Biden in the southern state, which is seen as a must-win for Republicans. the Trafalgar Group, which correctly predicted Trump's win over Hillary Clinton in 2016, gave the president a lead of over two points in the Sunshine State last week.


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