Joe Biden is going to announce his bid for the Oval Office this week. But it doesn’t matter. Despite being the most qualified, moderate, and electable candidate in the race, Joe Biden will not be nominated. His moderate stances will hurt him with the passionate progressives who have laid claim to the Democratic Party, and his absence in the first quarter of fundraising is going to force him to start behind the pack.
Biden certainly has his advantages as a candidate.
He was the Vice President for Barack Obama. His name recognition both in the party and in the general public is ridiculously high, and he’s moderate enough to actually win a general election. Most, if not all, Democrats would be happy with Biden as the nominee: He is the second choice of Sanders, Harris, and O’Rourke supporters according to a Morning Consult poll. The same poll found a 75% favorability rating among Democrats for creepy uncle Joe; the highest of any candidate. Biden consistently polls better than any Democrats against Donald Trump, especially with independents due to his moderate policy stances.
Despite all of this, I don’t think Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee.
First of all, those moderate policies which unite independents, alienate the progressives Democrats may need to win the general election. The absolute biggest reason, to me, that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump was low voter enthusiasm. Remember, Trump did worse in 2016 than Romney did in 2012 overall, and in some key states. The biggest difference between the two was that Romney ran against the hope and change candidate, Barack Obama, who saw huge voter turnout from black and blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt.
So, if Biden can’t reinvigorate that enthusiasm, he may be dead-on-arrival.
This brings me to the candidate Biden should fear: The other old rich white guy, Bernie Sanders. In 2016, Sanders won Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and West Virginia over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, all by huge margins. These are all Rust Belt states seen as important to Trump’s reelection plan, and so there is some thought that Sanders may have that appeal. To his fault, though, is nearly every southern state.
Clinton swept the black demographic south of the Mason-Dixon line, which could play into the primary and into the Democrats’ general election strategy. However, even if Biden can beat Sanders with black voters, he still has to beat Booker and Harris, both of whom are part-black and both of whom are playing heavily into identity politics.
Lastly, Biden’s finances.
Yes, Biden does have plenty of establishment connections (read: lobbyists), but many are spoken for. In the first quarter of 2019, Democrats running for president raked in over $65 million combined, with Sanders and Harris both pulling in more than $10 million and seven candidates raising more than $5 million.
Biden will have to play catch-up, and while his name recognition is high enough that money isn’t so important, it is always a factor. In addition to a financial deficit, Biden also has the disadvantage of coming late into a race that has effectively been happening for four months. The serious activists have their candidates already, and many of the average voters are just going to listen to them.
Biden isn’t dead yet. Who knows, he could surge to top of fundraising numbers and regain his once-strong polling lead. But with no solid base, and a very divided field, and a serious financial disadvantage, I doubt it. Regardless, we’ll find out. Welcome to the show, Uncle Joe.