Kudos to Joe Biden for already fulfilling his one and only campaign promise: He’s not Donald Trump. Problem is, a four-year term awaits with no mandate for change.

That’s the price for conducting one of the most negative campaigns in American history. It’s not that Biden was nasty – though calling the president a “racist” and a “clown” at the first debate was downright Trumpian. It’s that he ran as the Candidate of Not. He was not Trump. He was not a radical leftist. He was not against fracking, not against the police, not a supporter of antifa – except when he was, which took us into the realm of the double negative campaign.

He pursued that strategy while not really running for office, hunkering down in his Delaware basement. This helps explain a recent Morning Consult poll that found that 44% of his supporters said they were chiefly voting against Trump.

It also illuminates Biden’s surprising lack of coattails, as Democrats lost House seats and Republicans held their own in legislative races as an expected blue wave turned a reddish purple.

Campaigning as the Candidate of Not will make it hard to govern a third term of Yes We Can! The question that has dogged Biden throughout his 47-year career – what, if anything, does the guy stand for? – remains.

Of course, Biden will claim a mandate as he pushes Democratic Party plans for higher taxes, greater regulation, and a lead-from-behind foreign policy. But this effort will be complicated by the fact that while more than half the nation found Trump’s personality repulsive, his policies were relatively popular. Domestic initiatives that spurred the economy and an aggressive posture abroad that confronted our enemies while demanding more from our allies are the main reasons Trump was favored to win a second term before COVID-19 emerged.