July 25, 2018
The future of the Democratic Party and its plans to unseat President Donald Trump in 2020 remain murky ahead of this November's mid-term elections.
Much like in 2016, significant differences between the moderate centrist and progressive wings of the party will force Democrats to decide what kind of message, platform and leadership is most likely to win over the constituencies that leaned toward the domestic revivalism promised by President Trump.
A new report from Axios suggests that the Democrats' best chance in 2020 could be former Vice President Joe Biden.
"Advisers to President Trump say Joe Biden is the Democrat he most fears running against, and that Pennsylvania is the state he worries most about flipping against him," according to the report published on Wednesday.
Trump's concerns appear to stem largely from the relative weakness he perceives in the rest of the Democratic field, including names like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden, a source reportedly said, has the ability to connect with working class voters in swing states that leaned Republican in 2016.
"A Democratic source close to Biden said he'd be strong with 'Obama-Trump voters' in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin where 'the blue wall became the red threat' — Obama won them twice, then they flipped narrowly to Trump," the report continued.
Trump and Biden have sparred publicly in the past and would likely wage aggressive campaigns against one another in a head-to-head contest on a national stage. Both men are known for their off-the-cuff styles and flair for connecting with the most politically active groups in their respective bases.
Biden's statements about his interest in another presidential run have generally left the door open over the past two years. His actions, including the formation of the middle-class-focused Biden Forum, have hinted that he is strongly considering the possibility. Some political observers seem certain Biden will be on the ticket. (If elected, Biden would be the oldest president elected in U.S. history at age 77. Trump holds that distinction with his election at the age of 70.)
If the former vice president does decide to run, Democrats will have to weigh seriously whether the Trump administration's attacks on former President Obama's legacy have permanently stained Biden's viability, much in the same way Hillary Clinton's establishment record was negatively contrasted with Trump's "drain the swamp" credo.
But Biden's Scranton roots give him a legitimacy with Pennsylvania voters that could swing the state back to Democrats, a margin that could prove decisive if this year's mid-term elections show Americans want to push back against the policies of the past two years.
"There's a reason Pennsylvania had eluded Republican presidential candidates as long as it did," said GOP operative Josh Holmes, president of the Cavalry LLC issue management firm. "You need a combination of a really effective campaign, a perfect message and a good environment."