An August poll found that about one-third of registered voters, when asked to categorize Joe Biden on the political spectrum of “very conservative” to “very liberal,” believe him to be “moderate.” Only about a quarter of the respondents consider Biden to be “liberal” or “very liberal.” This is likely because his campaign and the Democratic party have focused on Biden’s aww-shucks, “devout Catholic,” Joe Lunchpail persona rather than his actual policy positions. This has made him an elusive opponent and effective candidate.
Thus, as Peter Beinart put it in The Atlantic, “Despite embracing an agenda that is further to the left than that of any Democratic nominee in decades, [Biden has] avoided the specific policy proposals and catchphrases that Republicans find easiest to attack. As a result, he appears more centrist than he actually is.” Beinart is correct about where Biden’s agenda sits on the policy spectrum, but he is wrong about Biden avoiding specific proposals. In fact, it would be difficult to present his positions on social policy issues as further to the left than he has presented them himself (or has allowed them to be presented on his behalf) on his campaign website. Biden carefully describes his proposals in coded language and in less-than-obvious places, and a compliant press allows him to avoid discussing them on the stump. But the website sets forth policies that are unambiguously extreme.