Finally, Joe Biden has entered the 2020 Democratic primary. On Apr. 25, Biden released a video focusing mostly on opposition to Donald Trump and cleaning up Washington. In fact, Biden clearly stated in his announcement video that, above all policy, the ability to defeat Donald Trump should be the primary consideration for 2020 Democratic voters. He framed his candidacy as the only one that could sweep in and restore normalcy to a country, a message that — while devoid of policy substance — could be appealing to many voters.
Before his announcement, Biden was beating Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the polls by a couple points, which caused the media to frame them as co-equal frontrunners. Though Biden and Bernie were, on average, 8 points apart in the polls, Sanders supporters and media contrarians alike constantly made an effort to equivocate them and even pretend that Sanders was the frontrunner. Much of this hot air is due to an overreaction from 2016: the Russian narrative that Clinton rigged the primary against Sanders permeated through all levels of American discourse, causing the media to be unwilling to point out that Sanders, is, in fact, not the frontrunner.
Now, Bernie’s second-tier status is immediately clear. In nearly all of the polls conducted since Biden announced his candidacy (the previous ones were done without his official entrance into the race), he’s hovered around 40% support, almost triple the 15% average of Bernie. Not only that; polling bumps tend to fade a week after candidates announce (like Harris, O’Rourke, and Buttigeig), and Biden has only continued to rise three weeks into the campaign.
Nancy Pelosi has said that the new socialist wing of the Democratic party consists of “like five people,” a surprisingly accurate statement which outlines the salience and plausibility of Biden’s candidacy. Other articles have pointed out that Twitter and other internet hubs of progressives, are simply not representative of the Democratic electorate. It would be highly misguided for people to assume that Biden won’t win simply because he’s not as popular as Sanders, Buttigeig, or Warren on the internet. 53% of Democrats identify as either moderate or conservative. Biden’s policy stances are very much in alignment with moderate democrats: he opposes medicare for all in favor of the public option, hasn’t endorsed the green new deal, and represents an Obama administration which governed in the center.
Biden also aligns with most other democrats in terms of tone. Only 7% of democrats have attended a protest in the last year, compared to 28% of “social media democrats.” Nobody should be surprised that Biden is doing so well in the polls; he’s a popular 2-term Vice President whose views align with most Democratic primary voters (especially because primary voters skew old), and who is seen as electable even by people who disagree with him.
SPA and urban Democrats exist in a bubble, and we can talk all we want about candidates like Harris, Bernie, and even Amy Klobuchar, but that won’t invalidate the fact that Biden is the favorite.