Speculation over a Joe Biden campaign in 2016 has been mounting since the 2012 election day, when the vice president told reporters wondering if this would be his last time voting for himself, "No, I don't think so."
The veep has yet to explicitly address whether speculation over a future presidential bid is malarkey or not. And though he is famous for offhand remarks and has nearly a full term left in office as vice president, it's not too early for the Democrats to think about election 2016. With many campaigns taking the better part of two years — if not longer — Democrats looking to retain power in 2016 may do well to consider a Biden run.
To begin with, statistics are on Biden's side.
Five vice presidents have later won an election (George H.W. Bush in 1988, Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Martin Van Buren in 1836, and Richard Nixon in 1968), while only three have lost a presidential election (Richard Nixon in 1960, Al Gore in 2000, and John Breckinridge in 1804). If we divide the number of vice presidents who become president by the number of elections, the next vice president to seek America's top office has a five-eighths, or roughly 63% chance of winning. Not bad.
If one goes ahead and considers Al Gore the winner of 2000 election, having lost the electoral college and not the national vote — a failure that boils down to a matter of campaign strategy and not popularity — Biden's shot at winning the presidency looks even better, as he would enjoy a six-eighths, or 75% chance of success.
The political argument for a Biden campaign is thornier, but he still ends up on top.
Sadly, future events cannot be taken into account, ones which will certainly decide the outcome of the next general election. The Republican Party is in flux right now, making it difficult to determine what their primary will look like, and thus who may emerge as their nominee.
One can in good conscience, however, pit Biden against fellow Democrats. The media has flirted with three potential Democratic candidacies: those of Hillary Clinton, Mayor Julian Castro and Biden. Of these three (should they run) Biden appears most likely to win the upcoming election.
Julian Castro has received a lot of press, with many quick to suggest he may be a "Latino Obama" of sorts. Even the Democratic Party seemed to suggest history was repeating itself when they slated Castro to give their 2012 convention's keynote address. Yes, he's young. Yes, he graduated from Harvard Law School. Yes, he could mobilize the minority vote. But the fact remains: the San Antonio mayor is as of now much less experienced than Obama was when he ran, having served only in municipal government. In 2017, he will be only 41-years-old, six years the Illinois senator's junior when he assumed the presidency in 2008. If Obama had difficulty arguing he was experienced enough for the "3 a.m. call," you can bet Castro will will have it much worse.
Hillary Clinton would prove a far tougher general election contender than Castro. Despite last year's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, when four Americans died, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, she maintains widespread respect. The former secretary of state has a strong domestic and foreign political background, and a 69% approval rating. She would also benefit from the popularity of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who stumped for Obama at last year's convention and on the campaign trail. Still, unlike Biden, Hillary Clinton would be returning to presidential politics from a hiatus, and only around four years after her recent blood clot.
Though Biden, 70, is around four years Clinton's senior and suffered a blood clot and two brain aneurysms in 1988, his health problems are not fresh in the memory of the public, and he has served as vice president for the past several years without any major health setbacks. Biden might not be the most inspiring presidential candidate and he certainly wouldn't be the youngest in 2017 at age 74. In fact, upon his inauguration, he would be the oldest first-term president, beating Ronald Reagan by a hair.
Yet, assuming his health remains intact, Biden's politics would prove a reliable bet. Having presumably learned from his 1988 and 2008 failed bids for president, he would enter the 2016 race with a long legislative record and a solid reputation. Like Teflon, Biden has bounced back from even the worst of gaffes, even his gently racist comments about the candidate Obama in 2007. Plus, he'd already be second in line to become president, a distinction no other candidate could boast.
All things considered, Biden is a top pick for the Democratic establishment in 2016. Journalists may be only folks happier to hear about a Biden bid for the presidency, with its promise of grins and gaffes for every American.