Barack Obama’s former vice president leads the popularity polls among Democratic Party presidential candidates.
For months it has been clear that Joe Biden would enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Even though he had not made an official announcement, Barack Obama’s former vice president topped the popularity polls, and it appeared that he was perhaps the best choice to stop Donald Trump from being reelected.
However, when he announced his intention to run on Thursday, there were questions about his chances of emerging victorious in the primaries, as they are elections in which a large group of the youngest competing candidates, who represent the most progressive wing of the party, which has been changing in recent years, will be put to the test.
On paper, Biden’s background is faultless, and he has more experience than any of his rivals. He served Obama during his eight years in the White House and has served 30 years in the Senate representing Delaware.
In addition, he has both national and international recognition and has run for president twice before, which is the source of his popularity, according to a recent Democratic candidate popularity poll, in which he tops the list with 30% of the vote.
Weakness or Strength
At 76 years old, Biden would become the oldest president to reach the White House if he were elected, and this could work against him. This is true especially now, with the emergence of young opponents like Pete Buttigieg, who is openly gay, or the African American Sen. Kamala Harris. The party is strong in representatives who are younger than 35.
However, the real challenge for the former vice president is ideological. Biden’s political career has been defined by his centrist policies and his ability to negotiate with the Republican opposition. Still, in real American politics, where extreme positions and partisan warfare prevail, his profile is incongruous.
Additionally, more progressive viewpoints have gained ground in the party and in left-wing politics, ideas like free education and universal health care, which are not on the former vice president’s agenda. In other words, Biden remains a traditional Democrat at a time when the party is quickly abandoning tradition.
He Could Have Difficulty
Given that the most radical wing of the party usually has a lot of clout in the primary elections, the former vice president could be passed over for someone like Sen. Bernie Sanders, someone who was seen as “extreme” when he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016 but today represents the heart of the Democratic Party.
For this reason, many experts, among them experts at the University of Virginia and analysts from CNN, think Sanders is the likely winner. Not only because he already has an impressive election campaign machine in play but also because he has demonstrated that he can raise money from supporter contributions and because he is seen as the most likely to win the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary (in Sanders’ home state), which are the first events to take place in the race for the nomination and which tend to set a precedent moving forward.
The problems for the party, and therefore for Biden’s chances, is that a too “liberal” candidate could move voters away from the center, which would benefit Trump.
“We need to get more pragmatic and understand that Joe Biden is the only real chance to win in 2020, My concern is that our nominee has to be able to carry Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan and I don’t see that in any of these other folks, ” declared Dick Harpootlian, the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and now a campaign adviser.
If Biden survives the primaries and is nominated, his weaknesses could turn into his strengths. Many centrist voters who perhaps fear for the fate of leftist candidates may see Biden as the alternative Trump’s chaotic government.
This is a great advantage because Trump will have the backing of his fan base, and it will be those voters, and those in the states Harpootlian mentioned, who will be the ones to decide on the new occupant of the White House.
"If we give Trump another eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” Biden warned.