Mr. Biden is hardly the only candidate to talk about his political strengths, in a campaign in which Democrats are fixated on the question of how best to defeat Mr. Trump. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota invokes her electoral success in competitive political territory. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., plays up his roots in the industrial Midwest. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont embarked upon a “Bernie Beats Trump” tour of Iowa in September. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who promises sweeping change, warns that a Democratic nominee lacking far-reaching ambitions would lose to Mr. Trump.
But the case for Mr. Biden, as expressed by the candidate and his surrogates at recent campaign events, can be especially blunt.
“Here are three reasons why Joe Biden is the only person for this election,” Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, told a crowd in Des Moines last month. “No. 1 is the polls. All of the polls show that Joe Biden is the strongest match against Trump.”
During Mr. Biden’s “No Malarkey” bus tour in Iowa in the days after Thanksgiving, Tom Vilsack, the former agriculture secretary and Iowa governor, also invoked general-election polls against Mr. Trump. “If you take a look at the polls today, and if you take a look at the polls throughout this entire campaign, the one person who’s consistently ahead by a large margin is Joe Biden,” Mr. Vilsack said.
At another event, Mr. Vilsack’s wife, Christie Vilsack, offered the same pitch, citing “the polls in states that will really matter in this election, like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, just to name a few.”
Mr. Biden’s punditry goes far beyond his ability to compete in battleground states.
He has assessed his standing in the primary field (“I am the clear front-runner in the party,” he told reporters in Atlanta last month). He has cited how he fares against his fellow Democrats (“I lead all the national polls nationwide by double digits, against everybody, consistently,” he told Telemundo, though his lead was in the single digits in many recent surveys).
He has brought up his favorability rating in Iowa (“It’s in the 70s,” he told NPR, though the latest Des Moines Register/CNN poll found it to be 64 percent among likely Democratic caucusgoers). And he has boasted of his support among specific demographic groups, such as black voters (“I have more people in the African-American community supporting me than anybody else,” he said at an education forum in Pittsburgh on Saturday).