Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Who is Joe Biden?
Current job: Candidate for president.
Family: Biden is married to Jill Biden, an educator. Together they have a daughter named Ashley. From Biden’s previous marriage to Neilia Hunter, he has a son, Hunter, and daughter, Ashley. While married to Hunter, with whom he also had a one-year-old daughter named Naomi, the two were killed in an automobile accident in 1972. Biden’s other son with Hunter, Beau Biden, died in 2015 after suffering from brain cancer.
Hometown: Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Political party: Democratic.
Previous jobs: Vice President of the United States from 2009-2017; US senator from Delaware 1973 to 2009; public speaker; author.
Who is Joe Biden’s direct competition for the nomination?
Based on a recurring series of national surveys we conduct, we can figure out who the other candidates competing in Joe Biden’s lane are, and who the broader opponents are within the party. We can see which other candidates’ voters Biden will have to court to run a successful campaign.
- Biden is well positioned in the race, as many people who would be satisfied with him as nominee are unconvinced about almost all of the other candidates in the race. Typically, we see that fans of one candidate often like another candidate in the race more than your typical Democrat, generally because those two candidates share an ideology, identity, or geography. Overall, this isn’t the case with Biden.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren perform about as well among Biden supporters as they do among Democrats in general. While generally they are understood to have significant political differences within the party, half of people who would be satisfied with Biden as nominee would also be satisfied with Sanders as nominee. This may be read as either a credit to their perceived electability, or merely a note on how early it is in this race.
- Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke round out the top four, but Harris and O’Rourke actually do considerably worse among Biden fans than they do among those who say they’re going to vote in the democratic primaries more generally.
INSIDER has been conducting a recurring poll through SurveyMonkey Audience on a national sample to find out how different candidate’s constituencies overlap. We ask people whether they are familiar with a candidate, whether they would be satisfied or unsatisfied with that candidate as nominee, and sometimes we also ask whether they think that person would win or lose in a general election against President Donald Trump.
What are Joe Biden’s political positions?
- On healthcare:
- Biden was vice president during the crucial negotiations that produced the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
- While many candidates have embraced new healthcare plans like "Medicare for all" and public option buy-ins, Biden could stick with the ACA as it was originally intended, or modernize it to adjust to the many ways in which the law has been undermined and broken apart through court decisions and various pieces of Republican-led legislation.
- On immigration:
- Biden voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which built additional walls and barriers along the US-Mexico border.
- In January 2019, Biden said "We need border security but that’s not the border security we need" in reference to the wall Trump demanded lawmakers give him the funds for to end the partial government shutdown.
- Biden was also vice president when former President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants taken to the United States as minors.
- Biden has rejected giving drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants as recently as 2007.
- On climate change:
- Biden supported the Paris climate accords, which the Trump administration abandoned in 2017. Biden has called the Paris accords "the best way to protect our children & global leadership."
- Unlike many of the far-left Democratic candidates, Biden has not endorsed the Green New Deal, which would usher in radical transformations of the US economy to reduce human impact on global climate change.
- On campaign finance:
- Biden has taken credit for advising Bernie Sanders not to accept donations from corporate PACs, but has not made any pledges himself for the 2020 race.
- He wrote in an op-ed for Politico magazine about the dangers of dark money groups from foreign donors into super PACs.
- "Campaign finance reform is certainly a necessary part of the solution, but so too is disclosure of beneficial ownership and greater transparency in real estate transactions," he wrote. "As matters of national security, these are issues that should be of interest to both Democrats and Republicans who want to reduce our vulnerability to foreign corrupt influence."
- On abortion:
- Biden is a practicing Catholic, but maintains that access to abortion should be legal.
- He has said that "abortion is always wrong," but he is not willing to impose that belief onto others.
- In regard to late-term abortions, Biden has consistently been against it.
- Biden has also maintained support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from providing for abortions.
- On LGBTQ rights:
- Like most politicians on both sides of the aisle, Biden had historically opposed same-sex marriage. Before it became legal in the landmark 2015 Supreme Court case Obergfell vs. Hodges, Biden said he was "absolutely comfortable with" same-sex marriage. Biden’s remarks came before Obama announced support for it as well.
- Biden is also a supporter of allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military, an Obama-era policy the Trump administration has rescinded.
- On education:
- Biden supports free college educations, marking a total of 16 years on the taxpayer dime.
- He has also been a supporter of universal kindergarten and pre-K.
- On guns:
- Biden wants universal background checks, including on secondary, peer-to-peer sales.
- In 2012, he was appointed to head the Gun Violence Task Force in the wake of the Sandy Hook attack. The group put forth new regulations on magazine size limits, stricter penalties for trafficking firearms, and new tools to prosecute gun-related crimes. These proposed reforms failed to become law.
- Biden has said as recently as 2017 that rifles like the AR-15 should be "taken off the streets" but has not gone into specifics about what that would look like, whether in the form of bans on future sales or through confiscatory programs like mandatory buybacks.
- On criminal justice reform:
- Biden ushered in multiple bills that imposed mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses during his time as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1980s.
- He has gone on record defending his role in shaping and passing the 1994 crime bill, which many Democrats now oppose.
- On trade:
- Biden voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump has repeatedly excoriated and threatened to unilaterally withdraw from.
- He supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and urged lawmakers to pass it during Obama’s final months in office.
- Biden is typically a supporter of free trade, bucking calls for protectionist policies like heavy tariffs on various industries.
- On foreign policy:
- Biden was an ardent support of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran and key allies aiming to limit their nuclear proliferation program and has lambasted Trump for withdrawing from it.
- He has rejected inviting Russia back into the Group of Seven, saying that it "makes no sense."
- Biden supported the Obama administration’s drone strike programs in Syria.
- He said he argued against military intervention in Libya in 2011, saying that it could become a "petri dish for the growth of extremism."
- Biden voted to authorize the Iraq War, but has since spoken out against the decision.
- On taxes:
- Biden wants higher taxes on wealthy Americans’ in key areas like passive income.
- He has also argued for boosting tax relief for middle class families, including expansions of the Child Tax Credit.
What are Joe Biden’s political successes?
- Biden served as chairman of two influential committees during his career in the Senate, including Judiciary and Foreign Relations.
- He Introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994.
- He was elected vice president twice, in 2008 and 2012.
Could Joe Biden beat President Trump?
Referring back to INSIDER’s recurring poll, Joe Biden overall is believed to be the strongest candidate in a general election against Donald Trump by Democrats. For most candidates, a majority of respondents are unsure of how the person would fare in the general, but not Biden. Among those who said they were probably Democratic primary voters, about 70% said they thought Biden would win, which is roughly double the overall average for the Democrats we asked about. Zooming out to all respondents, not just Democrats, a majority (55%) thought Biden would beat Trump in the general and 9% thought he’d lose, with the remainder not sure.
Read more of our stories on Joe Biden:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden is running for president in 2020, warning that another term of Trump would tarnish America’s soul forever
- Democrats are getting ready to ramp up their fight to get Trump’s tax returns — and it could get ugly
- The GOP tax cuts could help Trump get reelected in 2020, even though most Americans hate them