CBS news is reporting that Joe Biden is set to launch his 2020 Presidential campaign by mid-April. That move would shakeup a Democratic primary field that is already crowded and would add to the ideological fight for the party’s future.
Biden leads in many polls even before he announces and would have the highest name recognition of any candidate, followed closely by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Biden told an audience at the University of Delaware last week that his family is encouraging him to run. Four years ago, he cited family reasons, especially the death of his son Beau, as the primary reason he didn’t run.
The political landscape is far different this time around. There are twelve announced Democratic candidates, two more have formed exploratory committees (which usually means they are running), and several more are expected to announce. The party itself has moved farther to the left than it was four years ago by adopting some of the ideas pushed by Sanders, and several of the announced candidates would like to push the party even further in that direction.
The former Vice President has enjoyed strong support from Unions throughout his political career, and he and President Obama successfully won over voters in the suburbs and key swing states. But the party is younger and more diverse than in years past. Biden, who is 76, faces the same question as Sanders: Can he win over young voters who may be the key to success, not just in the primaries, but in the general election against President Trump.
Still waiting to be heard from is Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Congressman who ran a strong race against Republican Ted Cruz in what is usually a deep red state. O’Rourke ran a different kind of campaign, often relying on social media to stream his campaign events, a strategy which may appeal to younger voters. O’Rourke told the Dallas Morning News that he has made a decision about his political future but did not say what it is.
One candidate who was expected to run now says he won’t. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has visited several early primary states, but today issued a statement saying the best place for him to fight President Trump is in the Senate.
Biden’s entry into the race would make him the instant frontrunner but will not instantly solve a central question for Democrats: Continue the move to the left or try a more centrist approach to appeal to Independent voters? We won’t know that until after millions of Democrats turn out for caucuses and primaries starting next February.