AOC - Alexandra Ocasio Cortez

Donald Trump’s recent Twitter tirade against “The Squad” – four Democratic US congress-women of immigrant extraction that includes rising star Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez – appears to have marked the opening salvo of his 2020 re-election campaign.

And with Mike Pence releasing his own footage in recent days from the US border showing the US vice-president surveying caged migrants, the tone of Trump’s re-election campaign is one that has the hallmarks of “a race war campaign,” according to at least one political commentator.

The White House, it seems, has drawn its battle lines for the 2020 race, and the implications for the Democratic nomination have already kicked in, particularly for Joe Biden.

Increasingly Sidelined

Seen as the stand-out candidate for the Democratic nomination up until a poor performance in the first round of nomination debates, the price on a Biden nomination had already been slipping across a number of political stock markets, including Smarkets and PredictIt.

At the time of publication, however, the Biden campaign has seen its implied probability of gaining the nomination fall to a new low of 16.9%, having formerly registered in the mid-30’s in the days following his formal announcement for running.

There is an argument, then, that Trump’s focus in recent days on “the Squad” has allowed Progressive Democrats to take centre stage on the media landscape ahead of Establishment Democrats. And there is speculation that this may be a deliberate Trump strategy to help sideline centrists such as Biden in favour of more “radical” candidates which Republicans feel to be less electable.

Biden now sits in third place according to Smarkets, behind new lead candidate Kamala Harris, Senator for California, who is currently registering 31.3%, whilst Republican nemesis Elizabeth Warren has jumped ahead of Biden on 20.0%, placing her second in the race.

If Biden is to make a come-back, he will need to re-consider his 2020 White House strategy as the race becomes defined by policy issues that he has so far had little to say in.

Harris’ rising star, on the other hand, may suffer a similar fate if the current tone in US politics takes deeper root. The former lawyer is seen as “shaky”, particularly on the issue of health care, by a number of Democrats in the Progressive camp.