Without the trappings of office, Biden has faded from the national stage as the coronavirus contagion chews through news cycle after news cycle. And without the actual authority that accompanies public office, he can’t make dramatic moves to muster the power of the government to make sweeping decisions that affect millions. It’s left him straining to remain relevant amid Trump’s daily briefings — carried live on cable television each afternoon.

Add in the national media’s inherent geographical bias for its home base of New York — where Cuomo and even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have occupied oversize roles in national coverage — and it’s left Biden struggling to break through.

“For Biden, the other difficulty is wedging himself into that,” Arzt said. “And you can’t easily wedge yourself into a crisis situation, other than say what you would do as president or say the president isn’t doing enough. But he could look very political.”