Political Issue: Joe Biden: building bridges

Kate Schreiber, features + in-depth editor


“I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t drink bleach.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden indirectly attacked President Donald Trump’s statement at a press conference in April in which he said, “I see the disinfectant where it  knocks [the coronavirus] out in one minute. One minute. And is there a way we could do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” The tweet has been liked more times than any other tweet from the former vice president — 1.6 million to be exact. Even in the realm of social media, Biden seems to gain the most attention when he makes a remark disparaging President Trump. 

Ever since President Trump was elected in 2016, social media has become an increasingly important means of communication, showing support and discourse. This year, the stakes are high and both candidates want to dominate the headlines. 

Joe Biden tweets from his personal Twitter account @JoeBiden (9.5 million followers), and his staff uses the account @TeamJoe (134.2 thousand followers) to “build a grassroots campaign.” While it’s no doubt Biden’s tweets are more professional and reminiscent of Obama’s, his posts fail to gain the same attention among both news sources and the general public that Trump’s do. Biden reaches 3.9 million users on Instagram while Trump reaches 21.9 million; he is liked by 2.3 million on Facebook, dwarfed by Trump’s 29.2 million. According to a TKC survey, 15.1% (39/258) of KHS students follow Joe Biden on at least one social media platform, compared to Trump’s 15.9% (41/258). 

However, Biden spent $60 million – the largest ad-buy of any presidential candidate in history, according to his campaign – on reaching voters via social media and gaming platforms. According to the Washington Post, Biden’s campaign also announced a new initiative to reach people of color. By hiring three new communications aides this July – all people of color – to his campaign, Biden’s goal is to maximize outreach and diversify his team. 

The Biden campaign also targets younger people. Recently, the campaign released  official Biden-Harris designs on the Nintendo game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” This strategy gets a younger demographic to be more aware. Whether they can vote or not, the election will likely feel more personal to them as a result. Additionally, Biden’s Instagram account features organized highlights for easy access to Q&As, information on getting to know Biden, taking action, and Biden’s plans. His feed includes a variety of eye-catching infographics, campaign videos, and posts about Trump – all of which are easily shareable to an Instagram story. Biden’s social media team has also created and compiled a “Team Joe Digital Tool Kit” which provides pre-made graphics, videos and photos for anyone to share on social media. 

Biden’s social media posts focus on the issues that are central to his campaign like climate change, the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and healthcare. However, some of his most liked tweets are ones that are critical of Trump, proving that many people are voting for Biden solely because he is not Trump. Reflecting the efforts of his social media campaign to create voter popularity, Biden leads Trump in number of enthusiastic supporters, according to a CNN poll which has Biden polling at 53% and Trump at 46%.

 Going into November, Biden is spending more than any presidential candidate ever has to reach people digitally and outshine his political opponent. But the question remains: will it be enough?