Biden Drops First Ad In Iowa, Emphasizing Electability

Former Vice-President Biden has dropped his first television ad in Iowa, and it touches on his strongest selling point.

Joe Biden has dropped his first television ad in Iowa and, not unexpectedly, it focuses on his experience and on the fact that he can do for Democrats what they consider the most important thing, beat Donald Trump in the General Election:

Joe Biden is airing the first TV ad of his 2020 presidential campaign in Iowa Tuesday as part of a six-figure television and digital ad purchase in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

The sixty-second television ad entitled “Bones” highlights the former vice president’s work alongside former President Barack Obama and paints President Donald Trump as “an erratic, vicious, bullying president.”

“We know in our bones this election is different. The stakes are higher. The threat more serious,” a narrator says in the ad. “We have to beat Donald Trump and all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. No one is more qualified.”

“For eight years President Obama and Vice President Biden were an administration America could be proud of, our allies could trust, and our kids could look up to,” the narrator says. “Together they worked to save the American economy, to pass the historic Affordable Care Act, protecting over 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.”The ad, which is being released at the start of Biden’s sixth visit to the Hawkeye state, will run in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Quad Cities and Sioux City markets and will be accompanied by a digital ad campaign totaling nearly six-figures over the next few weeks, according to the campaign.

Here’s the ad:

The main message in the ad, that Biden is the candidate best able to unite the country and beat Trump in November 2020, was also the theme of a talk that his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, gave on Monday in New Hampshire:

Jill Biden laid out the political calculus of her husband’s presidential campaign in extraordinarily blunt terms on Monday, directly acknowledging that some voters may prefer other candidates but urging them to support Joseph R. Biden Jr. anyway, in an effort to defeat President Trump.

As Mr. Biden, the early poll leader, works — and sometimes struggles — to excite a Democratic base that has moved left since he last ran for office, Dr. Biden, campaigning in New Hampshire, called on Democrats to prioritize perceived electability over enthusiasm for individual contenders or their policies.

“You may like another candidate better, but you have to look at who is going to win,” she said, addressing a gathering of educators. “And if education is your main issue, Joe is that person.”

“Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care than Joe is, but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election,” Dr. Biden said. “And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘O.K., I sort of personally like so-and-so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.”

Her remarks were first reported by NBC News.

A Biden aide noted that Dr. Biden had also said that many people in the room were not sold on her husband — a suggestion that she was simply trying to persuade.

“I know that not all of you are committed to my husband, and I respect that, but I want you to think about your candidate, his or her electability, and who’s going to win this race,” she said, pointing to polls showing Mr. Biden with consistent leads.

(…)

Many political strategists caution that it is far too early for general election matchup polling to be predictive of the outcome in November 2020. Still, Mr. Biden’s allies have pointed to several surveys that do show him ahead of his rivals in matchups against Mr. Trump nationally or in key states including Ohio.

He and his allies often argue that of all of the Democratic candidates running, his more centrist approach, potential appeal to independents and longstanding ties to labor would help him win back states Mr. Trump won in the industrial Midwest.

Dr. Biden’s unvarnished emphasis on pragmatism reflected that bet, even as many other candidates believe that the way to defeat Mr. Trump is by energizing young voters, particularly younger voters of color, through boldly progressive policy proposals.

“Electability is not only the most important issue, it’s virtually the only issue,” Dick Harpootlian, a South Carolina state senator and longtime friend of Mr. Biden’s, said about Dr. Biden’s remarks.

Asked whether he perceived the comments as an acknowledgment of enthusiasm challenges for Mr. Biden, Mr. Harpootlian replied: “This is not an admission of anything. It’s an admission that he is the strongest person to beat Donald Trump. That’s all it is.”

It isn’t surprising that the Biden campaign with start off its ad buys with a message focused on electability and the idea that the former Vice-President is the one best situated to beat the President in 2020. Since basically the start of the race, polling has shown fairly consistently that Democratic voters are most concerned with selecting a nominee who can win in November 2020. They rank it higher than selecting a nominee that they agree with the most, the nominee with the most detailed and appealing policy platform, or the candidate who is the glibbest and most articulate on the stump. All of this works to Biden’s favor.

There is a risk in this strategy, of course. If voters come to doubt a candidate’s electability, or if they stumble in the campaign in a way that calls into question their ability to take on the incumbent in the General Election then the entire logic for their candidacy fades away. This, I think, is why Biden dropped in the polls after the first debate in which he appeared to shrink the face of attacks from Senator Kamala Harris. Since then, though, Biden has been more aggressive on the campaign trail and did far better in the second debate than he had in the first. If he can keep that up, then he could remain the Democratic frontrunner for some time to come. This is especially true if Senators Warren, Sanders, and Harris continue to fight among themselves for the support of the party’s progressive wing of the party. As things stand now, Biden’s biggest task will be to stay on message. As long as he does that, he could end up being virtually unstoppable.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    He won’t beat Trump.
    Trump will own him.
    Trump will say something childish…then Biden will respond with something just as childish…then Trump will win that round because he has no pride.
    Are we going to live the next year or so discussing who can do the most push-ups, or who would whup up on who out behind the woodshed?
    This is THE most election in the history of this country. We are at a tipping point that decides where we go from here. The stakes are too high to count on an old man who has clearly lost a step or two.

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  2. Kylopod says:

    I remember during the 1996 election how Lamar Alexander kept referring to himself as “the only one who can beat Clinton.” Alexander was never a front-runner for his party’s nomination, but this sort of boast is always a weak reed on which to base an entire candidacy.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    OT…but worthy of note:
    It seems the slow down of job growth under Trump is worse than we already knew…by half-a-million jobs.
    https://www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cesprelbmk.htm
    This is an annual adjustment by the BLS, and this years is > than average.
    Another indication of the greatest economy in history.

    ReplyReply
  4. Guarneri says:

    I see Biden announced that Bobby Kennedy and MLK were assasinated in the late 70s.

    Electable.

    ReplyReply
  5. Gustopher says:

    Calling yourself electable is like calling yourself cool…

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  6. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    Calling yourself electable is like calling yourself cool…

    I think I get what you are saying (boasting about having this quality precludes truly having it), but in a way it’s kind of the opposite. “Electable” candidates are generally not the cool ones. They’re the Bob Doles, Al Gores, Mitt Romneys of the world, as opposed to the Bill Clintons or Barack Obamas. Electability is something you boast about when voters don’t find you particularly hot or exciting. It’s essentially claiming to be the grownup in the room.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    A political scientist named Rachael Bitecofer was on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show the last two nights. O’Donnell declared her to be his second favorite Rachael. She’s the woman who nailed the 2018 midterms, predicting a 40 to 42 seat gain in the House when everyone else was wringing their hands over whether Ds might squeak out control.

    She’s already predicted a minimum 267 EC vote victory for whoever the D is with any toss ups on top of that. Her methodology is all about turnout and she sees turnout as now driven mostly by negative partisanship. She sees policy as almost irrelevant. The path to victory is not to persuade confused moderates but to motivate Ds and D leaning Is to vote. Trump’s base is hugely motivated. They’ll turn out. There are more of us. Biden seems far from the ideal nominee if she’s right.

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  8. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    She’s already predicted a minimum 267 EC vote victory for whoever the D is

    I didn’t watch the O’Donnell segment, but what I read from her website was that her minimum was 278. Basically, her model has the Dems at minimum holding onto all the 2016 Clinton states plus winning WI, MI, and PA. That’s 278 EVs right there, a clear albeit narrow victory. As she puts it, “Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency.”

    http://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/2019/07/01-2020-election-forecast/

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  9. Teve says:

    @gVOR08:

    She’s already predicted a minimum 267 EC vote victory for whoever the D is with any toss ups on top of that. Her methodology is all about turnout and she sees turnout as now driven mostly by negative partisanship. She sees policy as almost irrelevant. The path to victory is not to persuade confused moderates but to motivate Ds and D leaning Is to vote. Trump’s base is hugely motivated. They’ll turn out. There are more of us. Biden seems far from the ideal nominee if she’s right.

    I didn’t see that segment but I did see an analysis of her work which concluded that the idea that you can turn opposing party voters by becoming more moderate just didn’t play out in the numbers and there was far more to gain by sticking to your principles and turning out your own base. I can get behind that.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: I was working from memory. I expect you’re right about the number. In any case it argues for screw moderation, let Democrats be Democrats.

    ReplyReply
  11. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    In any case it argues for screw moderation, let Democrats be Democrats.

    I agree up to a point–but it’s also important to realize that “moderation” is defined differently by different people. Matt Yglesias recently wrote a piece arguing that, contra the conventional wisdom, Trump in 2016 ran as a moderate, because although his positions on immigration were extreme, he eschewed standard GOP positions on issues ranging from the social safety net to LGBT rights. What I think Yglesias misses is that this combination is not at all the standard image of a “moderate” that the mainstream media promotes. That kind of “moderate” is usually seen as someone who’s culturally liberal but fiscally conservative, the kind of Beltway centrist who thinks the most important issue of the day is reining in the deficit. The MSM wrongly imagines this to be widely appealing to the general public, largely because it fits their own ideological preferences. In reality, the opposite combo is a lot more widespread.

    Trump exemplifies what Ta-Nehisi Coates has called white populism: he ran as the candidate of whites who feel left behind in a country they see as overrun by POC, feminists, environmentalists, and “political correctness.” It’s a crowd that generally couldn’t give a damn about corporate tax cuts or deregulation and may even be the beneficiaries of some of the welfare programs the GOP seeks to do away with.

    According to CNN’s 2016 exit polls, among voters who wanted the next president to “be more liberal” than Obama, 23% voted for Trump. In Michigan it was 41%.

    I am not totally won over by those like Bernie Sanders and Bill De Blasio who argue that the Dems can win the WWC back by becoming less of a corporate party and more aligned with the interests of the working-class. This argument overlooks the crucial element of race and other “identity” issues that have helped push this demographic away. After all, the last president to win the WWC was Bill Clinton, not exactly a left-wing purist. But there’s no question Hillary was hurt by a perception of being the candidate of Wall Street, and while Dems aren’t likely to win the WWC outright anytime soon, they at least have the opportunity to hold down the losses, while focusing more broadly on turning out the Obama coalition of minorities, younger voters, and college-educated whites.

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  12. An Interested Party says:

    I see Biden announced that Bobby Kennedy and MLK were assasinated in the late 70s.
    Electable.

    Compared to the senile dipshit that is your hero? They’re like two peas in a pod…

    “Barring a shock to the system, Democrats recapture the presidency.”

    What if the shock to the system is interference in the election from a hostile foreign power…

    ReplyReply

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