People are “excited” to get out and vote in November, says one-time presidential candidate Julian Castro. Speaking with Yahoo Finance, the former Secretary for Housing and Urban Development said that adding California Senator Kamala Harris to the Democratic ticket “excites a lot of voters,” whether they’re moderate or liberal.
“She's exciting a lot of people out there. You can already tell there's been an infusion of energy into the campaign, which is great,” Castro said.
“You know, now it's just up to all of us to work hard all the way through the finish line in November, because we know that we can't take anything for granted,” he said.
Harris was announced as Joe Biden’s running mate after months of speculation during which the presidential nominee said he would pick a woman as his vice presidential candidate. The California senator had ended her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination at the end of last year after making a strong entrance into the presidential race.
Like Biden, she is often billed as a more moderate candidate; during her presidential bid, she repeatedly tried — and failed — to grab progressive voters, dogged by her record as California attorney general and her problems formulating a consistent stand on some issues, notably health care.
But despite Castro’s assertion that voters are enthused, the majority of Democratic voters find Biden most appealing not for his policies, but rather, because they oppose President Trump.
According to a new Pew Research Center study, 56% of registered voters who support Biden “say their main reason for supporting him is that he is not Trump. Just 19% of Trump supporters cite opposition to Biden as a central motivation.”
This represents a big change from the general election four years ago when a third of registered voters in both political parties cited opposition to the other candidate as their primary motivation for their decision at the ballot box.
“I just think there's a difference between these poll questions that you get that are put to somebody on the phone or online and how people actually feel out there,” Castro said. “People are enthusiastic about going to vote in November.”
Castro explained that the people had chosen Joe Biden because they “want someone who is a steady hand.”
“They want somebody who has the wisdom, the experience, to lead this country well again in a time of a global pandemic,” he added. “So I don't see any enthusiasm gap there.”
And with coronavirus forcing campaign events online, Castro says this year’s election will be “the weirdest” because of the “limitations” the pandemic has put on voting.
“More campaign efforts are going to have to be digital and telephonic,” said Castro. “More of the voting is going to be done ahead of time by mail and other forms of early voting. It's going to be unusual. And that means that even more so now, we can't drop the ball. We have to keep pushing.”
The global pandemic hasn’t prevented the former Vice President from rising in the polls, surpassing Trump. According to the average of national polls, Biden leads Trump by nearly 8.5 points.
It’s a lead that Castro says “looks good,” and highlights the enthusiasm voters have for a Biden-Harris ticket.
But while Trump trails in the national polls to Biden, on the economy, voters have historically preferred the president.
Prior to the pandemic, the president’s approval rating on the economy stood at just over 60%. It has since slipped to roughly 50%, putting both Biden and Trump roughly neck and neck on the issue.
“The Obama-Biden administration has the best track record in terms of getting this country out of a deep recession,” Castro said.
“When Barack Obama and Joe Biden took over in early 2009, we were losing 700,000 jobs every month. And then after a couple of months, we went on this streak of about 70 months -- more than 70 months of positive job growth -- the longest streak of positive economic job growth in our country's history,” he said.
“What that says to me is that Joe Biden knows a thing or two about building back and making sure that people get back to work and that our economy is strong again.”
Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.