Former Vice President and U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s announcement last week of his intent to seek the 2020 Democratic nomination for President may not be as well received as some may think, says a Washburn political scientist, partially because Biden would be 77 years old when sworn in if he won.
“I’m not engaging in ageism or anything,” said Washburn’s Bob Beatty. “That is a consideration for voters, especially after, I would argue, the 2018 midterms. A lot of voters were really attracted, in some cases, to both parties, to the younger candidates and new candidates.”
The irony, here, of course, is that at the time of his original election to the U.S. Senate in 1972, Biden was the sixth-youngest Senator in U.S. History.
“What he has right now, and this sounds a little silly, is name recognition,” said Beatty. “Early in the primary process, that’s huge. It was a massive boost to George W. Bush. To be honest, nobody knew anything about George W. Bush, Governor of Texas. What do you know about him? Nothing. The Bush name was incredibly helpful. Donald Trump, people did know about him, but that name recognition factor was very helpful.”
Because of his success in 2016 without getting the nomination, Bernie Sanders also has early name ID. There is some concern over Biden’s choices in photo ops with women and making them feel uncomfortable. It’s not on the level of the pre-election confessions of the current President, but it is an issue.
“He really is old school, in many ways like Donald Trump,” said Beatty. “What was okay for the first 50 years of Trump and Biden’s lives, fifty years, a long time, in many ways, that kind of behavior, not okay in 2019.”
Biden is positioning himself as a centrist, in contrast to many of his generally much younger foes who are, in the main, further left of his positions as a Senator, though maybe not of those espoused by the Obama administration when he was Vice President.