May 1, 2019

Joe Biden is running like he won the Democratic primaries

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser

In the opening days of his 2020 campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden has gone all-in on the general election, positioning himself as the eventual Democratic nominee rather than scrapping with the 19 other wannabes. 

Why it matters: This isn't an accident. Biden strategists believe the former V.P. has the luxury of thinking long term rather than scrambling for liberal street credibility. 

  • Polls show a huge bump, including with African American women. (CNN: "Biden solidifies front-runner status with post-announcement bump.")

Biden's "people" tell me they're more convinced than ever that the one dominant, ultimately unifying issue is who can best be counted on to beat President Trump.

  • And they think that's the guy from Scranton.

The strategy is unfolding in real time:

  • Starting with his announcement video and continuing on the road, Biden has been explicitly hitting Trump, trying to make it Trump vs. Biden more than a year ahead of the national conventions.
  • Biden has been making the argument for his strength in swing states that'll matter in November 2020, not during primaries and caucuses.
  • Biden isn't getting sucked into the intra-left debate over "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal.
  • The subtle suggestion that Biden would amount to a third Obama term offers voters hope for something between socialism and Hillary Clinton. 
  • Biden is appealing now to big donors he'll need in a general election. 

The big picture: Several 2020 Democratic campaign aides conceded that they wouldn't be able to pull off the same strategy as Biden.

  • Biden, and to some extent Sen. Bernie Sanders, can jump straight into focusing on the general election because Democrats already know what they're getting.

Be smart: Biden is applying a lens to the campaign that reflects national polls more than the left-leaning conversation on Democratic Twitter. 

Go deeper:

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.