Former Vice President Joe Biden is currently leading all the early polls of Democratic primary voters. He’s got support across the party, he’s got the highest name recognition of the entire field, and he’s poised to start the nomination race with fully one-third of Democratic voters behind him. Sounds like he’s set up for a real chance at taking it all the way in 2020 and becoming the Democratic nominee, right?

Well, maybe, and maybe not. Biden has strengths, he has that connection with people most politicians only dream of. Yes, he makes blunders, but in the age of Trump, we’ve learned that it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Just don’t take Biden’s thoughts as legal advice or you may still end up convicted of a crime trying to use the “Biden shotgun defense” in court.

Does Age Matter?

At 76 years old, Biden is no spring chicken. Some may argue that Donald Trump is older, too, and that’s true. However, Trump was only 70 when he was elected in 2016. Biden is many years past that point and would be pushing 79 years old by the time his potential inauguration rolled around in January of 2021.

Age seems to matter less nowadays, especially as Democratic voters were enamored with Bernie Sanders at 75 years old in 2016. The point with Biden’s age is that it’s now or never. If he has any aspiration left to become President, now is the time to do it. By 2024, he’ll be too far into his 80s to mount a serious challenge. Health issues alone could sideline him.

Working Class Appeal

Along with Biden’s ability to connect with his voters, he’s got a natural connection to the same base of voters that Donald Trump did well with in 2016. Biden can go places like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio, and relay the story of his blue-collar upbringing in Scranton, PA, where his father struggled to make ends meet, eventually moving the family to Delaware in 1953.

Biden plays it up well, almost eerily similar to the way Trump does. He’s proud of being “unsophisticated” and brash even if the hoity-toitys in Washington don’t like it. He’ll speak it the way he feels it. Biden, in some ways, is the Democratic counterbalance to Donald Trump. Willing to be outlandish to attract headlines when he wants to, and willing to scrap with policy wonks, like Paul Ryan, to win a debate with style over┬ásubstance.

Future of the Democratic Party

It’s hard to argue, however, that Joe Biden represents the future of the Democratic Party. Appealing to blue-collar white voters in the rust belt is just not what the party stands for any longer. Perhaps the last serious Democratic President to do so was Bill Clinton.

In 2008, the party was remade by Barack Obama into a coastal party attracting young voters and minorities. The “Obama coalition,” as it was. It’s true, these voters did vote for Joe Biden on the ticket, but that was immaterial since the top of the ticket was Obama.

Biden has support now, among the early polls, but would that support last into the primary season? Would Democratic voters decide that maybe they don’t want to put up an older white guy to counter the older white guy currently in the White House? Maybe they want to put up a younger candidate, a female candidate, or a younger female minority candidate? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s worth asking the question whether Biden, despite this early support, is simply outdated for the party of Obama despite being part of the Obama-revolution within the party.

Nothing to Lose

Ultimately, I don’t think Joe Biden has anything to lose if he runs in 2020. Even if his support wanes, or he’s simply not catching on, he can say he tried and has decided that he’d rather pass the baton and support the eventual nominee. It wouldn’t be what he wants, but I don’t think he’d be diminished by it.

As a recent CNN article explains, Biden is in a very strong position, and there’d be no reason for him to let it slip by. He’s got support from Democratic voters that goes beyond name recognition. His favorability numbers among Democrats are very high meaning that voters tend to like him beyond just knowing his name.

Perhaps the biggest qualification, and possibly the only thing that will matter to Democrats, is that he polls very well against Donald Trump. According to the CNN piece, “Iowa Democrats by a 54% to 40% margin think it’s more important for Democrats to nominate someone who can beat Trump than someone who shares their ideology.” That alone puts Biden at the top of the field since he consistently beats Trump in head-to-head polling matchups.

Conclusion

After exploring this topic, it seems like there are more items in the “pro” column than the “con” column when the question is asked about whether Biden should run in 2020. The downside is small, but the upside could be huge if he can dominate the field with fundraising and campaign presence.

Biden 2020 may be the last chance he has to expand his political resume, and I doubt he’s going to let this opportunity drift by without giving it a shot.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The best thing Biden has going for him is likability. He’s seen almost universally as a nice guy.

    To beat Trump, Democrats will need one of three options. One is a nice guy to contrast Mr. Nasty–but in some cases, Americans think of Trump as FDR is reported to have said about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza: (he’s a bastard) “but he’s OUR bastard.”

    Mick Mulvaney called Trump “a terrible human being,” but didn’t have a problem taking a top job from him. Likewise, a third of the people don’t care that Trump’s a “terrible human being,” if he gets them what they want.

    The second way to beat Trump is to find someone who can think on their feet and beat Trump at his own game. Al Franken has the intelligence, wit, and presence of mind to run circles around Trump. I don’t know of any other Democrat who has that capability.

    Ted Cruz is an experienced debater, so he could have destroyed Trump logically in 2016–except that Cruz is even more unlikable than Trump. Remember that Lindsay Graham said if Cruz were killed on the floor of the Senate, and the killer’s trial were in the Senate, he couldn’t be convicted.

    The third option is to find someone who can stir the imagination of the public–someone like JFK, a rookie with great hair and optimism–who beat Nixon, who had greatly superior experience in 1960. Beto O’Rourke has that kind of magnetism, but it would only take one or two missteps to crash and burn, the way the once exciting McGovern fell to Nixon in 1972.

    So Democrats will need someone likable (not just “likable enough” as Obama said about Hillary in 2008). They’ll need someone who is witty and quick witted. Trump can make devastating attacks, but not quickly. When he was finally attacked in the 2016 Republican debates, his responses sounded like Peewee Herman (“I know you are, but what am I?”) And, finally, Democrats will need someone new–like Kamala Harris or Beto O’Rourke. But both of them have already shown vulnerabilities, as well as a lack of likability and wit.

    Trump is already proudly and publicly building a machine for 2020. The longer it takes Democrats to find a champion, the more likely he or she will be too little, too late.

    • Good response. I disagree with some of your comments about Trump but you have the right to express your thoughts.

      I think Trump reacts very quickly on his feet. Trouble is he holds back too many times.

      His response to Jeb Bush during a debate “Oh yeah Jeb your Really Tough, Really Tough” was very telling. Trump should respond more like that but he holds back. His brashness is what people like.

      Those that dislike Trump are going to do so no matter what he says.

      • I didn’t mean it to be critical of Trump. People have different strengths.

        Being fast is not the same as being witty or clever. Your Bush reference is a perfect example.

        Can anyone find a truly clever or witty rejoinder that Trump has made with anyone?

        • Trump certainly isn’t a quick quipped Ronald Reagan: ” Yes, for many years I was a Democrat.” You know referring to did he take some of the blame.

          Many of Trump’s laughing quotes come from a dry sense of humor.

          • Can you give me an example of that? I’m not being difficult. I just don’t remember actual humor coming from Trump, except as written for him.

            As you note, Reagan was very good at it, too–because he was secure in himself and in his set of beliefs. As I noted, Trump’s sense of self, and his “beliefs” are always changing. Look at the shutdown. At first he wanted it, then he said he’d agree to putting it off, then he invited “Chuck and Nancy” to a meeting without telling them the media would be there, and said several times that it would be HIS shutdown, with “Chuck” noting that Trump had said 25 times in public that he wanted a shutdown. He proudly agreed. Now he’s saying it’s not his fault.

            My point is not even to criticize that decision. It’s to point out that his sense of self is very shaky, and if talk show hosts criticize him, he has to immediately find a way to placate them. If you’re that worried all the time, it’s hard to feel secure and humorous.

            I’m old enough to have watched JFK. One of the reasons he got along so well with the press was that he invited them in. I remember many times when he deflected a criticism with humor (as Reagan did). In one case. the media were criticizing JFK’s pick of his inexperienced brother, Bobby, to be Attorney General–the top legal office in the land. JFK said he wanted to give him some legal experience before he started his career. Later, after the Bay of Pigs debacle, he took full responsibility, without blaming anyone (including Ike, under whose administration the operation was planned and approved). The public was so impressed that he became even more popular. JFK quipped that the more he screws up, the more people like him.

            And finally, back to the wall, the shutdown is not about the wall. It’s about Congress holding the purse strings and not being bullied into a last minute change by the Executive Branch. It’s about separation of powers, and Congress is finally taking back some small part of its authority it has ceded–or maybe not, depending on the outcome.

  2. Great article.

    Biden is weak. I’m sure he’s very well connected. A good old boy.

    Why does the media attack Trump but cover up for Biden when they say almost the exact same thing?

    I’d love to see him run against Trump. He’ll surely be the Democrats number 1 candidate.

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