Joe Biden is expected to join the presidential race from one day to the next, and it is hard to remember another campaign with two paths so different: it could carry its well known name and the moderate's call to victory, or his old school approach might fail humiliating mode for the former vice president.
Until now, Biden has not made any deep breakthrough in the first candidate states of Iowa or New Hampshire. But it is clear that Biden-world is preparing for the launch. The first job openings for New Hampshire staff are expected in the coming days, and prominent announcements are being posted, according to a Democrat helping Biden prepare for the presidential bid.
Biden's decision is the last major missing piece of the 2020 puzzle for Democrats. Let's now describe the arguments for how the Biden presidential race could be run.
Option A: It could very well go for BidenThere are many factors in his favor. Biden is by far the leader in an increasingly national media landscape (think of CNN's public lecture series) and a map covering the entire country. Unlike previous primaries, candidates spend more time in states that appear later in the nomination calendar, such as Texas and Georgia, while they are looking for voters and donors.
This nationalized primary breed was invented by Donald Trump. Not only did he avoid local power stratagems in the early states, but he also spent more time talking about his CNN campaign than at Concord, N.H.
If Biden plays well on a national scale, and that influences what is happening in the first states, will the kind of campaign that he will conduct in Iowa or New Hampshire will matter? he really?
Except Biden is also leading polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina and California. That's right, everyone.
It may be because Biden has the moderate block of his party for himself alone. While rivals stand out in positions that appeal to an asserted left, Biden may be the only home reserved for voters less comfortable with, for example, Medicare for All or Green New Deal.
Who would be Biden's main competitor as a moderate? Without the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, it may be that Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who claims to want to present herself as moderate in the Midwest. But compared to Biden, she is fundamentally unknown.
"Biden is above all competitors and has never entered a presidential race," said Dick Swett, New Hampshire representative to the House of Commons and President Bill Clinton's ambassador to Denmark. "There is Biden, an experienced person, surrounded by a group of people without any experience."
Finally, voters say they want less tangible but important: authenticity and the ability to elect. Biden scores well in these categories. For decades, he has cultivated the image of Uncle Joe, a guy who could say wacky things, but who is above all his authentic being.
This brand is what prompted many Democratic voters to give Biden the benefit of the doubt about some of the touching, inappropriate allegations that surfaced last month. (Several women said that Biden had made them uncomfortable with his physical interactions and he later promised to be more attentive to respecting personal spaces in the future.)
But Biden's best argument could be that he's the most eligible, at a time when Democrats are telling investigators it's possible to defeat Trump, it's the most important quality for a candidate. He is known, he has proven himself and grew up in Pennsylvania, one of the three states of the "blue wall" that the Democrats must overthrow of Trump – in addition to Michigan and Wisconsin – to win the victory at the White House.
Option B: It may not go for Biden
After all, his last two rounds ended in a defeat: his 1988 campaign ended with a plagiarism scandal and his 2008 candidacy was filled with blunders (though he had sufficiently impressed the Democrats to get the second place on the ticket with Barack Obama). In both presidential elections, Biden was not even far enough away to run for the New Hampshire primary.
Fundraising has always been a problem for Biden, who has never kept pace with his rivals, not least because he was a Delaware senator, a small state, and that he did not have any money. Had never built a national network of donors.
Let 's look now at what Biden, 76, will face in 2020 in terms of the money race: instead of looking for big checkers of linkers, candidates are now collecting money through the Intermediary of small donors who contribute monthly. Biden has never had to create such a list, although its recognition and decades of relationships can help it act quickly.
But Biden's policy is where she could get really ugly.
For the most part, Democrats tell pollsters that they are not bothered by Biden's sensitivity in the past. But on the bottom, he has potential problems: Biden will be the only one in the largely liberal field of candidates who voted for NAFTA or for the 2003 war authorization in Iraq. He voted for both as a senator. He was also considered to be in favor of Wall Street in a bill on bankruptcy in the Senate.
This week brought another cloud of storm. CNN found letters from the late 1970s in which Biden, in his own writing, opposed the bus for school desegregation, hoping to be loved by a powerful Mississippi democrat who believed that the Afro -Americans were an inferior race. The letters surfaced at a time when some Democrats are discussing reparations to be made to African Americans for their slavery.
Then there is the lack of ground game for Biden. For someone who has been in politics for decades, he has remarkably few supporters infrastructure in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. Biden will need local supporters to get organized quickly to build an e-mail list, organize events and prove he is a major candidate with real support deserving of the top spot.
Today, in New Hampshire, the number of people who regularly speak to Biden can be counted on one hand – although one of them, Steve Shurtleff, has been bred to become the top New Hampshire House Speaker.
"He and his team have not been very active in making calls or settling in New Hampshire," said Shurtleff, a Biden staff member at the 2008 campaign. "But I think a lot of people will be excited if he participates in the race. "
Meanwhile, Biden's rivals have been working at the base for months or even years in some cases. Senator Bernie Sanders has actively maintained contact with his New Hampshire steering committee since his last run, and Senator Elizabeth Warren began calling activists and board members last year for her candidacy.
James Pindell can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or s Subscribe to his Ground Game Information Letter on Politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp