What to make of Joe Biden?
After looking at the latest national polls, one would assume the 2020 Democratic presidential race is a runaway for former Vice President Joe Biden.
A polling average earlier this week tabulated by Chicago-based Real Clear Politics showed Biden with anywhere from 23-point to a 27-point lead on his closest competitor, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
The numbers are somewhat closer in New Hampshire, which seems logical because Sanders is from a bordering state. In the first-in-the-nation primary state, Biden leads Sanders by an average of 13 points.
We admit to being somewhat surprised at Biden’s overwhelming poll numbers. As a 76-year-old, white, straight, Christian man, he just doesn’t seem to fit the profile of the typical Democratic voter of today.
Therefore, we attribute Biden’s Democratic primary polling strength to three factors:
• Name recognition;
• His close association to former President Barack Obama (Obama/Biden) as his vice president; and
• The fact that many Democrats are so desperate to defeat President Donald Trump in 2020 that the relatively moderate and well-known Biden seems the surest bet to do that.
Still, Biden seems to have plenty of vulnerabilities in the race moving forward. For the female Democrats who fought so hard to elect Hillary Clinton as the first female president in 2016, are they really going to choose Biden over qualified women, such as Kamala Harris of California or Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts?
Furthermore, on Monday, Biden told the Associated Press he did not regret his 1993 vote – while a member of the U.S. Senate from Delaware – in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Fair trade is important,” Biden said. “Not free trade. Fair trade. And I think that back in the time during the (President Bill) Clinton administration, it made sense at the moment.”
During the 2016 campaign, Trump slammed NAFTA as the reason for myriad shuttered steel mills and factories across the Midwest. This tough talk caused many lifelong union Democrats in battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan to vote for Trump.
And 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was, herself, not even an elected official in 1993, so she never actually voted for NAFTA. Biden’s pro-NAFTA vote may prove as much an obstacle for him in the Midwest as the subject did for Clinton in 2016.
Only time will tell if Biden can maintain his momentum in the Democratic primary. It should be an interesting ride.