Why Smokin' Joe leads the pack of 2020 Democratic hopefuls

Why Smokin' Joe leads the pack of 2020 Democratic hopefuls
© Greg Nash

Presidential politics has as many wild swings as the New England weather. Watch out for the nor'easter that will hit hard in 2020.

When Americans turn on a president, they often turn to a candidate who is completely unlike the chief executive they object to. A born-again Christian Jimmy Carter followed "Tricky Dick," Richard Nixon. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama: Are we a nation that rips families apart? Another chance to seek the return of fiscal sanity to the halls of Congress Colombia’s new leader has a tough road ahead, and Obama holdovers aren't helping MORE came after George W. Bush and our current chief executive Donald Trump succeeded a president whose positions on issues was a world apart.

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Could a politician with 36 years as a United States senator and eight years as vice president follow a president who had not one iota of government experience before he was elected?

 

A new national poll conducted by CNN indicates presidential role reversal is a possibility. Only four in 10 Americans approve of Trump's performance.

There are two tiers of support for possible Democratic presidential candidates. Biden leads the first tier with the support of more than eight in 10 (84 percent) Democrats who say they might support his candidacy if he makes the race.

Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Trump's America fights back The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix MORE of Vermont (75 percent) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElection Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Dem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy MORE of Massachusetts (68 percent) follow the former vice president in Tier No. 1.

In Tier No. 2, about half of all Democrats say they might support Sens. Kamla Harris of California (53 percent), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy To strengthen our democracy, we need to remove obstacles that keep students from voting Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit MORE of New Jersey (50 percent) or Kristen Gillibrand of New York (48 percent). None of the other possible Democratic candidates have very much national name recognition.

Biden seems to be here, there and everywhere lately. His high profile suggests he is considering a presidential race in 2020. He has exchanged pointed personal barbs with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE, the former vice president popped up at a March For Our Lives rally in Delaware and earlier this year he embarked on a national tour to promote his book "Promise Me Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose".

Biden has been dubbed "Smokin' Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden: Trump family separation policy could make the US a pariah Elizabeth Warren can unify Democrats and take back the White House Giuliani doubles down on Biden comments: 'I meant that he’s dumb' MORE" by a late-night comedian. The war of words with Trump is very telling. Biden compared the president to "the fattest, ugliest SOB in the room." When i saw Biden's comments, the first thing I thought of was Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Richard Painter puts out 'dumpster fire' in first campaign ad Bill Clinton says 'norms have changed' in society for what 'you can do to somebody against their will' MORE's book, "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot." The former vice president told a crowd in Miami that "if we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him". 

But some Democratic insiders have criticized the former vice president for not being presidential — whatever that means. But Trump rode to the White House with tough talk. Why shouldn't it work for Uncle Joe? Americans want a chief executive who can dish it out and take it too. Presidential politics has never been an exercise in etiquette.

The spat works well for Biden. It reinforces his reputation for being outspoken, even though it gets him into trouble sometimes. Voters admire politicians like Biden who say what they think without being politically correct. It worked for Trump in 2016. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump mocks 'elites' at campaign rally Trump backs down in rare reversal Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE always sounded programmed so people didn't see her as authentic. That won't be a problem for Joe. The give and take with Trump also elevates Biden over other 2020 contenders. Blunt talk also plays well with blue collar voters in the Rustbelt. Democrats need these people in 2018 and in 2020.

I saw Biden on his book tour and went in very skeptical about the possibility of a retread running for president but he looked and sounded great. 

Biden spoke of his son's struggle with cancer and how it affected the family and his plan to run for president in 2016. Biden said he had decided to run and then changed his mind when Beau was diagnosed. It was very touching.

Biden's pitch was that America had a great future even though things now under Trump are very ugly.

This cynical and jaded political observer was surprised and impressed. The place was packed. I expected an older crowd but many millennials enthusiastically responded to his pitch. 

Biden's biggest challenge will be the millennial mobilization that is shaking and shaping the Democratic Party. I'm a rabid yellow dog Democrat but my party does need shaping and shaking. A young Democrat like Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral Fourth Senate Dem calls for Nielsen to resign over family separation policy MORE or Cory Booker will be big players in 2020. Both senators have been outspoken critics of Trump. They are young and Harris hasn't been in Washington long enough to be tagged as a political insider.

Biden will also have to compete against another candidate in his own generation, Bernie Sanders, who has a strong following among millennials.

The March for Our Lives was an indication that young people are starting to engage in the political process. God bless them. Many millennials see Biden as part of an antiquated political system. If Sanders doesn't run, former Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbad may also emerge as credible candidates.

The presidential campaign begins in earnest on Nov. 7, the day after the midterm elections. So we'll find out soon if a seasoned pro or a fresh face emerges in the Democratic contest.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also a senior advisor to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com, a social media network for politics. Contact him at brad@bannoncr.com