- Former Vice President Joe Biden kicked off his 2020 presidential campaign last week.
- Biden received a boost in the polls after his campaign launch.
- While many pundits have likened Biden to failed 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush as establishment campaigns past their prime, the two could not be more different in terms of both resources and support.
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Before former Vice President Joe Biden launched his 2020 presidential campaign last week, there were a lot of discussions about his prospects and attempts to compare his candidacy to the 2016 Jeb Bush run for the Republican nomination, which saw the former Florida governor begin as a frontrunner and flounder as then-candidate Donald Trump dragged the primary rightward.
But comparisons between Biden’s 2020 campaign and Bush’s 2016 White House bid are not founded much in reality, as Biden is quickly cementing himself as a top tier candidate with broad appeal in the Democratic Party.
“Well, he’s the guy who comes out as the frontrunner early, he’s the guy with enormous history, he’s got associations like Joe Biden does with Barack Obama and others who lift him,” former New Jersey Governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said on ABC in April while rehashing Bush’s failed 2016 campaign.
Christie went on to question whether Biden would approach the race like Bush did, being unable to be a candidate who “addresses today’s needs.” Christie also characterized Bush as unable to understand “the political times we were in,” adding that Bush “never changed and adjusted.”
“Will Joe Biden change and adjust to these times to be able to be someone who, as [Matthew Dowd] said, speaks to the concerns of Democratic primary voters now and then, ultimately, general election voters who, remember, did elect Donald Trump three years ago?” Christie added.
The Biden-Bush comparisons are not in short supply. USA Today columnist Jason Sattler crafted an entire piece around Biden’s “Achilles’ heels” such as having a long record in public service and not being “ruthless” enough.
“He trumpets nostalgia for bipartisan kumbayas in a moment when the only civil thing to do is ruthlessly oppose a GOP that has enabled Trump to rack up untold corruption while doing a better job of tracking migrant girls’ menstrual cycles than the hundreds of children this administration has orphaned,” Sattler wrote.
Fox News writer Mark Penn questioned whether Biden would emulate Bush in becoming the establishment’s candidate unable to build a coalition of supporters, but conceded the longtime Delaware senator is in a much better position than Bush was at this point in the 2016 race.
Biden beefed up his already commanding polling lead after launching last week
A slew of polls showed Biden receiving a substantial bump in the polls after announcing his presidential campaign on Thursday. While it is common for candidates to get a boost from a successful campaign launch, Biden was already leading most polls and has now strengthened that top tier status in crucial areas.
A poll from Quinnipiac University showed Biden with strong numbers over his Democratic colleagues also vying for the presidency. Among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, 56% said Biden would be best positioned to beat Trump in a head to head matchup. The next highest contender to beat Trump was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 12% confidence in his ability to unseat Trump.
Biden also trounced the Democratic field in other key areas, like policy approvals and leadership qualities.
A CNN poll found Biden at the top of the field with 39% of Democratic voters, with Sanders registering at less than half of that with 15% support. A Morning Consult survey found similar results with Biden at 36%, though Sanders was not as far behind with 22%.
Biden also has significant networks in crucial early voting states like South Carolina.
“I have talked to people here in South Carolina and I believe that at this point in time, Joe Biden is probably the leader. The question is whether or not he can maintain his lead,” said House Majority Whip and South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn during an interview on ABC. “But the campaign is early, and there have been some tremendous rollouts here in this state.”
Polls leading up to Biden’s entrance into the race showed a significant lead in South Carolina, far ahead of other Democrats in the 2020 field.
He gets under Trump’s skin
Biden has a unique ability to infuriate Trump like no other 2020 candidate can. For example, Trump has not even acknowledged William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor challenging him in the Republican primary.
Biden routinely takes shots at Trump, which sends the commander in chief into a fit of rage. When Biden said he could physically beat up the president, Trump became fixated on the subject.
“Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? I’d love that,” Trump said. “I’d love that. I’d love that. Mr. Tough Guy. You know, he’s Mr. Tough Guy. You know when he’s Mr. Tough Guy? When he’s standing behind a microphone by himself,” Trump said during a 2018 campaign rally.
Trump has brought it up at other rallies as well as during his morning Twitter screeds.
“Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault,” Trump wrote on Twitter last year. “He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!”
Trump immediately responded to Biden’s entrance into the 2020 race by insulting his intelligence, something he has not done for the other 19 declared candidates.
And Wednesday, Trump spent the better part of his morning amplifying anti-Biden tweets in response to the International Association of Firefighters Union endorsing Biden.
“I’ve done more for Firefighters than this dues sucking union will ever do, and I get paid ZERO!” Trump wrote on Twitter before retweeting 58 tweets replying to Republican commentator Dan Bongino’s tweet about how he does not know any firefighters who like Biden.
The bottom line for Biden is that he has strong polling, a vast political network, and is most commonly associated with former President Barack Obama, the most popular living Democratic president. Bush was not in that tier, having been associated with his brother, former President George W. Bush, who at the time was not favorable among the US electorate.
If Biden can maintain his strong polling and continue to build his big coalitions of support in key states, he is poised to gain ground, not lose it.