Did Joe Biden get lucky in 2020? | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

Galen Druke reflects on key moments in the 2020 race with the authors of the new book, “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won The Presidency.”
52:56 | 03/11/21

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Did Joe Biden get lucky in 2020? | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
Hello and welcome to the five party politics pod cast ideal injury. The chaos surrounding the 20/20 action meant that one story wood often some plant and other before we fully had time to process the first story. To give me an example here at fart 38. In early march of 28 we had plans for an audio documentary reports detailing the 72 hours between the South Carolina primary. And Super Tuesday. When then candidate Biden went from an underdog to practically the presumptive nominee. As you may know from listening to this pod cast that report never actually. But pandemic sent us in the lockdown and totally up ended. So today with the benefit of hindsight and some time to breeze. We're gonna reflect on those kinds of key moments in the 20/20 it's. And you're me to do that are the authors of the new book lucky I'll Joseph Biden barely won the presidency. The book is the first big reported account of the 20/20 campaign in its entirety. And the authors accurate mean our Jonathan Allen senior political analyst with NBC news hello Jonathan welcome. Revere. And also with us is Amy par n.'s senior correspondent or Vince hill welcome any get out. Eight Pratt and I want to begin we have the period in late February slash or remarks that I just match so Biden had come in fourth in Iowa fifth in New Hampshire and then second in Nevada. Our forecast at 538 said he had about a 15% chance of winning the nomination. What was happening inside of the Biden campaign just before the South Carolina primary. After those first three contests rover. Wheel. For starters there isn't about a debate. Michael Bloomberg is gaining traction if you were not Americans. Getting worse and he was carrying out a financial backing you did. To being sort of moderate candidate rays I'm in the bottom folks were not liking it ethics act they were. Afraid of what we acted not if Mike Bloomberg's chances were reliable and so what Elizabeth Warren's aunt sue enter Elizabeth Warren and get instant about it to me it's what she does she completely takes out Mike Bloomberg. It was critical to fighting campaign a sort of look at what book ads on one side and engine clobbered cops and a hybrid. Obviously key. Going and seeing South Carolina act. What's going on behind the scenes with Joseph Biden is he's trying to get desperately trying to get Jim Auburn to endorse him clobbered imports the democratic whip in the house he's been. Member of congress for your basically since the early 1990s. From South Carolina the most powerful. Black Democrat in the country. You know by by terms of being the whip democratic whip in the house. Certainly most powerful player in democratic politics in South Carolina and I think. You know pretty would. Broadly known. Among political observers and the set of folks who vote partners on the barge trying to get his endorsement for months. And Clark were to holding off them to wait till after the self delighted to be here with the big night for. Of the Congressional Black Caucus institute which is one of the sponsors. In February alone wall. Baldness is going on them and Biden's had a tough run in Iowa New Hampshire. And the Nevada. Caucuses are starting to unfold Cedric Richmond the co chairman of Biden's campaign goes to Cliburn says you gotta give in now. We need your help there may not be a campaign if you don't give him. And really push by informed South Carolina and then fast forward clapboard still do mirrors but it's not ready yet. Fast forward to the night before the South Carolina debate which is a few days before the primary. Cliburn has just Clinton Ad for Biden but it's not released it yet. Has not given his endorsement yet and he meets with Biden in a couple of other people a couple of the numbers the Congressional Black Caucus combined stoppers. On a ship in in Charleston harbor and its USS Yorktown. And their husbands conversation about what Biden needs secure clobbered scuttled some place warm but Harvard says look. Jordan will want you to do is a melts in the debates morrow that you will nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court. And this is not. Explicitly any sort of quid pro quo but it is the political ask the Cliburn is making as he's kind of holding onto this endorsement of Biden knows it. And he put Harvard up releases an interesting idea and then Biden goes back to his job that I should do this in this stuff there's no doubt are those who vote senators were with senior. African American staffer says there's no way you should box yourself into doing that. As you were at and that's very pollen gets on the debate stage in South Carolina. Cliburn watching from the audience he watches Biden pass on several opportunities to say this. He gets. Agitated and he once backstage during a commercial break finds bargains is don't you dare leave this stage without saying. Without saying you're gonna nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court and of course clever still hasn't actually given the endorsement of what the cell. So Biden gets back on stage and awkwardly kind of gets it out and says yeah that's editor of in nominate a black woman for the Supreme Court. The next day clever goes out endorses Biden and rather than a people statement saying Bard's my guy he gives us very impassioned endorsement we talked about how his late wife while Joseph Biden. And the rest just kind of history she bargain when by the us more humility nobody predicted in South Carolina. Figure the poll shuttle about 1215 points. Biden won 49% after the second place finisher was in the in the high twenties were a certain low twenties or high nineties. So I want yen on net that Cliburn endorsement because I think at this point the conventional wisdom is that it changed the course of the nomination process. If you look at the polls before Cliburn ever endorsed so. On the you know on February 26 the day of Clymer Clymer and endorsement. Biden was first in our South Carolina polling average he was leaving Sanders already by double digit now of course biting did end up winning by somewhere in the range of thirty points. In South Carolina but it seemed like the tides had already earned before climber and actually meet the endorsement because he. Had been and still was very popular amongst black voters in South Carolina kind of regardless of climber. So does the Biden campaign after this happens actually see Cliburn as pivotal or do they feel like they could've won South Carolina without. I think it definitely sonnets that pivotal moment. And out people who listens in on us I think it's not that they could barely beat you mean South Carolina that they would win. But it wasn't going to be yes big win. And what the Cliburn indoors and effectively did what sort. It helps kind of not doctors down. It rocks excited me. The other folks who were at the campaign get out of the race quicker I think that their lives. A little bit of word yet Bernie Sanders can't it is the kind of in play and so you have a lot of people just coalesce around I think quicker then. Many anticipated at eight because of that horse and it because it was so solid. There is a difference between. Women by ten points from winning by thirty reports from the perception of people in like where where does that. All of (%expletive) between. A kind of middle and victory in a very decisive one. And the answer is I don't know what the number is but I know that the Biden people believe the Cliburn help get them from. Yeah he won South Carolina he's still alive to. All right this guy is on fire. And what will we saw from other campaigns were taught to other hear opinions. And to the Biden campaign they couldn't flights the change that was going on the speed of the change into their models. They're getting new information and and they use all kinds of data to try to project what's gonna help announcers use your pictures are those fourteen states and American Samoa which only Mike Bloomberg I guess cared about as thick you could boat from America smoke. But what they were seeing was something that I think none of us that are releasing them politics was which was such a dramatic change. Essentially from you know with 72 hours but essentially from wonder. What held the Biden campaign strategy being. Originally and did this play out. As the camp and act kind of an act added accepted early on that Iowa New Hampshire might not be good states for the campaign and that it would paint on. You know having a lot of support amongst black voters in South Carolina and perhaps more support in a state like Nevada as a more diverse populations while. Yeah me the south Carolina's is there aren't buying you heard him say it's happened again but there's a cap. I think they didn't expect to do so badly portly aimed. And New Hampshire and you could see that mean means you tell her worrying. About what was going on inside the campaign they were running out of money at what point aids. I didn't if they they told me I need to refinance its homes. He wasn't eating it or isn't he needed he was also athletes and the mentally you lands. For starters there's Sox who building around his campaign manager because they were executed properly. And I think that he personally seen it he wasn't. Drying the crowds that he needed. There was one in accident where he comes off the seats at the liberty injustice to the and CE. And leases on his eights were basically not us trying people they eat his audience was very there is no it really in its proud. It was a lot smaller than its competitors so I feel like a lot of this why are they going their way and this is order wet. The people inside campaign sign. Eight they clearly expected Steve better bet. Four place and I classic place in new answer. And in addition to that it just. You're there are optimistic view of all of this. Was that eventually they would get to South Carolina and Super Tuesday and Biden's African American support word would catapult him. They certainly didn't see the degree to which they were hit that low is that you were saying north picture they were too they really expect quite high that they got. A one of the things we report in the book is that their data analytic selector doctor Siegel. Very early on in the campaign identified Alabama's seventh district is sort of the pulpit district for Baden if some majority African American months from Montgomery ups were Birmingham. Represented by Terri Sewell in the house and the idea of Alabama seven was. If Biden can get that boost. And get to a place where he's not just winning African American voters are really. Winning super majorities developed an American voters. They can do what's call rush holding the other candidates in the with the democratic delegate who now works. In the congressional district or state issue Katrina guilin. If a candidate does if no candidate gets or any candidate doesn't get 15% of the vote in the district. Or straight statewide bit of getting the delegates. And so if you're running a multi candidate race you don't even have to get to it he 5%. To win all the delegates you just need to make sure that you are above 15%. And no one else is about 15% and they saw districts like this. All across the country are particularly Congressional Black Caucus district and so when you think about Jim Cliburn. He's a little bit of a Bellwether. Of the black community I choose your point earlier. He is somewhat following his his own constituents. But he's also an influence or and it's not just the influence that he house himself. It's important to the Congressional Black Caucus of which he is the most prominent member of the walking a former chairman of the caucus. The house democratic whip on them one of my favorite scenes in the book is actually on Super Tuesday. When Cliburn invites. I'm members of the Congressional Black Caucus to kind of keep score on Super Tuesday with them in the whips office in the capitol. And they were divided. In their in the Lincoln room and there's a wall between the Lincoln room and Statuary Hall we're all these statues to confederate generals and to Jefferson Davis. And the ascendant power of the Congressional Black Caucus and them and the people that the Congressional Black Caucus represents. In that moment where there are essentially choosing the democratic nominee and ultimately putting Monica from the presidency. Is is just a really stark contrast with. You know those confederate statues right outside in Statuary Hall. It's actually the 72 hours between South Carolina and Super Tuesday that I'm most interest there right because of course. Biden are performs his polls in South Carolina. Now Super Tuesday is of course three days later. In those intervening 72 hours you have booted judge dropped out of the race and spartans have Klobuchar drop out of the race and in spite and and it's kind of the results from Super Tuesday that really put Biden on the path. To being the presumptive nominee right if he had if faltered after South Carolina if more people had stayed in the race the could've been a contested convention it may not have been you know that Biden. Basically by the time the corona virus across the country was the presumptive nominee. So I want to know what happened in the rose 72 hours how involved was the party in getting. We to judge and Klobuchar to drop out of the race getting endorsements from others like bad who had been out of the race for a while. What was happening. Within the party apparatus during those three days from South Carolina to Super Tuesday. Let that cook. The first thing is yes. The party was very involved the establishment of the democratic party for months was worried the orange Sanders was gonna either win the nomination or force a contested convention. That would be very ugly to take the nomination away from him if he went into the couldn't convention. With a plurality of delegates but not a majority the idea that somebody else would win the nomination could tear the party of pardon and guarantee. Trump a reelection so there's a lot of concern about that we saw that. Going into that period of time. But what you saw as soon as South Carolina was in. Was Barack Obama activate. And he wasn't the only one people to judge decides basically overnight the night. Following the South Carolina primary that was Saturday night that night. He decides basically that is gonna get out he's gonna give himself to the morning's talk to his aides on the scooter himself to the morning to decide. He decides it is the dual but it doesn't and Nelson goes up breakfast with Jimmy Carter and Jimmy Carter is in his own. God will this way telling people it's time to get out of the race is like you've run a wonderful campaign bought. And peeps like way to figure to be course talked it carried out. Obama ends up calling polluted judge actor booted judge announces is getting out. Oh before he endorses Biden and Obama's messages. It's time to endorse you're not gonna have leverage after Super Tuesday you're gonna look really bad if you stay in. Biden amid the same call and rejected the nor Biden and Obama came and it's kind of happy. Obama tried to get in touch with Amy Klobuchar she's she declined his phone calls. But she knew what she knew what they were rebel you're going to keep in mind as all of these here period operatives within a party. On different campaigns they all talk to each other in the talk to the same donors. And so once the idea that it's time to coalesce. Gets out they are there's a lot of contact going on among the campaigns about how to make that happen. And that's basically what what you saw and acted over the course of three days now. The sitters folks who look at it and say the establishment rigged the game believe that the written the way that we looked out of his more. This was the moment where. Most of the establishment including Barack Obama would stayed away from Biden for now to elections in a row. Decided that it was time to opponents of muscle even house Islam. The news fundraising director Obama's fundraiser Drucker from 2012. Send out email to all the Obama donors showing us the time to get them behind Baden so. That's basically what you saw over the course of those 72 hours. How did Sanders reacts to that maneuvering and warrant for that matter to you because both of them are still in the race at this point. I mean do they see this as sinister or did how did they try to like be back this kind of party decides moment within the Democratic Party. And don't want later he had 26 you know obviously and not a threat at the bath and my hand on these candidates act. What I think happened was you pat Obama coming in a little and water hockey to you Bernie Sanders. He had four conversations they ate at a time. And kind of talking to him about what it would Tate. Four and seen get out of the race and what. Concessions. Needed TV and what the former president kind of plea. Honest order refereeing and a kind of mediator between. The tea parties he didn't want to. Still didn't want to exit the scandals that he wants to be helpful and it ain't they also ordered song writing on the wall 48 at eight that you. Bernie Sanders and rob really kick me through Nevada but they're obviously wasn't how creek and going forward after about it and they also. No one wanted to see Donald Trump went again as an accident site the housing needs are net. Reachable Sanders who took a lot of blame from some of the establishment for 2060 fair or not. Blessing triggers wanted to do is muted position worry went down as having helped elect Donald Trump twice so this. Basically. Wraps up the competitive fortune the democratic primary by the time the next contest on. March 10. We've already been sent into lockdown and our 530 forecast of the primary should Biden would essentially a 100% chance. Windy out action. So I do want to progress the general election but before we do that actually want to. Wind to you 2019. Because there was a whole year worth. The invisible primary as scientists like to call it before any of this actually. And sort familiar them invisible primary is when candidates. You know seek out donors and endorsements from party leaders gives speeches hone their messages. And so. So you know. What was that. Period of time like horror Joseph Biden because you'll be hot trackers out art thirty tracking all of the endorsements and all of the fundraising throughout the invisible primary. Key is not getting the kind of endorsements you would expect from you know up. Somebody from the party has coalesced around during this in this primate peers diesels are being. Really we are fund raised by a lot of different people. So how is the campaign speaking about this period of time. As you mentioned he was failing to get endorsements we we talked about how he went city leaders like outs are again. Stacey Abrams tried to get their endorsements early on couldn't quite do it even hits. Or her partner former President Obama. He kept saying I I asked. Obama not to support you endorsed mean we found out in the book that that conversation never happened according excellent very close to Obama. But he's trying to line up. The financial backing he's not quite. He finds out he's not quite prepared his even his launches a little bit lackluster. There is any thread. There is in the week end and that is needed to go forward but his message is. Resonating with some voters and that message is essentially that he is the only candidate who can mean. I mean can be Donald Trump and so that is were read his back. And what he's leaning on that everything else really wasn't like Africa in the way that we can't campaign we would ask. Who were a party leaders point four. There were split I think that we know who's in the book Obama sort of a device like a Greek chorus. I'm his audition look like much of much like the rest of the Democratic Party. He's wrong about his puppet shirts his political calculation here it's a little wrong he picks that Biden. Is in a potentially good and there are some salt on the camp central tarnish both of their legacies. You know who he's he's one person Hillary Clinton. Convict the Biden was going to be able to get it done. 24 other Democrats didn't than Biden was going to be able to get it done. The other usual troop and get some Donald Trump them think you'd be able to get it done and we do tell this in the book and am part of the story of Joseph Biden winning the democratic nomination. Winning the presidency or republic holding. You know and Tuesday you know injury in a regular months between the election and and the inauguration. I'll part of that story of what he is this. This kind of incredible. Combat that it's hard to describe without a lot of different things aligning and I sort of think of it like. You know why does some if you've got baseball fans out there on the sort of negative side out of failure why does Clayton Kershaw. Seemed to fail in the post season told us this last policies and why does the greatest pitcher in Major League Baseball fairly conservative pure local way to describe that. And I think the answer is that there's some. There's something else you know that there's some all in addition to the science. That is important in politics. And the people who made judgments about whether Biden was gonna have that. Quote the sides of campaigning down and the are you going to be here community the people behind a bill ball that he was gonna have trouble with their. That's at the scene and have any support. But he certainly didn't have as you suggested the support of somebody that I have the establishment behind them fully. And he didn't have obvious there support that a two term former vice president. Would expect. Out reasonably expect. So. The way to your talent Obama is concerned with electability when he's thinking about who should be the nominee and having discussions with doors and things like that at first he's sort of a booster for better work and then he's explaining why war in could have a good shot. And you know. One quote he says of our people to judge is pace he doesn't yes good chances he says he's quote he's the mayor of a small town he's gay and he's short. So all work never even makes it to the primaries war and never won a single primary and would a judge actually went on to win Iowa. Although that wasn't really clear at the moment that it happened and mediate would have done even better in New Hampshire I didn't clear so. You don't where is Obama getting his sense of what electability books like within his own party because it seems like his. Senses were. Wrong. I think he was drying on its own campaign. And sort of a guy I think you're related to Elizabeth Warren can't needs to its ranks as early a good campaign act's it was act. He came out but I think that certainly was leaning on and he he also just at the same time. Saw that his old vice president wasn't gonna get that job done and could through pain. Not only embarrass himself in and that ruined the Obama I didn't. Legacy and so I think that got us in the back. My feeling you behalf want an exhibit book where you you just referred see where we're years or stinging words phrases. He is senate that's scenes you know little bit and he forgets his own vice president when he's talking to her room block donors. That was sort of eight window. And they kind of look into what he was speaking at the time yes he was wrong me he he didn't expect I didn't go as far as he did it and number of sources that. Those are you sort of going I think everything went where youth speaking at a time. -- Obama's a better candidate than he is a clear point which is. Hillary truth most of us and our jobs were better than other jobs and we are predicting the future. And god for those of us for whom our jobs are predicting a future. This. Thing's a yard pass that on and I'm not declare our partner. The question here is you know Biden didn't have the money. And he didn't have the overwhelming support. The party but if you look back at the primary. Braves polling in 2019 he's leading nationally almost the entire time on one hand what happens in February it is seems like. Your proof that the party does decide right they held up behind Biden in Beecher he was the last one standing. But all of 2019 none of the party leaders were behind him it was the voters were it was you know national polling that showed regardless of what happened he kept the leading. So how should think about this primary system out an ad what matters and what else. Whether it's important to remember the book. We that he had was always a plurality and fluctuated little ready come up as high as 40%. He fell down into the world twenties at one point when Warren popped up electric there to remind them. But you're right it was consistent that. More of the party wanted him than anybody else in the sort of had to go through this process of elimination. To get to the place where he really had a majority the party behind him and he you know short of a contested convention you really need that. And there are all countless factors that go into who's gonna succeed news gonna fail. But I did what Biden Biden had two things that I think are really important one of them is. Very measurable and the other is a little less measurable measurable pieces his coalition was moderate whites and African Americans. And that is. A coalition that you did a Democrat needs to win the presidency. And part of it was self reinforcing in that I think a lot of African American voters and talking to a lot of African American voters. Felt like one of the reasons to nominate Joseph Biden to broker Joseph Biden. Was that he seemed to be pretty popular with moderate whites which made him more likely to be trawl. Which was after all the number one goal of all of the Democrats and I think he was able to sustain that. The first two pillars of his coalition. Kind of threw well the whole process I mean what is said there was a little fluctuation of the peace. It's perhaps a little less impure pools is his messaging was so consistent from the store clerk I. Who is known for lacking discipline for a guy who Barack Obama looked out and bought. This guy's a gaffe machine helping me get through this Obama great order looking nearby dorm like how can this guy to what I did well Biden did from the different into the well. He carved out a message that was. Somewhat ever done but also. I think. Out what he could do for other people which was a controversial or some comedy and some called for the country. And he stuck with that he was able to take all the to from policies and put them under into that bucket Macvicar to construct. It's very important for candidate to be able to explain to people what is it that your gonna do for them that is about Ben and what they want. And it's what we think that Hillary Clinton failed to June. Effectively in 26 team group of previous book shattered. And you know our vote or sort of make inclusion is what they're a lot of things that went into her loser who we think the biggest actor was actually that her slogan and a lot of sports hall. Outside the slogan was I'm with quote which was about oral not a backhoe. What she was gonna do for the people of the Biden really kicked. Not only horror but well and consistently throughout the primary and the general election. It's interesting that you say that because you don't it early on in the book you describe some criticisms that invited pat of Clinton's campaign. You know in particular that she didn't seem to have a strong message. When I hate when it look back at a particularly Clinton's message was stronger together and Joseph Biden's message was restoring assault nature. There's about the really amorphous things that seem to have something to do what like all of us together. Something something something like it seemed like they actually had. Really similar messages that largely were not prompt worse some kind of feel good collection of things that just isn't Donald Trott. It seems like you see it differently Amy do you do you think that they ran similar campaigns because the message interviewed and seem different. It did that it didn't eyes and take your client. But I think that he was also enables you break it down and say look I'm not Arnold strong and I'm the only one who can be Donald Trump and I'm the only one who can. Verdict but deeper I hadn't. How united country and not was particularly active danger and act. I went people and it needed to see yet he alerted key they weren't really getting heard Donald Trump. And he's telling people she intact police. People just wanted some sense of normalcy. So I think a lot of battles that led but I think what he he did. Sort of seek you was true to himself and me is. The key here whereas Hillary was sort of all over the place and doing really knew what she stood for I remember at this. Saddam Hussein there was a wall in her campaign office backpack Palestinians everywhere and it's an item for this and I've forgotten what really knew. What essentially she wants war. By the U kind of it could break it down it became a little more tangible and he became. Known as sort of this guy do this apathetic diet the man for the moment who can help it bring the country. Rock. That's right. Problem and it's a chorus is that congress priority. And it's important to remember doing that stronger together with her second earth over. Try it that message was really her general election message. And the fact that she went full room. A couple constructs for worst. Vs Biden who had that consistent soul of the nation message all along. I think everybody's too though they can anyway depending on who's talking a little bit it can lend the authenticity that interview was talking about. To you if your message in the primary at the very good in the primaries the same as what it is at the end. I think the Clinton folks were trying to figure out how how we win folks people in Iowa now how do we win people in New Hampshire. Now how do we an African American voters now we put together a general election coalition and you saw her. Slogans and or messages changed morale kind of a vault. Words Biden's was the same. On the very worst day of his campaign I think it was probably the day after related New Hampshire's cupid show into a million bucks in the bank. He might have to reflect its itself. As it was on Super Tuesday as it was. You know during the debates with Donald Trump and as it was ultimately on election. As I mentioned earlier the competitive part of the democratic primary ends just as the corona virus pandemic is spreading across the country and causing businesses and schools and life in general today shocked out. And that is essentially ran. The general election weekends. I want tick kind of start with a broader question here which is when you look at the whole lane to route the general election York from march to November. The thing that is so striking is just how stable the race is despite everything that happens rate. We're in a pandemic there ought to bear news the police killed George Floyd there's protest bears. A regional reckoning in the country. You know. All the weight you unit justice didn't Ginsburg ours in the fall trump gets called it I can't remember everything happened the polling so steady. So eat your reporting word there are moments that the campaigns saw. As actual dean changer is despite all the steadiness in the polls. No I think that's the whole thing that everything happened and yet nothing and there is no big that news didn't you know either way. Don't I think you're absolutely. Well registered one exception to that is program in the president's handling and I mean it's quote to you measure that in. In polling opt out the horse race. Effectively because it unfolds over such a long bunkers on the morning things. You weren't able to measure and horse race is the solidifying effective of events somebody who might mean Biden becomes harder Bardner somebody who might have. Been hard trumpet suddenly becomes. Potentially persuade wall and the people inside the campaign so we talked to including pollsters did in the lyrics folks campaign. Their top campaign. Operative types. All of them believe double talk her consult with its response to Covert. Whether that's the Biden team the trumped him other political analysts we talked to. And that it's yours it's hard to pinpoint like this is the week were that changed and the polling. But you Tutsis you know Biden's national beads moved from Mike. Nine points to six points and in an election that gets an initial public this little bit election returns on. 43000. Votes over for restates in the Electoral College. Three point national polling percentage change is actually huge. Yeah and it's funny because I don't even big bend president trump realizes the effectiveness can't act. It is. Reelection prospects back. You we haven't seen in the book where he's talking to its campaign manager at the time cracks down. And Brad is essentially telling him. This is gonna be here doing it since the early years he didn't quite understand the gravity. He says that base be active what does this half. After the team that politics anyway. Which is. Sort of its Hollywood minute. Yet so obviously Covert as a backdrop to the entire general election and you have a quote from by an advisor and needed done in the book. Where she says quote cogan is the best thing that ever happened. Meaning I can't. Now you know this this kind. Help support. The thesis or the title of your book which is lucky. Kind of this idea that Biden got lucky in in meaning. Nomination and ultimately. The general election you know what struck me in reading about that purity it. The general election where Hogan spreading across the country. Is that really it seems like how to watching you win trumps governance style and not just law because if you look at you know foreign leaders. Their approval ratings skyrocketed because they were seen as competent it also happens. On the state level where Cuomo for example and other governors like Gretchen what recourse scene is handling the corona virus cult. So you would think it's not just the pandemic right today decrees as Titanic it's specifically Tribe's governing style which has more to do with one of the candidates in the race. Than actual block so so you know thinking about it that way was desperately luckier ones trump just not good at handling the biggest crisis of the campaign. Well but in order for people to see that stark contrast in the concept of competent governance. Of horses while. Trump was doing in the in the aftermath of Covert it had to be something huge was people on the on the average day the average American. Is not spending a lot of time thinking about other government operates we've shoot a lot of different models. And certainly in recent years for Howell president wants his or her while he gets his administration. And what you see you with Schwab is this extreme. Evidence. Of the gross incompetence. On the end of the lack of compassion the Biden was talking W Democrats have been talking about that about cultural. For a long long time and not getting sucked Holland of visible traction on radio mean trumps numbers didn't like. Plummet. You don't over various things like Ukraine. Into the impeach him cellblock so. Gross incompetence and governance really needed a crisis in order to to show. Those contracts the Biden had been talking about it in our own bubble of relief I think that really drove it home from work. The average voter I mean a 150 million people voted. A 158 million people are not paying attention to every twist and tone of our government action. So the way you see it do you think Biden would have lost were it not for the pandemic. I think a couple of our sources even people who write in campaign. Acknowledged this months they weapons arsenal and starts kind of alliance. Everything from can't act arm. Eight top mishandled it. It closes it was a referendum against Donald trop acne acne let. Yell Yahoo! isn't it. Yeah everyone's talking about is being said out only need to come out because it'll sit down that other folks are coming into her aunt and minority communities. So I think that was Kiichi and I think that was in the hot I can't hop artist well. And it's Collison on comparable to think about the pandemic is being walked before political candidate and future point yellen. There was an opportunity for Donald Trump pure too really increase. His his electability. By handling a well. By showing compassion one of Biden's closest. Cop but also but he talked to him all the time said to us. If chalk had just shown a little more compassion as late as September October just a little bit. He would've won reelection. And so it's not just because from all take on it. The people inside the campaigns believe this the people on trumps I believe that many of them tried to tell him that he needed to pictures show a little more compassion. You saw him a couple of times coming zigzag along that. But he always went back to worry was that he would interviewed already defeated the virus essentially. And that in a 50000 a 300000. Deaths. Was not that many because it could have been much more I'm which you know to sell all pointing to most people. But I'd unwilling to look we care for a -- we'll hear from the counter factual. I don't know how many runs my shortstop saves verses. You know no shorts o'clock. Exactly or precisely but I picked our judgment based on interviews with people in both campaigns is there. Without coded trump while we were three election. So apart from the pandemic the other major reorientation. Events of 22 point eight where the protests after police killed sorts Floyd and the ensuing conversations about systemic racism. Across the United States. How did Biden. Navigate the divide between the activist laughed at his more moderate instincts. During that period of time it seemed like he was getting a lot of different parts from a lot of different people about. How to. Deputy this period. Yeah and it we're we're Amazon book one of the biggest conversations happening and I can't dean unity that. The primary and the general begins he as a whole slew of people company suits can't you know art its people. A lot of them are prominent people but they are essentially tightness and Exel laughed a little bit on. On these issues on successful tosses its news and he's not really new being. At peak and that's sort of when everything he was shooting himself in his message before. I think that. People this basket with time hates this Scott brown and had hit and perhaps this isn't dead guidance is it when he's gonna do. And of course he did it. That people were it. Called tax for a crime bill his role in it. He hates you. Toppled a little bit more reluctant. I don't talk more shots fire police. He didn't go for that he explained get a little bit more its really quite news since he was really consistent in his views and his. Does this sense. And it'll be interesting to see if he continues to be that way. In in the white house with his administration. And this is really crucial Dylan because you know if you book. Where Democrats want to be and where they think the country should be. On issues of justice. Joseph Biden's perception was that the country wasn't quite there. It wasn't there are four to fund the police not only that he didn't just say I wanted to fund the police he said I'm putting more money. Into putting police on the street. And he understood that this was a powerful political issue. With important. Important part of his potential coalition certainly many of the Republicans that are coming to the democratic fold because their organs from. But if you look at where Biden won. In Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin. Where there them majority of his change from 2016 columns. You're talking about educated suburban whites. And they are much more likely. To cure somebody saved to fund the police and how the negative reaction to that. Than a lot of other segments of the democratic. Our coalition and so it only I look at Pennsylvania where and why insurer whose votes compliment Pennsylvania and in twenty. Twenty in terms of the change reported sixteen it's Chester Delaware and Montgomery county's. Which are at largely educated white suburban counties between Philadelphia and Delaware. In Philadelphia the city itself. He trump actually did better than 20/20 than he did in 2060 news sort of the majority black. Part of a pro Pennsylvania's so. Here you look at you look at Milwaukee where. Where Biden was getting fewer votes in the African American communities and Clinton did in 2016. But much more vote in Dane county Wisconsin which is around Madison real a lot of educated white suburban. Suburbanites like. You look at this Michigan Detroit plot Biden got fewer votes than Clinton didn't when sixteen just slept through growth even as he got. 2120 through 23% more quotes across the country. He got fewer votes in Detroit and so. What you see in this is Biden had an understanding that he. Couldn't Italy in the the suburban white population that was with him. And that he thought that performed the police and apologizing for the crime bill would be stepped to form. And we ourselves in the local two Zhu's report. We're Jim Clark and talk to John Lewis on the house floor. And Clark Griffith to lose what do you think about the people in the police thing and Lewis says. Burn baby burn killed us meaning the nonviolent. Civil rights movement that sort of a vault into the more aggressive. I'm civil rights movement by the weight sixties you know brewers was. So planted. That's Mitt. By Stokely Carmichael as suburban reborn killed us. People in the police is gonna kill black lives matter. Because he thought the slogan was soon damaging to the goals of black lives matter and what you super Biden campaign. Is them embracing some of the goals so police reform. Without getting to that point where they're like touching the electrical. A wire. So we've gotten out sued the actual results the 20/20 election and you don't. Looking at one of governors in most notable changes between 2016. And 20/20. Was the swing amongst Hispanic bars are bite and did somewhere in the range of nine point worse. When Hispanic voters than Clinton did. What does the campaigns understanding. Of why that happened and at what point did they realize. That this could be a problem. I don't think they ever really realized I pain as I mentioned earlier a thought that. Trop would it really going to cede that territory kind of took them by surprise the little that. And I think that's one thing that Democrats will eats you look at this going forward I think this election was a bit of an anomaly. I mean that for once for starters they had to re paid to write a playbook. How to win there and done it. But they were also opposed to someone who is so controversial and so can tax us and I was definitely area got caught them by surprise. Intro really did well with economic messaging with. Obviously the various Latino populations right I mean. There are some some would you go through have been in the states have been living since. Before they were states and there are some people who I've come more recently naturalized citizens and who talk about it a real. A real spectrum of people but. Trucks had to do pretty well I'm particularly itself fla. Insult Texas. And some other please visit with economic messaging and so much of the democratic messaging to Latino voters. Is about immigration issues. And people who were not citizens to. Votes so there's there's an asymmetry in the messaging rite liquors compassionate message coming from the Democrats but I think a lot of platoon of voters care about. But every what you know voter whether there citizen or not well no matter how long they've been here they care about the economy Olympic hopes messaging on the economy and particularly. His message that Democrats would create a sort of a socialist country you know were again whatever that nightmare scenario is. Was was effective with a lot of Hispanic voters. Particularly those that came from white American countries where you have. I'm extreme swings sometimes in the politics. And populist extreme swings from right to left. Aaron and they become very destabilizing and so I think trumps message. Really resonated well also Biden spent all the time with that original coalition talked about moderate whites and African Americans. And at some level in the primary party was pretty centers was so targeted toward. I'm younger voters but particularly Hispanic voters to to his coalition from last time. The Biden wasn't talking about. Issues of importance to particularly young with you know voters during the primary and when you want talked to by a candidate. You often alienated from their candidate a vigorous on the verge of cult from Biden's Mickell for in the general. So we've covered a lot of ground here but perhaps the most memorable part of that when it election will be happen after the polls closed. Which is that it took four days before the networks called it trump with used to concede. And then launched a campaign on many fronts to overturn the results of the election. This climax supports an attack on the US capitol I'd front supporters in an attempt to stop counting it Buick or halt arms so. A lot happen and that is when we think of that's when it went electric power lines compact. How prepared was Biden's campaign for all that's happened between early November or reject. Do we midnight editorial decision in this book that we work in a buy into global. This election. Had fraud war bureau. We knew that trump like after November 7 when it was called by the network's renewed a trump was going to do everything that he could to upset. You know that the transfer of power entrants take sovereignty away from the American public. And we just decided we're not gonna elevate couple on writing about it because we thought it was disgusting. Frankly all that sent to your original question. By instruments girder prepare for this they went out to the networks before the election answered don't call it earlier it's gonna look like trumps then there you go red mirage is Paul. And then eventually Democrats more democratic votes are counted particularly in Pennsylvania. And so they were able to hold off the networks were well as it turned out that may have been a bad thing for them in the public perception. Because that might have been declared earlier at the networks were primed to law for a while. But also they had an extensive. Network of lawyers and unions and democratic activists. There were there to challenge would ever trump was during wherever he was doing across the country and you know I think one of on west told stories of this of the post election process is just how organized that effort was. On the part of not just the bike impaired but the Democratic Party. And its allies overall. I don't think any op that it would be asked close is that wives and not lists or and AT away. From this whole thing and we at. People inside the campaign wary eye out saying. I knew it was going to be close I didn't know would need ends up being close. And it shows the sort of what they were thinking at that moment they all were kind of parked train conquered it confidence going forward it. Yeah that they hot it thank I think that you're going into that night eight lead into that ain't going needs the next day they were kind of answer. So just wrapping up care we're now in the Biden presidency is all behind us what lessons about what for politics to the by nineteen Butler. From 20/20 and how do you expect that to shape their governments. I think that's a really good question and I think that it's it'd be interesting to me. How this sort of claim if not acting Basil Jackson was a bit of an anomaly as an action before I don't think anything you can certainly indicted but I think it was. A bit of a one off. But I do you think that there are lessons be learned to keep the party is going so you. It's still going it's almost it's together in a Wang. And and there will be you lessons about. How far left or how hard sanitary goes and not asking Easter. The history at the vessel accident like how this kind of catapults and see what the Democratic Party will be. Nike Pitney got stuck there for the good of the party obviously. Took over and will face yet to be done and I think that's sort of the bigger story coming out of that the lesson. I don't know micro level. You know we're taught to campaign operatives for all of the information that they have at their fingertips all the data that they coming in. They still feel like they're not really and we quote. Are we don't local review we have some thought of general knowledge on the campaign manager who can obviously talk to lot of people that they really. Don't have it down to an exact science than their ability to predict the outcome. Here we know that data and we extreme for the Biden campaign predicted going into the Election Day that he was gonna win. Not only the states that he won but also. North Carolina. I'm which you lost by point man. Now I'm knowing the correlation between states for them to be a couple points all on North Carolina just shows you how close are they were in some of the other states are quarreling with that. Arm and so. I think there's a real desire on the part of the Democratic Party. I'm particularly those who do campaigns like to figure out helps you reach your jobs. For their inability to kind of mill district precisely did you feel like there were some vision grew from 2016. Where they believe they were in better position going into Election Day and they worry in the final I'll come. And you know. There's still kind of figured out they tried to do in this campaign. They readjusted their models Mitt you know in the summer. They basically try to readjust their model so that they were. They were basically. Adjusting its of the bill performance in their models was force among. Less educated whites. And better among. Among educated whites then public polling ones and they stolen mail. Yeah well we will see if that it is an anomaly that's related to trump. Or not perhaps in the next election depends on whether or not trump one runs but. The story continues as it always does with these elections cycles but let's leave it there thank you Indians and yeah yeah. They're new book is called lucky how Joseph Biden barely won the presidency. My name is -- injury to reach out is in the virtual control room Claire editor Curtis is on audio editing. You get in touch what you Mellon asset podcast at 530 dot com you can also of course greeted us with any questions or comments. If your fan of the show because of Reading a review in the apple podcast or. Or tell someone about us thanks for listening and we will seize. Yeah. And.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"52:56","description":"Galen Druke reflects on key moments in the 2020 race with the authors of the new book, “Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won The Presidency.”","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/fivethirtyeight","id":"76397986","title":"Did Joe Biden get lucky in 2020? | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast","url":"/fivethirtyeight/video/joe-biden-lucky-2020-fivethirtyeight-politics-podcast-76397986"}