vision 2020

Biden’s Plan: All Aboard the Obama Nostalgia Train

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joe Biden, the current Democratic primary front-runner according to most polls, is well aware of the Obama bubble: the phenomenon of party voters favoring the former vice-president because of his association with one of the most popular Democratic leaders in recent history. He’s so aware, in fact, that according to a report from the Associated Press, the nascent Biden campaign intends to lean heavily on Obama’s legacy in an attempt to rebuild the coalition that brought him two sturdy Electoral College wins.

It’s more or less the expected move from the former vice-president, invoking the name of a highly popular centrist in a time when policy proposals from 2020 contenders like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are pushing the Party to the left. According to a recent Pew survey of registered Democrats, 53 percent said they want the party to pursue a “more moderate direction,” while 40 percent preferred the more liberal politics that emerged in the wake of the 2016 election.

More numbers in Biden’s favor come from a recent Morning Consult poll, which states he’s the second choice of Bernie Sanders supporters, Kamala Harris supporters, and Beto O’Rourke supporters, suggesting the broad, if secondary appeal of the former vice-president. Perhaps the best argument for a Biden ticket is the possibility of reclaiming working-class Obama-Trump voters for the Democratic Party. According to a Harvard-Harris poll from February, three out of four voters who said they’d back a Biden run don’t have a college education. The same poll states he’s winning 42 percent of non-college-educated voters, 20 points more than his closest competitor, Bernie Sanders.

At a recent labor union event, Biden said he was proud to be an “Obama-Biden Democrat,” close branding that might be essential in the primary battle, where politicians will hit the former VP for both past policies and recent indiscretions. Already, Biden’s opponents are reminding voters of political stances and events — like the the crime bill and Anita Hill hearings — that could haunt him in the primary and beyond. Though Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi say Biden’s touchy behavior is not “disqualifying,” it’s still baggage that could weigh down his candidacy. (Consider the president’s bizarre tweet on the matter that ignores his own history with unwanted contact.) Allegations of Biden’s inappropriate contact have yet to hurt his stance in the polls: 71 percent of California Democrats recently polled felt that Biden’s handsiness was not a “serious issue.”

The ex-veep may pull out the “Obama-Biden Democrat” calling card more frequently in the coming weeks, which is a bit odd, as the Associated Press notes. A while back, Obama and Biden reportedly agreed that the former president wouldn’t skew the odds by backing a primary candidate. Thus, the “Obama-Biden Democrat” claim doesn’t have the full support of its most important player.

Report: Joe Biden to Run Obama Nostalgia Campaign