Andrew Yang’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination reiterated the idea that mastery of the internet can ignite a movement.
The tech entrepreneur successfully tapped into memes and music videos, and cultural icons like Dave Chappelle, Donald Glover, Elon Musk, and Jack Dorsey became passionate members of the #YangGang. Many of his supporters remain steadfast, expressing their continued loyalty across social media with what has become Yang’s signature blue baseball cap emoji. And former Vice President Joe Biden could benefit from that kind of buzz online.
Yang, who initially supported Senator Bernie Sanders after dropping out of the race himself, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden last month. But Yang’s greatest strength may be Biden’s Achilles’ heel.
“The fact is Joe is weaker on the internet than Trump. And we can potentially help Joe with that. I am 100% committed to defeating Trump in the fall and helping Joe in any way I can, and I don't think that 100% of the Yang Gang is going to come with me on that,” he told Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move” on Wednesday.
Referring to a January 24 Emerson College/7 News poll that found 42% of Yang’s supporters would not support any Democratic nominee in the general election, the 45-year-old nonprofit founder and podcast host said he hopes he can galvanize the #YangGang.
“If we can turn the dial up so that greater than 58% of them [support Biden], we can be the difference maker in Joe’s victory this fall,” he said.
Key swing states Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all of which went to Trump in 2016 — could be critical in the next election.
“This to me is the crucial bloc that Joe has to win over in order to win in those six [swing] states and around the country. And so to me, the Yang Gang can play a pivotal role where we shore up this swing group, but also, young digital natives,” he said.
‘Certainly, I want to serve the country’
While Yang said he’s been in conversation with the Biden campaign, there is no promise of a specific role or position in the event he gets elected this November.
“There's never been anything even remotely official. Joe has said that we need all hands on deck, and I agree with him. Certainly, I want to serve the country. And I've been very open over and over again that if that's part of an administration, I would take that opportunity.” Yang appeared to be backtracking on comments he made during a March 20 interview on The Breakfast Club, when he said, “I’d have a place in the [Biden] administration... is the clear message.”
And while Yang hopes to “lead by example” in showing his support for Biden, he doesn’t have any concrete proposals to help him win.
“Perhaps the notion of me being part of a Biden administration will be appealing to many of the people that supported me, because we have a massive nation rebuilding project ahead of us. And it's going to be a multiyear, even a generational effort, where we need to get started on that as quickly as possible. I know that I want to be a part of that, in helping Joe win. I think it is the big first step that we need to take.”
Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s west coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.
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