Joe Biden is everything a Democratic political consultant should love: He’s experienced, well-liked, and his poll numbers look great against Donald Trump.
And yet many party strategists have a bleak assessment of his potential 2020 campaign: It’s a bad, bad idea.
“This last election cycle, we’ve seen a whole new level of energy that has emerged through a lot of fresh faces, and the party has moved in that direction and wants to hear new ideas and different messages,” said Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party who now works as a consultant in the state.
Added Jim Manley, longtime Democratic operative: “I’m not convinced Biden is the right way to go at this point in time.”
“The folks I’ve talked to are a little taken aback” by his potential candidacy, Manley said. “No one quite understands where it’s coming from.”
McClatchy interviewed 31 Democratic strategists — pollsters, opposition research experts, media consultants, ex-party officials, and communications specialists — from across the country about a potential Biden campaign. Nine agreed to speak on the record; all others quoted anonymously do not plan to be affiliated with any candidate running in the presidential primary.
Strikingly, these conversations yielded a similar view: The Democratic political community is more broadly and deeply pessimistic about Biden’s potential candidacy than is commonly known. While these strategists said they respect Biden, they cited significant disadvantages for his campaign — from the increasingly liberal and non-white Democratic electorate to policy baggage from his years in the Senate and a field of rivals that includes new, fresh-faced candidates.