Democratic U.S. presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign drive-in, mobilization event in…
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at a campaign drive-in mobilization event in Flint, Mich., Oct. 31, 2020.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic fixture on the American political scene for nearly a half century, could be on the cusp of winning the White House on his third try.     

National surveys and polling in politically important states have shown Biden leading incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in the last days before Tuesday’s election.    

Analysts say Biden has more paths to winning the 270-vote majority in the country’s 538-member Electoral College that determines the winner in the country’s indirect form of democracy. The most populous states hold the most sway in the Electoral College.      

If Biden wins and is inaugurated in January 2021, he will become the country’s 46th chief executive. By then, he would be 78, the oldest U.S. president ever elected, surpassing Trump, who was 70 when he entered the White House. Biden failed to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008, drawing little support either year.     

FILE - Four-year-old Beau Biden, foreground, plays near his father, Joe Biden, center, as he is sworn in as the U.S. senator from Delaware, by Senate Secretary Frank Valeo, left, in ceremonies in a Wilmington hospital, Jan. 5, 1973.

A senator from the small eastern state of Delaware for 36 years, and President Barack Obama’s second in command for eight, Biden defeated two dozen other Democrats for his party’s 2020 presidential nomination.  

Coronavirus campaign 

During the unchecked coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., he has conducted one of the most unorthodox campaigns in recent U.S. presidential election history.    

Unlike Trump, he has shunned the traditional large-scale political rallies and instead staged smaller events, often with supporters socially distanced by a safe 2 meters and wearing face masks. In addition, he has delivered numerous campaign speeches from near his Delaware home.    

Biden has relentlessly pilloried Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and claimed Trump does not deserve to remain president after presiding over the country’s world-leading death toll of more than 230,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. He said Trump had “raised the white flag” of surrender against the coronavirus.    

Reforms 

Trump has countered that Biden is representative of the worst of Washington: a career politician. At two debates, Trump contended that Biden would be beholden to the views of more progressive Democrats if he is elected, and among other policies, would advance “socialized” government-controlled health care.  

Biden has said he opposes a government takeover of health care but would work to improve the Affordable Care Act adopted in 2010 during the Obama administration. He said if elected, he plans to appoint a bipartisan commission to study court reforms. But Biden insists he is “not a fan” of a proposal favored by the progressive wing of his party to expand the size of the Supreme Court in order to appoint more liberal justices.  

This push for “court packing” comes in the wake of the confirmation of the third Trump appointee to the court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a staunch conservative. Her Senate confirmation leaves the court with a 6-3 conservative majority. 

President Donald Trump watches as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas administers the Constitutional Oath to Amy Coney Barrett on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 26, 2020.

Biden has campaigned as a reliably left-of-center politician. He stands for enhanced environmental programs and a re-engagement with traditional American allies overseas.  

In a year marked by the brutal death of a Black man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police and the subsequent wave of protests, civil unrest and violence throughout the country, Biden offered detailed proposals to advance racial economic equity and reform the criminal justice system. 

FILE - Murals appear throughout New York City in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, June 10, 2020.

The one-time chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee also apologized for his part in the passage of 1994 anti-crime legislation that substantially toughened sentences for crack cocaine possession, which disproportionately punished the Black community.    

‘Soul of America’ 

Throughout months of campaigning, Biden has said he wants to put an end to Trump’s “aberrant” administration.      

“We’re in a battle for the soul of America,” Biden says on his campaign website. “It’s time to remember who we are. We’re Americans: tough, resilient, but always full of hope. It’s time to treat each other with dignity. Build a middle class that works for everybody. Fight back against the incredible abuses of power we’re seeing.”     

“It’s time to dig deep and remember that our best days still lie ahead,” he says.   

“It’s time for respected leadership on the world stage — and dignified leadership at home.”       

 If elected, Biden almost certainly would rejoin several international accords from which Trump withdrew, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear deal aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear weapons development. 

Right-hand woman 

Months ago, Biden promised to pick a woman as his vice-presidential running mate and followed through with the selection of California Sen. Kamala Harris, who is the first Black woman and South Asian-American on a major party U.S. national ticket. She is only the fourth woman ever selected for a national ticket and the third selected as a running mate.     

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Harris, who dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination before any state primary elections were held, has proved to be an able campaigner, adapting her more liberal policy positions to Biden’s more centrist views.