Biden Continues To Lead Field Of Democratic Candidates For 2020

It's far too early, but Joe Biden's advantages in these polls of Democratic voters can't be ignored.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden continues to lead the polls among prospective and declared candidates for the Democratic nomination, but it’s far too early to jump to any conclusions:

A new poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the field in the 2020 Democratic presidential race — even though he hasn’t actually entered it.

The Morning Consult poll showed Biden winning the support of 29 percent of Democratic primary voters, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 22 percent and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at 13 percent.

Neither Sanders nor Biden have officially entered the 2020 race, but both have wide name-recognition, which could be helping them in the early stages of the race. Biden was vice president for eight years, while Sanders ran a competitive race against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

Harris won the most support in the poll of anyone in the race. She was followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in fourth place with 8 percent support. Warren officially launched her campaign on Saturday.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) was just behind Warren with 7 percent support, while Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) took 5 percent.

Booker has announced his candidacy, while many think O’Rourke will enter the race. O’Rourke on Monday held a rally in El Paso, Texas, meant to provide counter-programming to President Trump’s own rally in the city.

Every other candidate in the field — including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) — were backed by 3 percent or fewer voters in the poll.

(…)

The Morning Consult polling also showed Biden with a lead among voters in early primary states, which include Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The poll showed Biden with the backing of 33 percent of those voters, followed by Sanders at 21 percent, Harris at 11 percent and Warren at 10 percent.

It’s obviously far too early in the 2020 process to draw any meaningful conclusions from numbers like this, especially since it seems clear that they are based largely, if not exclusively, on name recognition and other factors that are likely to change significantly as the race goes on. Additionally, while they have both at least signaled that they are seriously considering getting into the race for Democratic, neither Senator Sanders nor former Vice-President Biden has formally entered the field at this time. Notwithstanding that, the fact that they are performing so well in these early polls is likely to be an enticement for them to get in for what is obviously going to be their last chance at a political prize like the White House. On the other hand, these numbers should also stand as a warning to the candidates who have scored lower on the list that they need to work on their name recognition if they are going to survive in this race and especially if they want to be able to raise the funds necessary to mount a competent campaign for President in the modern era.

Looking specifically at Biden with respect to these polls numbers, the message they send seems to be clear. If he really wants to take one more shot at being President after rather disappointing runs in 1988 and 2008, then the door is open for him. In addition to the name recognition that these numbers suggest he’d enjoy from the minute he enters the race, it’s likely that he’ll have the opportunity to forge an alternative path to the Democratic nomination that could prove to be successful. While candidates such as Kirsten GillibrandJulian CastroTulsi GabbardKamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar will, along with Senator Sanders, be competing amongst each other for support for the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, Biden could potentially be alone in seeking the support of a much broader segment of the party that includes not only some portion of the “progressive” wing but also the more mainstream segment of the economy as well as minority groups such as African-Americans and Latino voters that don’t necessarily fall neatly into the “progressive” ideological category. In a crowded field that could be all it takes to win the nomination in the end.

As I said, it’s far too early to make any meaningful judgments from polls like this. After all at this point in the 2016 Republican race, we were seeing candidates like Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker at the top of the list, and we know what happened to their candidacies.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, 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. Michael Reynolds says:

    I think people are voting for the Joe Biden popularized and re-defined by The Onion. They’ve forgotten the Biden of Anita Hill and support for big banks.

    I think this would be a mistake, I don’t think what we really want is a restoration to the status quo ante, though any rational person would swap the Obama era for the #RussianAsset era. I think what we need is the next chapter, not a re-read of the previous chapter.

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  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Joe…NOOOOO!!!!!!
    Biden would best serve as a pit-bull…ridiculing Dennison, and saying the things a candidate shouldn’t in polite society.

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I think that both Biden’s and Sanders’s ages discount them from consideration. The fact that Sanders is not a Democrat should also discount him from consideration, but that is a separate argument.

    2016 really was Biden’s last and best chance to run and win.

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  4. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m fine with 20 candidates taking pot shots at Trump for the next year 😀

    If we’re lucky he’ll respond by spending all his hours in executive time shooting back on Twitter. Rather than invading Iran.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Neither Sanders nor Biden have officially entered the 2020 race, but both have wide name-recognition, which could be helping them in the early stages of the race.

    That’s the key to all of this…people are responding to politicians they know…once they become familiar with other candidates, I wouldn’t be surprised if Biden’s support drops…

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    Building Name Recognition: A Fable

    A bitter January day, an individual in a snorkel parka picks her/his way carefully across Portsmouth’s historic Market Square, the bitter northeast wind and a patch of ice nearly send the person to their knees. A flinty Granite Stater walks past, hatless and gloveless, his own parka unzipped. A hand reaches toward him, believing that the person in the snorkel parka is homeless and seeking money, the Granite Stater feels unusually charitable and reaches into his pocket and puts 2 quarter in the gloved hand. “No” a voice says from in side the hood, I don’t want your money, I want your vote on primary day.

    The DNC really needs to issue numbers to these candidates and publish a scorecard, there are too many to keep track of.

  7. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think people are voting for the Joe Biden popularized and re-defined by The Onion.

    But that really *is* Joe Biden. I don’t mean that he literally went from animal shelter to animal shelter trying to find a Portuguese Water Dog that looks like the First Dog before the Obamas got back from an overseas trip, but simply that he is a well-meaning, bumbling, mildly mild accident prone man.

    None of the other fake narratives the Onion published about any other politician have caught on, because they are too off the mark.

    He was also the Senator from MBNA, and an ass at the Anita Hill hearings. And also he turned around on gay rights, and has been speaking out about campus rape. He’s not perfect, and he wears his imperfections on his sleeve.

    I don’t think he will be the nominee — he is too old, and I don’t think he has a vision for America other than a return to competent, middle of the road, leadership. I think he’s running (if he does run) because he really wants to punch Donald Trump in the face, and that isn’t enough.

    But the Onion is spot on with his character.

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  8. Blue Galangal says:

    @Gustopher: While I think your analysis is dead on (“Sun’s out, guns out!”), I am mostly responding because this made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. Thanks. I mean… don’t we all?

    I think he’s running (if he does run) because he really wants to punch Donald Trump in the face, and that isn’t enough.

    PS – my all time favourite Jon Stewart moment was the voiceover when Obama was trying to decide what he wanted on his hot dog and Jon was doing a Biden impression along the lines of, “While Little Lord Fauntleroy decides on his condiments, I’ll take a…” My children and I laughed so hard our stomachs were aching.

  9. Franklin says:

    I mainly don’t like the idea of gambling that his health will be perfect between the nomination and the election. My seemingly healthy mom who walked several miles every day suddenly died at Biden’s age for no obvious reason (my siblings talked me out of an autospy … “she was old, people die”).

    I’d prefer to take my chances on somebody younger, because this administration must end. Please.

  10. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I’m in a similar boat. I don’t believe there’s any evidence that Joe Biden used to take his shirt off and wash his trans am in the White House driveway, I just know it’s true.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Your analysis is correct, Biden is that guy. Now. But we don’t seem to have a statute of limitations on bad behavior anymore, not in the Democratic Party. The ‘clean and articulate’ line will be trotted out, along with Anita and the banks, and I don’t doubt oppo will find more such triggers. Also, he’s white and male and old. I think another old white guy will depress enthusiasm among the young, POC and women. It feels like a re-run to me, and I am an old white guy.

  12. Scott says:

    I usually pride myself on being a rationalist but I’m going to violate that. I don’t want anybody over 60 or so years old as President. Even though I like Biden. Even though I like a lot of what Warren says. After Obama, I don’t want to go backward in generational thinking. I think we baby boomers have done enough damage to this country. I’m ruling out Biden, Warren, Sanders.

    It’s not rational but there you go.

  13. An Interested Party says:

    It’s not rational but there you go.

    Oh I wouldn’t say that’s irrational…we have come to a time and a place where it seems most appropriate to have some generational change in the White House…

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott:
    Ditto that.

  15. Teve says:

    @Scott: as a general rule I can certainly understand why you feel this way. I’m 42 but I get it. I would say that there are exceptional situations I can think of. For instance if I was a conservative I would much rather have John Boehner in place than Paul Ryan.

    If the Peter principle had strictly obtained, Paul Ryan would have stopped at the level of gym location manager.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Scott:
    +2

  17. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think Biden tends to get a pass on a lot of his mistakes by saying “Yeah, I did that. I was wrong.” and being genuine.

    This is something a lot of our candidates could learn from.

    As for him being an old white guy, there’s not much he can do about that. Blackface is completely out. And America is not ready for a transgender president.

    I think people underestimate the price paid in nominating a woman or a person of color — a lot of America is mildly racist and sexist (a different category from the very racist and sexist, who will always vote for Trump). I’m not sure firing up the base that way nets us any votes.

    He’s also old as fvck and might drop dead.

    And he doesn’t have a grand vision. He would make a fine caretaker president.

    I also fear that a Presidential debate would somehow degenerate into arm wrestling. He’d win, but it wouldn’t be a good look.

  18. Gustopher says:

    @Scott: I think Warren is a new voice in a way Biden is not, and she has a longer life expectancy. She does not have Biden’s ability to get away with things by being Joe Biden, though.

    She attracts lint, and then carefully tries to pick it off and explain why each piece of lint was undeserved. In contrast, the elder Biden tends to just say “yup, that’s lint” and move on (he got way more natural at that during the Obama administration, and may do it badly now when he is supposed to give a fvck — VP may have been freeing).

    This was my sweater metaphor. I’m a little proud of it.

  19. Gustopher says:

    Also, after Harris is out of the race for prosecuting too much or not enough, and Warren is out for the Native American thing, and Klobuchar’s nasty emails to staffers get leaked, and Booker is out because of his imaginary friend, and Gillibrand keeps eating chicken wrong… we will still have Joe Biden.

    The man eats chicken right, was never a Native American, prosecuted no one, and probably doesn’t have an imaginary friend who he uses as an example of how his life could have gone wrong.

    Biden 2020: He Eats Chicken Right.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think people underestimate the price paid in nominating a woman or a person of color

    I don’t underestimate it–I just see it as one factor among several. Let’s put it this way: If there are two candidates who are absolutely identical in all ways except that Candidate A is a white man and Candidate B isn’t, then yes, I think Candidate A would get more votes. But in the real world it never works that way. Every candidate comes in with their own strengths and flaws, and there are many white men who would be weaker candidates than many particular women and minorities.

    I have long believed, and continue to believe, that Biden would be a weak candidate. First of all, it’s barely even hypothetical: he had two previous presidential runs, and both were unimpressive. He’s hardly a gifted campaigner. He’s verbose, and he has an inordinate habit of putting his foot in his mouth. I could easily see him being transformed in the public mind into a silly clown (as Republicans and late-night comics tended to depict him throughout Obama’s presidency). As Matt Yglesias noted a few weeks ago, he has decades of baggage that in many respects parallels that of Hillary. He may not have had quite the penchant for “scandal” as the Clintons (though his 1988 campaign imploded over a fairly trivial plagiarism controversy), but he certainly has a long record of positions that are out of step with today’s Democratic Party.

    And I’m saying all that without even mentioning that he’s prohibitively old–he’d begin his first term older than Reagan at the end of two terms. I’m not arguing that someone that age shouldn’t be president, I’m saying it opens up a potential line of deep vulnerability. He may be in fine physical and mental shape now, but at his age that can change very rapidly and without warning. What if he were to have an actual medical emergency on the campaign trail? But more likely–is there the slightest doubt that Republicans would use his age against him, depicting him as a doddering old fool not in control of his faculties? Is there any doubt they’d create a hoax just as easily as they did with Hillary’s seizures, or blowing up a minor incident like they did with her pneumonia? Trump’s age is one of his biggest vulnerabilities, and by nominating someone even older we instantly throw that way.

    I’m aware of the arguments made in his favor. We’re told he’ll have great appeal to blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt, even though he’s from Delaware. We’re told he has the kind of macho demeanor that can “take the fight” to Trump–an argument that reveals a narrow understanding of what constitutes strength, and which I believe is based on a misconception about why Trump won in 2016. The key to beating Trump isn’t by becoming him, or even becoming a better version of him.

    I think a lot of Dems are in denial about Biden’s weaknesses based on a “grass is greener” dynamic that reminds me a heckuva lot of the way Hillary was once viewed. In the 2012-14 period she had astronomically high favorability ratings. She was far more popular than Obama or Biden at the time, to the point that I remember seeing pieces in 2012 suggesting that Obama step down and let Hillary run in his place, or have Obama replace Biden with Hillary. Of course that was laughable nonsense and would have been an absolutely terrible idea if anyone had tried it, but it’s an illustration of the fact that politicians always look stronger when they aren’t in the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics. Once they become a candidate, their weaknesses that previously went unnoticed suddenly get a lot of attention, and people start to care a lot more about them as their partisan instincts kick in.

    Biden looks strong right now because no one’s thought to attack him at this point. He stands as the heir apparent to the popular Obama Administration, and he’s so far avoided getting into any controversies as of late. So of course he looks like an attractive choice. Once the GOP slime machine kicks into full gear, boosted on social media by the Russian campaign, he could easily become just as toxic as Hillary. I have no confidence he has the skills needed to withstand that kind of assault.

  21. Mister Bluster says:

    mildly racist?

    It’s ok if the cleaning lady is a negro…but I wouldn’t want my sister to marry one…???

  22. Gustopher says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    mildly racist?

    It’s ok if the cleaning lady is a negro…but I wouldn’t want my sister to marry one…???

    I was thinking more “I’m not a racist, but… I’d be uncomfortable if my sister married one.” Or “I’m not a racist, but… there’s something about that guy I don’t like. Can’t put my finger on it. It’s not his skin color. Something…” Not the alt-right white nationalists, but the more moderate, gentler racists.

    And, at a lesser level, subconscious bias is very prevalent. If it affects lots of hiring decisions (which we can measure, and it does), I believe it affects votes.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    I don’t underestimate it–I just see it as one factor among several. Let’s put it this way: If there are two candidates who are absolutely identical in all ways except that Candidate A is a white man and Candidate B isn’t, then yes, I think Candidate A would get more votes. But in the real world it never works that way.

    Entirely true. But, what I was trying to get at was that thinking like this is not necessarily true:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think another old white guy will depress enthusiasm among the young, POC and women.

    I don’t think we can know that the enthusiasm boost of women and POC on the left is going to be more or less than the loss of the votes of the people who just aren’t quite comfortable with a woman being president. Or a person of color.

    I wouldn’t rule someone out just for being a white man.

    Old is an issue. And Biden himself comes with an Amtrak Train full of baggage. And he will probably change from the gently giving about half-a-fvck-less-than-he-should Uncle Joe when he is actually trying to please.

    I would worry that he will repeat his comments about how if it were high school, he would want to take Trump back behind the bleachers and beat him. Yes, he said something like that, as sitting VP, it was a one day scandal, and he brushed it off.

    Really, the electability issue probably comes down to who pisses off reporters the least. I remember Al Gore’s sighs, Earth tone suits, and the lying (less than George W. Bush), all mostly because the press kind of hated him. John Kerry was aloof and that was a problem because reporters just didn’t like him. Hillary Clinton’s emails were the same way.

    I want to know who is buddy-buddy with the Washington reporters.

  24. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think people are voting for the Joe Biden popularized and re-defined by The Onion. They’ve forgotten the Biden of Anita Hill and support for big banks.

    What about the VP years?

  25. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    I want to know who is buddy-buddy with the Washington reporters.

    Dubya put a lot of effort into shmoozing reporters, bringing them snack goodies etc.

    The “have a beer with” started because he was the guy the reporters wanted to have a beer with.

    Gore was the opposite, very aloof.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Biden has run twice. Both times he was considered a strong contender. Both times his mouth got him in trouble and collapsed his potential. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  27. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Scott:

    I think we baby boomers have done enough damage to this country.

    We’re #1! We’re #1! We’re#1!
    Take that, so called greatest generation!!!!