If liberals, independents and former Republicans agree on any one thing — and there are very few things about which anyone can seemingly agree these days — it is that finding a Democratic nominee who can beat Donald Trump in 2020 is of paramount importance.
And, if we learned anything from 2016, that nominee will need to transcend party politics and appeal to moderate voters, swing voters and independent voters (like me) who no longer have a political affiliation after that dumpster fire of an election.
That is why Joe Biden is arguably the party's best hope for 2020. As the most established, qualified, experienced, likable, popular and bipartisan Democrat exploring a bid for the presidency, his ability to relate to blue-collar Americans and his jovial demeanor make him the ideal candidate to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump.
When it comes to Biden’s likability, he soars among almost every demographic and is more favorable than Donald Trump (56 percent unfavorable and 40 percent favorable). However, Biden also sits atop all the potential 2020 candidates as the only candidate with a favorability over 50 percent, according to late December Quinnipiac polling.
Biden has a track record of working across the aisle to get things done. Biden was the guy who negotiated the fiscal cliff deal with Senator Mitch McConnell as well as a major part of the 2010 deal that extended the Bush tax cuts, because he doesn’t view Republicans as enemies, he knows he needs to work with them in order to get things done. This is exactly the right tone that needs to be set on the campaign trail especially as Republican voters in general and Trump supporters in particular feel vilified by the media.
Just this week, he responded to criticism of himself in the New York Times for being bipartisan saying, “I read in the New York Times today that one of my problems if I were to run for president, I like Republicans. OK, well bless me father for I have sinned.”
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He added: “From where I come from, I don’t know how you get anything done. I don’t know how you get anything done unless you start talking to one another again.”
The eventual Democratic nominee would also have to appeal to young voters, who have been the most disaffected by Trump’s presidency — and Biden polls best among voters under the age of 35 with a 60 percent favorability. It also doesn’t hurt that upon Biden’s return to the social platform Instagram late last summer, he drew over one million followers — and we all know social media is key to reaching young people in today’s campaign atmosphere.
Whichever Democrat candidate becomes the nominee will also need to have a name recognition that matches that of Trump, and Biden can handily compete with that as the former vice president of the United States and a long time senator.
Furthermore, there are two key demographics that swung for Trump in the 2016 election that Democrats need to win back in 2020: Independent voters and most importantly, suburban female voters. In the 2016 election, over 47 percent of Trump’s voters were women — a statistic that still shocks many pundits and analysts to this day. But due to the rhetoric and blunders of the White House, nearly 30 percent of those women now have a very poor impression of Trump according to a recent Pew Research Poll.
Worse than just their sentiments toward Trump, though, suburban women who catapulted him into the White House swung blue in the midterm elections. A USA Today analysis of the 2018 midterm election found more than 80 suburban counties and cities — with high incomes and large number of college-educated voters — voted more Democratic than in 2016. These gains were huge for Democrats, but this demographic could change again in 2020 if Republicans were to get smart about their candidates, rhetoric, and strategy, which no one expects.
These suburban and college-educated women who are increasingly aligning themselves with the Democratic party also describe themselves as mostly moderates — looking for a government that compromises.
And, suburban swing voters were the ones who were fed up with career politicians and willing to shake things up — but have been left shocked by how Trump has conducted himself in the Oval Office. These same voters who wanted to try doing away with business as usual are now looking for stability.
And, while the hyper-liberal wing of the Democratic party is already making noise about Biden's work reaching across the aisle to help common-sense Republicans and even seizing on his questioning of Anita Hill nearly 30 years ago despite his apology, voters are not going to ignore his long history of leadership on the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault as the writer and champion of the Violence Against Women Act in 1990. But, his work on the issue didn’t stop there: When he served as vice president he worked with college campuses to address the issue and even after leaving office penned an op-ed on changing the culture around sexual assault.
To put it bluntly, Biden has everything he needs to run against Trump and actually win — he just needs to officially throw his hat in the ring and convince others in the field to move aside so as to not fall victim to a tough primary the likes of which the Republican Party saw in 2008, 2012 and 2016. All the resources of the Democratic party ought to go toward defeating Trump, not fighting one another.
As a former Republican voter who denounced the party once Trump became its nominee, I’ve often been asked who my ideal candidate would be, and the answer has always been rather simple: A ticket with Joe Biden at the top, because he is a no-nonsense guy who understands the needs of everyday Americans and knows how to make the government work for the people.
Not only does Biden’s likability and down-to-earth personality make him the ideal candidate, he is the right candidate for the moment — and that moment is a dire one. It’s time to return common sense, bipartisanship and stability back to our government and to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in particular.
Rather than crowding the field, Democrats should encourage someone like Biden to run if they’re serious about taking back the White House, or they will simply tear themselves apart and hand the election to Trump on a platter.