Fall 2020 | Publication

Biden Influencers


Although both candidates have extensive public records, Mr. Biden has not held office since 2016 and spent the preceding eight years in a role that necessarily obscures the preferences of the occupant.  While the last four years have revealed much regarding the advisors to and policy priorities of President Donald Trump, the Democratic challenger presents many unknowns, despite almost a half century in the political arena.

A Biden Administration likely would not reprise the “no drama” Obama White House.  Rather, analysis of the most impactful influencers on a possible Biden Administration confirms divisions between legacy elements of the Democratic Party and a reformist Left.

Baron applied Influencer Analytics to provide a snapshot of the most significant policy experts and other leaders likely to be influential on economic issues should Democrats capture the White House in November.  Baron also previously conducted Influencer Analytics on the Trump Administration.1


During September and October 2020, Baron deployed Influencer Analytics to identify the key external forces (individuals and organizations outside of government) who likely would shape the approach of a Biden Administration to the economy.  The effort involved:

  • Defining a universe of more than 30 Biden advisors, including Democratic Vice Presidential nominee and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), campaign officials, the transition team, and others directly involved in economic policy development, as well as general advisors, campaign staff, the Democratic National Convention platform drafting committee, and Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force members;
  • Assembling a database of more than 8,000 public citations made by those Biden advisors of individuals outside of government regarding the economy;
  • Inspecting and verifying each data point; and
  • Scoring external influencers using an algorithm that controls for frequency, consistency, and reach.

Baron’s process has been tested and refined, with recent projects for clients including Fortune 50 companies, business coalitions, and large privately-held firms. These projects involved gathering more than 100,000 reference citations by policy makers and other opinion leaders.

List of Influencers

According to Influencer Analytics, the following policy experts have the most influence on Biden advisors:

  • Michael Linden – Groundwork Collaborative
  • Jason Furman – Harvard Kennedy School
  • Jared Bernstein – Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Heather Boushey – Washington Center for Equitable Growth
  • Heidi Shierholz – Economic Policy Institute
  • Gene Sperling – Sperling Economic Strategies
  • Ernie Tedeschi – Evercore ISI
  • Justin Wolfers – University of Michigan
  • Martha Gimbel – Schmidt Futures
  • Matt Stoller – American Economic Liberties Project

Biographical Highlights

Michael Linden is a decade or more younger than many influencers in the top-10 list.  He never served in the Obama Administration and currently focuses on advocacy.  Linden was the first managing director of policy and research at The Hub Project, which partners with left-of-center advocacy groups “to build innovative and effective campaigns.”2 He currently serves as executive director of Groundwork Collaborative, which works with “progressive movement leaders and activists on the front lines of progressive causes.”3

Heather Boushey co-founded the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which explores “fundamental questions [of] whether and how economic inequality – in all its forms – affects economic growth and stability, and what policymakers can do about it.”4  A New York Times feature this year described her as “at the forefront of a generation of economists rethinking their discipline.”5

A veteran of both the Obama and Clinton Administrations (as is Jared Bernstein and Jason Furman), Gene Sperling was a member of the Auto Task Force from 2009 to 2010.  He now leads Sperling Economic Strategies.  While sympathetic to economic populism, which Sperling defines as “the 1 percent, or the elites, versus the 99 percent,” he fears that the movement could “lead to mistakes in governing.”6

Matt Stoller served as a fellow at the Open Markets Institute, which focuses on reforming antitrust policy, before joining the American Economic Liberties Project, which launched in February 2020.  He is the author of Goliath: The Hundred-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy.  Stoller has been critical of the Obama Administration’s approach to antitrust and competition, remarking, “The Obama White House intentionally concentrated corporate power, because he and his advisors thought it was the right thing to do.”7


The election in 2016 of Donald J. Trump signaled that American politics had entered an era of pronounced political volatility.  Whereas Trump rapidly seized control of the substance and style of the GOP, the inauguration of a President Biden would unleash – rather than resolve – the battle between the legacy Democratic Party and the reformist Left.  The composition of the Biden influencer community reflects a growing conflict between past centrist instincts and ascendant progressive aspirations.  Moreover, the revealed patterns of influence among Biden’s economic advisors portend greater danger to Big Tech, financial services, and healthcare companies than the Democratic nominee’s Senate record might otherwise indicate.


1   Political Risk Brief, “COVID-19 Economic Response: Key Influencers on the Trump Administration,” Baron, 2020, https://baronpa.com/prb/covid-19-economic-response-key-influencers-on-the-trump-administration.

2   “About,” The Hub Project, https://thehubproject.org; and “Michael Linden,” Roosevelt Institute, https://rooseveltinstitute.org/authors/michael-linden.

3   “About,” Groundwork Collaborative, https://groundworkcollaborative.org/about-groundwork.

4   “About us,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, https://equitablegrowth.org/who-we-are/about-us.

5   “Heather Boushey,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, https://equitablegrowth.org/people/heather-boushey.

6   “Is Populism Good for the Populace?,” Aspen Ideas, 2019, https://d32no1dgrbviok.cloudfront.net/sessions/is-populism-good-for-the-populace.

7   Matt Stoller, “How Would President Biden Approach Corporate Power?,” BIG by Matt Stoller, October 19, 2020, https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/how-would-president-biden-approach.