Though he usually shows up at the top of polls of potential Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential nomination, Joe Biden’s likely bid for the Oval Office leaves many party insiders surprisingly unimpressed, McClatchy revealed in a new report on Monday.
The outlet interviewed 31 insiders from the Democratic Party for the story and found significantly less enthusiasm than one might expect:
“Among political professionals, there are deep concerns because we know the history,” said a Pennsylvania-based Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about a party elder. “We have reason to be skeptical of the hype.”
“We heard it with Hillary, and we saw it happened,” the source added. “And there’s a lot of reason to think he would wind up a significantly weaker candidate than Hillary.”
Many of these strategists say that if Biden did win the nomination, they don’t think he would have a better chance of defeating Donald Trump than other top-tier contenders such as Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand — disputing the claim from many Biden supporters that he represents the safe choice in an election when rank-and-file voters are desperate to win back the White House.
For various reasons, many have argued that Biden would be the safest pick for the Democratic Party in 2020. Part of this seems to be a strong overcorrection to the 2016 election; many people assume that President Donald Trump won because of Hillary Clinton’s gender, her apparent “coldness,” and her lack of appeal for working-class whites, all of which are challenges Biden wouldn’t face. He also has several of her clear advantages she shared: He’s a known quantity, he’s clearly “qualified” in the traditional sense, and he’s close to President Barack Obama, who remains a popular figure in the party.
Of course, you can also give a list of Biden’s qualities would be at least as bad, if not worse, a candidate than Clinton: his deep party ties, his age, his track record of views that are now seen as deeply anit=progressive. The party is putting forward a refreshingly diverse set of candidates for 2020 — and many fear that would be undercut by picking a candidate who is the quintessential paragon of the old political guard.
But if there’s anything that 2016 taught us, it’s that political insiders, who long expected Jeb Bush to soar to the GOP nomination and who failed to see Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ascendancy coming, can easily get predictions drastically wrong.