So it’s official. Joe Biden is in. The man who’s been running for president since Reagan was in office has finally announced his candidacy to become the 46th President of the United States. To say this was anticlimactic would be putting it mildly. Face it, if you thought for one moment that Biden was going to punt on what would likely be his last, best chance to realize his life-long dream, you are to politics what Monday-morning quarterbacks are to the NFL.
Two things immediately jump out. First, he enters the race as the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination; only Bernie Sanders is within striking distance. Second, he’s also the prohibitive favorite to beat Trump in 2020. There’s not a single poll that doesn’t show him ahead in the presidential race. And while I understand it’s still early – at this point in the 2008 presidential election both Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton were the favorites to win the Republican and Democratic nomination respectively, and we all know what happened in that election. It also bears noting that going into the summer of 2015, Trump was polling at 5 percent and Jeb Bush was the clear frontrunner. So, yes, anything can happen.
All that aside, the demographics bode well for Biden. For starters, he’s the only establishment / moderate candidate in the field, which means he won’t have to worry about splitting the vote with other like-minded candidates. So far as I can tell, about the only competition Biden has could potentially come from Amy Klobuchar, Tim Ryan and, maybe, John Hickenlooper. Currently, all three are polling at a collective 3.2 percent according to RCP. Compare and contrast that with Bernie, who has to contend with the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg – my current dark horse favorite – Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke, all of whom are polling at a combines 28.6 percent, 5 points higher than Sanders’ overall total. In other words, every vote that goes to one of those four is one less vote Bernie gets. The longer they stay in the race, the harder it is for him to win the nomination.
And Biden is strong where it counts: geographically. Let’s face it, Trump ran an inside straight through the Rust Belt states. He won the presidency by edging out Clinton in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania with a combined total of less than 80 thousand votes. The candidate who wins the Democratic nomination MUST make sure that doesn’t happen again. That means the eventual nominee must have a message that resonates with this part of the country, and Biden, if nothing else, is popular with blue-collar workers, the very voters who put Trump in the White House.
But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that for all his strengths, Biden has a couple of fairly large hurdles to overcome. The largest of these also happens to be his biggest strength. The man has been around forever. When you look up the word establishment, there’s a picture of him right next to it. He makes Hillary look like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And while, according to Gallup, about 50 percent of registered Democrats identify as either moderate or conservative, the other 50 percent identify as liberal. And a lot of those liberal Democrats are looking for someone considerably younger and more progressive that Uncle Joe.
And then there’s the other hurdle: women voters. The recent revelation that Biden, on more than just a few occasions, got a little too familiar with his fellow female politicians, though not necessarily disqualifying, is nonetheless problematic. While nobody is accusing him of being Roy Moore or Harvey Weinstein, he’s also not exactly Mr. Rogers either. The guy doles out hugs about as frequently as a baby soils his diaper. And his non-apologetic explanation after the fact has apparently not gone over too well with the very demographic he will need in a head to head matchup with a man who routinely snuck into the dressing rooms of his beauty contestants while they were naked. If this issue ends up coming down to a coin flip next November, we’re fucked. Clearly, Biden has some fence mending to do here.
But overall, Biden has, in my opinion, the best chance of making Trump a one-term president. He’s not too far to the left that centrist Democrats and even some moderate Republicans (yes, they’re out there and they’re looking for an excuse not to vote for Trump) won’t find him attractive. And he’s liberal enough so that he can get at least a plurality of primary votes. In this very crowded field, if Biden continues to poll around 30 percent, he’ll win the nomination. Like I said earlier, only Bernie can compete with him.
I know what you’re thinking – yes, I’m that good. What about his age? What about it? If both Trump and Bernie can run for president, and both are well into their 70s, why can’t Biden? It’s absurd to think that in this day and age, a man with as impressive a resume as Biden’s isn’t up to the task of running the country simply because of the year he was born. Given that the current occupant of the Oval Office spends more than half his time watching Fox News and playing golf, Biden could sleep through the first two years of his term and still accomplish more.
Just think about it: a ticket of Biden and Buttigieg would be quite formidable in 2020. Two men who actually know a thing or two about blue-collar workers and who could make a compelling argument for why the part of the country that overwhelmingly went for Trump four years ago, should reconsider that decision and vote blue this time around.