Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race to become the Democratic nominee on Wednesday 8th April and the battle for the US Presidency between Donald Trump and Joe Biden began in earnest.
Biden’s first act was to reach out to supporters of Bernie Sanders.
Offering an olive branch to those who voted for your opponent during a primary is a feature of all winners’ campaigns, but the fact that Biden used his first post on instagram following Bernie’s concession to request reconciliation – rather than celebrate or thank his own supporters – is an indication of the importance his team are placing on unifying the party.
Biden followed up his words with action; the next day he announced new policies on Medicare eligibility and student debt cancellation designed to appeal to Bernie supporters.
Analysis of the 2016 Presidential election showed that 12% of people who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primary went on to vote for Trump at the general election, rather than Clinton. As Sanders won around 40% of the popular vote, that is a result-changing volume of people.
Given Clinton’s failure in this area four years ago and Biden’s relatively strong appeal with non-partisans, his team may be more worried about his popularity with younger and more progressive voters (that Bernie appealed to) than with floating voters who backed Trump in ’16.
However, Biden isn’t forgetting about the rest of the nation. Two days after he became the presumptive Democratic nominee, Biden released a new video – ‘Faith’ – which reintroduces the candidate to the country with a narrative that neatly combines biographical details of the candidate with the biggest issue facing the country.
Trump’s team marked the Easter weekend by releasing their first ad attacking Biden since Sanders dropped out.
It is a crafty piece of communication which accuses Biden of supporting China economically – whilst implying that he benefits from it personally – and suggests that the Democrat opposed restrictions on people travelling from China at the outset of the Covid-19 crisis.
If you wondered how direct The Donald would be in his attack ads on Biden’s cognitive faculties, this really answers that question… Given that a major pillar of Trump’s attacks on Clinton in ’16 was her physical fitness for office, we should all expect Biden’s brain function to be a constant theme in ’20.
The ad is also full of misleading information… in case you wondered if that would be a feature of Trump’s campaign this time around too…
The battle for the White House 2020 is well and truly underway.