Joe Biden is running for president in 2020. Here’s everything we know about the candidate and how he stacks up against the competition.

Former Vice President Joe Biden. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Who is Joe Biden?

Current job: Candidate for president.

Age: 77

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.

Joe Biden March 2
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren perform slightly less well among Biden supporters as they do among Democrats in general. While generally they are understood to have significant political differences within the party, about 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 shared perception of electability, or merely a note on how early it is in this race.

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.

Read more about how we’re polling this here.

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.
    • Biden supports a healthcare plan that would build upon the ACA, including an expansion of the public option.
    • The plan would also not allow pharmaceutical corporations to avoid negotiating with Medicare over drug prices.
    • Consumers would be allowed to import drugs from other countries, which the Biden campaign says would promote fairness.
    • He opposes Medicare for All, a proposal that would make the government the main health insurance provider for Americans. Its made him a frequent target from left-wing candidates like Bernie Sanders.
    • During the July Democratic debate in Detroit, Biden contended Medicare for All would be too expensive and reiterated his call for building on Obamacare by providing a public option.
    • He doubled down on his more healthcare moderate approach in the September Democratic debate and criticised Medicare for All being pushed by rivals such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “I think we should have a debate on health care. I think – I know that [Senator Warren] says she’s for Bernie, well, I’m for Barack. I think it worked,” Biden said.
  • 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.
    • Biden defended the Obama administration’s record on deportations when confronted about it during the September Democratic debate. “The president did the best thing that was able to be done,” Biden said.
  • 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.
    • Biden released a host of new climate change proposals, but came under criticism for having copied several passages from outside sources without attribution.
    • Biden had an awkward moment during a CNN town hall in September when he was asked how he could be depended on to take on fossil fuel companies despite plans to attend a fundraiser hosted by the co-founder of a liquefied natural gas production company.
    • “I was told by my staff he doesn’t have any responsibility related to the company,” Biden said in response to the question during the town hall. “If that turns out not to be true, then I will not, in any way, accept his help.”
  • 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 reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from providing for abortions. He now supports federal funding 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.
    • Biden in October unveiled a $US750 billion plan that would make two years of community college tuition-free.
  • 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 offences 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.
    • Biden opposes legalizing marijuana because he said it might be a “gateway drug,” despite the fact research does not support this perception.
    • Biden’s campaign has said that as president he would “decriminalize marijuana use, automatically expunge prior possession convictions, support legalization of medical marijuana, and allow states to set their own rules about recreational use.”
  • 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 authorise the Iraq War, but has since spoken out against the decision.
    • At the July Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Biden said of his vote in favour of the Iraq War: “I did make a bad judgment.”
  • 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.

How much money has Joe Biden raised?

According to campaign finance numbers released by the campaign, Biden has donors from every state, US territory, and congressional district. The campaign also said 97% of donations are under $US200, with two-thirds being under $US25.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Biden raised $US22.7 million.

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.

Where does Joe Biden poll best?

Based on the 12 polls conducted by Insider since late August, we can gather a sense of the geographic regions where candidates are overperforming when it comes to how satisfied voters would be if they were chosen as the presidential nominee. Though the first four primaries are in the Western Midwest, New England, the South Atlantic and Mountain regions, the four regions that allocate the bulk of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention are the South Atlantic (16%), Pacific (16%), Mid-Atlantic (16%) and Eastern Midwest (15%).

Voters in the South Atlantic region were most satisfied with Biden as a candidate at a rate of 5.7 percentage points over other regions. He also does well in the East South Central (+3.3 percentage points) and Mid-Atlantic (+2.5 percentage points). He polls worse in the Mountain region (-4.6 percentage points) and Pacific (-2.4 percentage points).

By area maps

How is Joe Biden viewed by different wings of the Democratic party?

Biden does especially well among those who identified as slightly liberal or neither liberal nor conservative. He lags his rivals among those wo identify as very liberal.

By political views table

How is Joe Biden viewed by voters compared to the competition?

Insider has conducted a number of other polls to check in on how these candidates are perceived in comparison to one another. When we asked respondents to one poll to rank how far to the left or to the right they considered the candidates, Biden was generally considered to be one of the more centrist candidates in the field, coming in 10th place among the 20 candidates then polled. Biden was by far considered to be the most experienced candidate in the field when we asked respondents to rank the candidates based on how prepared they are for the rigors of the presidency given what they knew about their history of public service and experience with government. And when asked how likable or personable respondents perceived the candidates to be, Biden again emerged on top.

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, typically about about two thirds say they think Biden would win, which is roughly double the overall average for the Democrats we asked about. Zooming out to all respondents, not just Democrats, about two in five thought Biden would beat Trump in the general and about the same amount thought he’d lose, with the remainder not sure.

How do Democratic voters feel about Joe Biden’s qualifications?

Insider has conducted polling about how voters feel about candidate attributes or qualifications. We asked respondents about a list of possible qualifications and if they made them more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate for president.

For example, among respondents who said they’d vote in the Democratic primary, 19% said a candidate being a college professor made them likelier to support them, while 4% said it made them less likely to, for a +15% net favorability. We can then see how different candidates’ resumes stack up compared to those preferences.

Attributes perceived as most valuable include his released tax returns (+43%), time as Vice President (+39%), middle class upbringing (+36%) and 20+ years of government service (+21%).

Attributes considered to be a liability based on the preferences of self-reported Democratic voters include his status as a foundation owner (-4%), his vote for the 1994 crime bill (-8%), his age 70 or over (-24%) and vote for the Iraq War (-30%).

Joe Perticone contributed reporting.

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