As Hillary Clinton’s Poll Numbers Drop, Is A Biden Candidacy Becoming More Likely?

The reports about Vice-President Biden possibly entering the Presidential race continue to persist.

Biden

The New York Times  is reporting that Vice-President Biden is looking more seriously at entering the Presidential race amid new reports about Hillary Clinton’s email issues and polls showing her support slipping:

WASHINGTON — As Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign struggles with sliding poll numbers, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s exploration of a presidential candidacy is taking on a new seriousness.

Mr. Biden has been in contact with donors who could help finance a campaign, eyeing major contributors to President Obama and pillars of his own fund-raising network: trial lawyers, Jewish leaders and Greek-Americans. On Thursday, the vice president, who is not known for aggressively courting donors, spoke to George Tsunis, a Long Island developer and longtime supporter, who raised more than $750,000 for the Obama-Biden ticket in 2012.

“I think he is doing the prudent thing, which is to look at it and lay down some groundwork should he run,” said Mr. Tsunis, saying that Mr. Biden is aware that Mr. Tsunis will help him if he enters the race.

At the same time, some Democrats supporting Mrs. Clinton have quietly signaled that they would re-evaluate their support if Mr. Biden joined the race. For example, Tom Daschle, an influential former Senate Democratic leader who has given the maximum amount allowable to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, has indicated that he would reassess his position if Mr. Biden entered the race, according to people who have been in contact with him in recent days.

In addition, a “Draft Biden” group has started to build an infrastructure to use if the vice president enters the race. After initially focusing on raising money for their effort, they have begun to hire field organizers.

“Over the next few weeks we hope to expand our operations so we can communicate with more voters about Vice President Biden’s record,” said Josh Alcorn, a Biden family friend working for the group.

Mr. Biden’s supporters have, in private conversations, signaled that if he does enter the race he will portray himself as the rightful heir to Mr. Obama’s legacy, given his loyalty to the president. They also argue that given the unpredictability of a campaign season in which both Bernie Sanders and Donald J. Trump have won a following, it is folly to dismiss Mr. Biden’s chances.

Mr. Biden “is authentic and spontaneous and real,” said James P. Kreindler, a New York lawyer who helped raise money for Mr. Biden’s 2008 campaign.

But the vice president and his closest advisers are also monitoring Mrs. Clinton as she tries to put questions over her use of a private email server while secretary of state behind her. On Thursday, Quinnipiac University released a poll showing troubling signs for Mrs. Clinton in three key states: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. In each state survey, at least 6 in 10 voters said the former secretary of state was not honest and trustworthy. Fewer than 4 in 10 voters in each state held a favorable view of Mrs. Clinton, compared with nearly 6 in 10 who viewed her negatively.

Those who have spoken directly to Mr. Biden, who spent part of this week with his grandchildren in Delaware, increasingly believe that he is going to take several more weeks to decide whether to pursue a candidacy. They hope the time will provide more clarity about how much political damage Mrs. Clinton has suffered as a result of the email issue, and whether the problems will last.

Mr. Biden is still mourning the death of his son Beau, and his aides had previously said that he would make an announcement about whether he will run by the end of this summer. But it now appears that deadline could slip. He would need to make a declaration before the first Democratic debate on Oct. 13.

“He’s not unrealistic that if she’s able to right the ship here, at this point it’s tough, really tough, to see a lot of Democrats coming off her,” said one former senior Obama administration official who recently discussed the merits of a campaign with Mr. Biden. “On the other hand, the things with the emails and everything else could deteriorate — who knows? So I think he’s figuring he’s got another month or so to see what happens, to sort of put feelers out there.”

Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Mr. Biden, declined to comment on questions about calls that have been made and the efforts of the vice president’s allies.

Members of Mr. Biden’s inner circle have asked the Democrats they have spoken with to be circumspect about conversations, but the advisers have followed who is saying favorable things in the news media about the vice president’s prospects, and are contacting them after they do so.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen speculation about the Vice-President getting into the race for the Democratic nomination, of course.  Rumors to that effect have been part of the political conversation for the better part of a year now, as matter of fact. As 2015 approached, and before it as was clear that Hillary Clinton would even be entering the race, the Vice-President was remaining mum about his intentions for 2016. At the same time, though, there were no signs that Biden was actually taking the kind of steps you would expect to see from someone mounting a serious campaign for the Presidency. There were no real trips to Iowa or New Hampshire, no hiring of campaign staff or gathering of donors, and no real efforts for Biden to put himself on the national stage beyond his Vice-Presidential duties. As I speculated at the time, it seemed more likely that Biden was keeping the door open to a Presidential both in case Clinton ultimately didn’t enter the race and as a means of keeping himself relevant within the Democratic Party during the final years of the Obama Administration. As late as March of this year, this seemed to be exactly the strategy that Biden was following.

In recent months, though, the speculation about Biden entering the race has taken a different turn. Starting early in the summer, we started seeing reports that Biden was “seriously considering” entering the race. More recently, The New York Times  has seemed to be a constant source of Biden rumors. Earlier this month, the paper reported that Biden was was taking a “new look” at the race on the same day that it published a Maureen Dowd column on the topic that seemed to include information that could have only come from someone very close to the Vice-President. Now, we have this report and, once again the fact that it is combined with all of the ongoing news regarding Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server, and the fact that she is slipping in the polls at the moment notwithstanding the fact that it is still quite early in the race. If for no other reason than the fact that we are in the midst of a summer news cycle that has been dominated by little more than Donald Trump, it’s only natural that speculation regarding Biden’s attention would run rampant. Additionally, it’s worth noting that Biden could shut the speculation down once and for all with a firm denial that he is interested in running for President. The fact that he hasn’t done so indicates that there is at least some truth to the rumors, even if many of them do amount to little more than speculation at the moment.

Despite all of this, though, the prospects for a Biden campaign still don’t seem all that great. In the past, polls have shown that while the American public has a positive view of Biden individually they really aren’t very enthusiastic about the idea of Joe Biden being President. Perhaps more importantly, a recent poll of Democrats taken just a few weeks ago shows very little enthusiasm for a Biden candidacy. Given the other factors arguing against a Biden run, such as his age and the fact that his two previous runs for the White House didn’t exactly demonstrate a wide Biden appeal in America that he could tap into, this would seem to argue that Biden will probably decline to run but may stay on the sidelines just in case Clinton’s campaign implodes. On the other hand, this is the year that has brought us Donald Trump and so many other unexpected things in American politics. A Biden candidacy wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but then there’s not much going on right now that does.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ben Wolf says:

    Do the Democrats have anyone to replace Obama who isn’t collecting Social Security?

  2. Facebones says:

    As Hillary Clinton’s Poll Numbers Drop, Is A Biden Candidacy Becoming More Likely?

    No.

    This has been short answers to stupid questions.

  3. Rollo says:

    Remind me which is the party of old white people?

  4. Todd says:

    @Facebones:

    No.

    This has been short answers to stupid questions.

    Yes, it is much more likely. The main thing Hillary Clinton has/had going for her is both inevitability and the comfort that no matter how “damaged” she gets she would still beat any Republican nominee. Take those away (especially the second), and the case for another “establishment acceptable” candidate on the Democratic side makes a whole lot of sense.

  5. Todd says:

    @Ben Wolf: It sure would be nice if they had a seasoned attractive young candidate already in the bullpen waiting to be called out. As it is, I think there’s a strong possibility that no matter who the D nominee is, Julian Castro has to be the smart bet for VP … and actually I wonder if anybody would be willing to give some really long odds already on predictions for the 46th President in 2020 or 2024? If so, I’d gladly float a $100 or three on his name.

  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    LOL, I can almost hear the hosts crossing their fingers and chanting “please, please let it be so”.

    IOW this is getting a tad ridiculous …

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Biden gets no one excited.

    Elizabeth Warren? Maybe – it’s the ‘first female president’ factor that could make the difference.

    Bernie Sanders? Maybe – but does a completely left-progressive ignite Democratic turnout?

    If Hillary is not the nominee, Democratic voter turnout has the potential to fall way off.

  8. Todd says:

    @al-Ameda:

    If Hillary is not the nominee, Democratic voter turnout has the potential to fall way off.

    I think it’s just the opposite. Turnout will be down if she IS the nominee. The left of the party clearly doesn’t like her, they want someone else. Sure, they’ll vote vote her (learned the Nader lesson), but they won’t be excited about it, and depending on how “scary” the Republican nominee is, may end up doing the bare minimum (i.e. just voting). She’s already losing Independents (like me .. I’m not an anomaly).

    I’m sorry, I just don’t think the strategy of “the Republicans will nominate someone crazy” so Clinton’s negatives won’t hurt her, is terribly comforting.

    If she’s the nominee, I think a lot of commenters here at OTB are going to be asking on the morning of November 9th 2016, “wtf just happened?”

    p.s. Just to be clear .. I DO NOT want a Republican in the White House. But, I don’t really want Hillary Clinton there either.

  9. Xenos says:

    @Todd:

    Yes, it is much more likely. The main thing Hillary Clinton has/had going for her is both inevitability and the comfort that no matter how “damaged” she gets she would still beat any Republican nominee.

    As far as Democrats are concerned, she is a perfectly acceptable candidate. A bit boring compared to the sexiness of Obama, and is subject to making bad judgments about stupidities like the emails. These are not serious problems, and she will do just fine while the next generation spends a few more years getting seasoned.

    And the fact that she would crush any republican is not small beer.

  10. Todd says:

    @Xenos:

    And the fact that she would crush any republican is not small beer.

    That’s just the thing, it’s really not all the much of a sure bet anymore that she would beat any Republican. Take that away, and there’s no compelling reason that she should be essentially “handed” the nomination.

  11. Xenos says:

    @Todd: Who is handing her the nomination? That fact that nobody comes close to her is evidence of her strength, not evidence of her weakness.

    This is the usual flipping the story around in order to undermine her legitimacy as, eventually, president. If she was at 25% along with Bernie and O’Malley at 25% each, with another 25% for none-of-the-above, would that make her more legitimate in your eyes? I doubt it.

    So what is the basis for the complaint about her ‘coronation’?

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @Xenos: The same narrative was played in 2007-2008 until a no-name Senator from no-wheresville with, as were were told at the time, no-chance, ran a campaign well to Hillary’s left, smashed her supposed strength and won the nomination. People who assume she possesses some unique power or appeal suffer a remarkably defined hole in their long-term memory.

  13. Tillman says:

    @Ben Wolf: Well sure, but the numbers are rather different this time around. She has the same weaknesses — few people have the wherewithal left at that age to make personality and cognitive changes, even fewer who bother making them — but the numbers are very different this time around. For instance, the only people who would’ve made break-out speeches at the DNC last presidential cycle were crushed by Clinton’s speech.

    No one’s ever going to convince me that speech — universally beloved by Democrats — wasn’t a sort of end run against the possibility of another [relatively] young charismatic upstart.

    And while some of my social circles have me on edge politically because instead of being begrudgingly Hillary they’re more apathetic (which would point heuristically to lower turnout), the GOP is basically disintegrating into a drawn-out death rattle as the brand devolves into a subculture instead of a political party.

  14. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tillman: There’s a fair amount of truth in that and so far Clinton has tried to adapt by emerging occasionally to throw liberals a bone. But I think Hillary’s weaknesses as a manager will come into play just as they did in 2008. The longer her campaign ground on the more infighting among her senior people damaged her messaging and I’m having trouble seeing what she will or can do differently this time. So far she’s remained largely aloof which I think is an attempt to avoid those problems but when she does come out to an unscripted event the results aren’t good. A lot of the press hates her as much as the Republicans do.

  15. Grewgills says:

    In August of 2007 the polling for the Democratic presidential primaries was as follows

    Hillary Clinton – 43%
    Barack Obama – 22%
    John Edwards – 13%
    Bill Richardson – 6%
    Joe Biden – 5%
    Dennis Kucinich – 2%
    Chris Dodd – 1%

    As it stands now

    Clinton – 49.3
    Sanders – 25.0
    Biden – 12.0
    O’Malley – 1.7
    Webb – 1.3
    Chafee – 0.0

    and the Republican field looked like this in August of 2007

    Rudy Giuliani – 29%
    Fred Thompson – 14%
    Mitt Romney – 11%
    John McCain – 7%
    Newt Gingrich – 5%
    Mike Huckabee – 3%
    Ron Paul – 3%

    The polling isn’t as different as people seem to remember, but I don’t think Sanders has the charisma or the organization to pull off what Obama did in 07-08.

  16. Todd says:

    @Tillman:

    And while some of my social circles have me on edge politically because instead of being begrudgingly Hillary they’re more apathetic (which would point heuristically to lower turnout)

    And that is the problem.

    Here’s why I’m nervous about a largely uninspired Democratic voting public. If just wanting to keep the crazy Republicans out was enough motivation, the past two mid-term elections shouldn’t have been nearly the bloodbaths that they were. Mid-term level enthusiasm by Dems in a Presidential year is a very good way to put a Republican in the White House again.