Why These Voters Rejected Hillary Clinton but Are Backing Joe Biden

Interviews with dozens of voters, union members and Democratic strategists reveal a party embracing Mr. Biden — a 77-year-old white man — as a familiar political pitch, though some bristled at what they saw as the gender bias in that assessment.

“The Republicans did a fantastic job of making Hillary Clinton seem like the devil for the last 20-plus years, so she was a hard sell,” said Aaron Stearns, the Democratic chairman in Warren County in northwestern Pennsylvania. “It’s just a lot easier with Joe Biden because he’s a guy and he’s an old white guy. I hate saying that, but it’s the truth.”

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Even as Mr. Biden proposes a significantly bigger role for government than Mrs. Clinton did four years ago, some voters view the Democratic nominee as more moderate compared to how they saw her. And they don’t see him as being as divisive a political figure as they did Mrs. Clinton, despite Mr. Biden’s long record of legislative battles.

“I didn’t like Hillary — I felt that she was a fraud, basically, lying and conniving,” said Sarah Brown, 27, of Rhinelander, Wis., who regrets her 2016 vote for Mr. Trump and plans to vote for Mr. Biden. “I’m not a super big fan of him, either, but the two options — I guess it’s the lesser evil.”

Since 2019, Mr. Biden has held an advantage of four to eight points over Mrs. Clinton in key swing districts, according to an analysis by John Hagner, a partner at Clarity Campaign Labs, a Democratic data analytics firm.

Polling shows Mr. Biden scoring higher than Mrs. Clinton among a wide range of demographic groups — most notably older voters, white voters and suburbanites. But his advantage is stark among those who sat out the 2016 election or backed third-party candidates.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump, 49 percent to 19 percent, among likely voters who backed third-party candidates in 2016, according to recent polling of battleground states by The New York Times and Siena College. Among registered voters who sat out the 2016 election, Mr. Biden leads by nine percentage points, the polls found.

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