Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has endured a long and bruising campaign, with repeated attacks on his policies, his family, his mental faculties — and, often, sustained doubts even from those inside his own party.
Democrats spurned him in the early primary season contests and worried throughout the fall in a general election that began with Biden under fire for campaigning mostly from his basement. Party factions feared Biden would fail to shore up the Democratic base or that he had lost a step because of his age. Allies fretted he would stumble in debates with President Trump and that his gaffes would give ample material to his tenacious opponent.
But the circumstances of this campaign — a pandemic and an economic collapse costing millions of jobs and making even the still-employed feel vulnerable — have pushed the race in the direction of Biden’s strong suits and against his deficits, shining a bright light on his empathy and sober experience and casting his flaws into the shadows.
He has emerged with more Americans viewing him favorably now than at this time last year, the opposite of the usual trajectory of a campaign and far different from the circumstances that faced Hillary Clinton in 2016. He holds a national lead approaching double digits and narrower but stable leads in many battleground states. He enters the final stretch with far more money to spend than Trump as he reaches for the pinnacle of a political career, one that has eluded him twice before.