Former Vice President Joe Biden would trounce President Trump in a presidential election, but his raw popularity with the electorate might not be enough for Democrats to give him the nomination in 2020.
Biden would beat Trump 46 to 35 percent, according to a recent Morning Consult Poll. He has the highest approval rating among potential Democratic nominees, with 71 percent. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren comes in second, with 51 percent approval.)
He is hugely qualified, Newsweek pointed out on Wednesday: "Of the 1,971 people who have served in the U.S. Senate, only 18 have served longer than him. As the longtime chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden was on a first-name basis with most of the world leaders before he became Obama’s veep. He’s spent more than 100 hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and heads of state still call him. In February, his foreign policy think tank opens in Washington, and he just co-authored a treatise in Foreign Affairs magazine on how to contain Russia—something the Oval Office’s current occupant seems to have no interest in doing."
Biden has also minted affection for his ebullient, slightly loose-cannon demeanor — witness the countless "Uncle Joe" memes — and for his anti-cancer crusade in the wake of his son Beau's death from glioblastoma in 2015.
What could hold him back? His age — he's 75 now. His decades in Washington don't appeal to anti-establishment Democrats who favor Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. His co-authorship of the 1994 violent crime bill, which led to high rates of African-American incarceration, could depress the black vote.
And then there's the #MeToo movement. Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. He was accused of not doing enough to shield Hill from Republican attacks and not allowing women to testify in support of her allegations. The Internet has a long memory. Alongside the Uncle Joe memes, there are images of Biden touching women in ways that seem to make them uncomfortable. "If Biden runs in this post-Weinstein era, he will have a strong record to run on," says the Daily Dot, "but there is no doubt he will also have to contend with his past."