Biden bets on a high-risk primary strategy


Joe Biden hides a folder

Presidential candidate Joe Biden makes speeches, but often not in the same places as his fellow Democrats. | AP Photo / John Bazemore

Elections 2020

It seems that the former president presents himself for the appointment of a party different from that of his rivals, that is, he does it.


He boasts of his ability to engage with Republicans. He is not in the good graces of Ocasio-Cortez in Alexandria. His campaign sent conflicting messages about climate change and Abortion funding.

It seems that Joe Biden presents himself for the appointment of a different Democratic party from the rest of his rivals, that is, he does it.

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From his schedule to his political positions, the former Vice President is needed way through the primaries based on a theory that few of its rivals seem to believe – that the democratic base is not as liberal or as young as everyone thinks.

It's a high-risk strategy at a time when the progressive wing is full of energy. There is a danger of appearing disconnected from the new Obama coalition or appearing to adhere to an outdated party vision.

But so far, it works. Since its launch on April 25, despite rumors that his voting results would decline once he would have entered the race because he was not in tune with the political mood of the party, Biden instead directed each national survey. He sprinted out of the door with a bump 6 points post-announcement and always ahead of recent polls.

"He makes sure to become the candidate. And most importantly, if you become a candidate, you have to win the Electoral College in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio, "said Jim Mowrer, who led Iowa veterans' debates for the race for the Biden's presidency in 2008. "If you only address a specific group of the Democratic Party, this will not please the electorate in general."

Biden does not explicitly express his theory of the Democratic primary electorate, although he has publicly expressed his view that the party has not moved significantly further to the left.

"The fact is that the vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party are still fundamentally liberal to moderate democrats in the traditional sense of the word," he told reporters in early April. "The idea that all of a sudden the Democratic Party woke up and, you know, everybody asks, what kind of Democrat are you, I'm a Democratic Obama-Biden, dude. And I'm proud of it. "

In private, many Biden advisors recognize that their case theory is based on highly visible survey data and voting patterns. They argue that the idea of ​​a hyper-progressive democratic electorate is mistakenly advanced by a media stuck in a bubble propagated by Twitter and disconnected from the average democrat base.

The Biden team is pointing towards recent polls showing that the majority of primary Democratic voters identify as moderate or conservative, 56% are over 50 years old and nearly 60% have not completed higher education. And they evoke the results of the 2018 mid-term elections, which they say saw moderate Democrats win their primaries in Congress and in the state.

"There is a big gap between the media narrative and the appearance and thinking of the main electorate, in relation to the media narrative and the story of Twitter," said a Biden advisor who declined to speak. "The primary democratic universe is much less liberal. It's older than you think.

This could explain the digital advertising of the former vice president buys since entering the race. Since its launch, Biden's campaign has focused disproportionately on Facebook ads for voters aged 45 and over.

They represent about 62 percent of likely primary democrats, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, one of the largest digital democrats. According to data compiled by Bully Pulpit from April 20 to May 25, Biden spent 83% of its $ 1.2 million advertising money on Facebook.

No other Democratic primary candidate in primary school pursued a similar strategy.

He pursues other subtle indicators of his career. Unlike other Democrate 2020 contenders, wishing to be part of the show of liberal king Rachel Maddow once the main race began to take shape, Biden sat down with "The View" and ABC News, where he introduced his progressive supporters as Barack Obama's No. 2.

"The things we did in the United States as President and Vice President of the United States, I thought that they were rather progressive. I guess it's this new notion that you have to kind of have – well, I guess people have to look and see that I've been very progressive about things that really matter to the vast majority of people. "

As a leader with a high name identification, Biden enjoys a luxury of appointments that other candidates do not have. Yet he raised his eyebrows with his lack of the Democratic Party of California convention last weekend, at which 14 of its rivals met (The former vice president was in Ohio for a campaign event for human rights in same time.)

Biden also skipped a presidential forum in San Francisco hosted by the liberal grassroots group last weekend – another high-profile progressive event that was simultaneously broadcast live on its site. 500,000 members.

"Any serious candidate about the bid should prioritize relationships with local organizations like MoveOn," said Reggie Hubbard, Washington, DC, strategist for the group. "We take no offense to this. But it was definitely a missed opportunity.

On Sunday, the former vice president was absent at another "cattle call" party – the one in Iowa, attended by 19 other presidential candidates. His campaign said he was attending graduation from his granddaughter.

It's not that Biden completely bypasses the big holidays. He is just selective in those he chooses to go. He is scheduled to speak at the Democratic Party convention in South Carolina later this month – fewer candidates will be present and the State party will be closer to the center than its more liberal counterparts in California and New York. l & # 39; Iowa.

In politics, Biden was not so quick to join his competitors to adopt the purist positions preferred by progressive activists. That includes shrugging Medicare for allEven if his closest rival, Bernie Sanders, defends him and other leading candidates rely on their support.

Biden has already been stung for some of his positions, criticized as being out of step with the party. Ocasio-Cortez and others have harassed him as a precaution for what they've should be a mid-way climate policy proposal. But last week, the Biden campaign released a $ 1.7 trillion climate plan that included the Green New Deal framework.

The most important problem concerns the right to abortion. Biden had stated that he would maintain his long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions in most cases, including for low-income women enrolled in Medicaid. At one point, this position was not uncommon among Democratic politicians. But it's almost untenable now, and Biden gave up his support last week, just after stating that he would not do it, despite strong pressure from the external and internal campaign.

"This reflects the difficulty of defending a 45-year record that spans political eras," said David Axelrod, former strategist Barack Obama.


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