Emily is a senior from Charlotte, NC double majoring in Political Science and Spanish.This summer, she worked at the Department of Justice in the Office of International Affairs. Additionally, she was the Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Latin American Public Opinion Project here at Vanderbilt. She is interested in international politics and American foreign policy. This year, she is serving as the Managing Editor for VPR.
What if Joe Biden ran for President? It seems, according to the polls, that if the current Vice President were to enter the race, he would present some serious competition to Hillary Clinton’s as of now assumed dominance and add another flavor to the Democratic mix, which includes Bernie Sanders and others. Indeed, the reality of his actually entering the race looks increasingly promising. According to a Politico article, the beginnings of a campaign appear to already be taking place, for his staff is “talking to donors…connecting with old supporters…starting to think about potential campaign staff hires”—all of which bespeak of a foreseeable announcement. Still, Vice President Biden is also giving indications to the contrary, for the recent death of his son and his emotional struggle seem to cloud the possibility of presidential campaign entrance. Considering, though, what appears to be the subtle beginnings of a campaign, is Joe Biden the kind of candidate who could win? It seems, barring the entrance of any other candidate in the Democratic presidential race, that Joe Biden might be just the kind of candidate that could threaten Hillary Clinton’s establishment. Ironically, though, Joe Biden’s potential candidacy could be successful in the Democratic race precisely because he is more akin to the stereotypical establishment candidate than is Hillary Clinton.
Joe Biden certainly isn’t a novelty to the American electorate. Serving as Vice President for the duration of President Obama’s term and a half, Biden is well known to the voting public. Indeed, he also comes from a well-established political family, further dulling claims that Joe Biden would rival Hillary Clinton in terms of adding a fresh perspective to the Democratic race. However, the polls seem to present a different story about the American public’s receptivity to Vice President Biden’s entrance. In fact, according to an article in The New York Times, “polls show him with…20 percent to Mrs. Clinton’s 37 percent…and advisers mapping out a path to the nomination imagine that the minute he announced, he would pick up 5 to 10 points, making it a legitimate context, not a quixotic exercise.” Why is that? How can a candidate that hails from a family entrenched in American politics and that has already held the closest position of power to the presidency in the United States—that is, the Vice Presidency—present a challenge to Hillary Clinton? A recent article in The Atlantic negatively dubs him “an aging establishmentarian” in contrast to the “ideal Clinton alternative [who] might be a fresh-faced liberal from outside the Beltway.”
Perhaps the reason that Joe Biden’s candidacy could present a realistic threat to Hillary Clinton’s is because of two simple facts: his likeability factor, and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in what the American public might perceive as political scandal. Indeed, a CNN article highlights the fact that Hillary Clinton is seen to have “too much baggage,” to use the words of someone in the crowd at a recent Labor Day speech in Pittsburgh. Joe Biden, then, if he entered the Democratic race for president, might just win because of his establishment stereotype—he’s arguably the safer choice for a public wary of Hillary Clinton’s past political embroilments in controversy. That is, if he enters.
[Image Credit: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/08/joe-bidens-going-to-iowa-too/]