Clinton Recovers In Latest National Poll, But Biden Is Rising

Hillary Clinton seems to be bouncing back from recent troubles in the latest national poll, but Vice-President Biden is starting to rise in the polls before even getting in the race.

Clinton Biden Sanders

A new CNN/ORC poll shows that Hillary Clinton has seemingly bounced back from some of her recent problems to widen her lead over Bernie Sanders in national polling, but perhaps the most interesting thing about the poll is what it says about Vice-President Biden:

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic presidential primary race has grown — and if Vice President Joe Biden decides to stay out of the race, her numbers would rise even higher, a new CNN/ORC poll shows.

Clinton is backed by 42% of Democratic primary voters nationally, compared to 24% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 22% for Biden and 1% for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

That’s a marked improvement over an early September CNN/ORC poll that found Clinton leading Sanders, 37% to 27%, with Biden at 20%.

And Biden’s support comes almost entirely from Clinton’s camp. Without the vice president in the race, Clinton’s numbers climb by 15 percentage points, while Sanders’ increase by only 4 points — giving Clinton a nearly 2-to-1 lead at 57% to 28%, with O’Malley moving up to 2%.

While Clinton has led national polls, she has been found trailing in New Hampshire and at times in Iowa — two key early voting states. And her downward trend nationally — amid questions about her use of a private email server during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state — has fueled speculation of a late Biden entry, and provided the vice president with an opening even as he grieves the death of his son Beau Biden.

If these numbers hold, then we may be seeing the beginning of the point at which Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential bid loses the momentum it has had since he entered the race in June. In that three month period, we have seen Sanders gain strength against Clinton first in New Hampshire, which at the time many observers dismissed as at least in part due to the fact that he has been a prominent figure in neighboring Vermont for decades, and later in Iowa and in the national polls. To some degree, Sanders rise has been due to the fact that the themes that he’s been running on are ones that resonate with a substantial part of the Democrat Party. In addition, though, it seems clear that Clinton’s troubles have largely been of her own making due to her campaign’s hamfisted response to questions regarding her use of a private email server as well as the fact that Clinton’s own campaign has not been running nearly as smoothly as many expected it to be. Now, though, we appear to be entering the time when Sanders is being viewed as something more than a curiosity, and at least some Democrats that have been supporting him seem to be recognizing that he would not be a viable nominee in 2016.

The most interesting thing about this poll, though, isn’t so much Clinton’s apparent bounce-back as it is the fact that Vice-President Biden has essentially drawn even with Sanders even though he currently isn’t a candidate. In previous polling both nationally and at the state level, Biden was polling below Sanders, but at the still somewhat respectable level of ~10-15%. Now, we’ve got polling showing the Vice-President essentially tied with Sanders and, as we’ve seen before, hurting Clinton much more than he would hurt Sanders if he did get into the race. What this means for the possibility of Biden actually getting into the race is anyone’s guess, though. As I noted this past weekend, Biden has given signals in both directions recently, and just yesterday his aides made clear that his wife was behind jumping into the race if that’s what he chooses to do. Whether these latest poll numbers will cause the Vice-President to jump into the race is something only time will tell, but the time for him to make a decision is running out.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. humanoid.panda says:

    Or, you know, the previous poll was an outlier and nothing changed between then and now.

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    Well at least it’s 3 relatively sane people and not the insane clown car on the Republican side.

  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    I think Jonathan Bernstein’s theory on Biden is correct. “This only confirms what some of us have been saying all along. He isn’t waiting to decide. He’s running. Not to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. She wrapped that up some time ago. He’s running for Clinton’s understudy — as the candidate who will go on at the last minute, if necessary, if she’s unable to continue for any reason.”

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I hope Biden doesn’t make himself into the Michael Jordan or the Brett Favre of politics.
    Walk away, man. You’ve had an awesome run. Collect a bunch of money for making speeches. Do some lobbying. Whatever. Just don’t be remembered for having lost to Clinton.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Joe Biden would seem to be the preferred establishment proxy should Hillary’s situation implode.

    Could be interesting if that happens – Sanders, Biden, Warren would be there. It is sort of 1968-like, when LBJ bailed early and Humphrey, RFK and McCarthy were on, and there was zero unity. Circumstances are not the same but if Hillary implodes it could be REALLY interesting.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @al-Ameda: May you live in interesting times. – Ancient Chinese curse.

    Hope this means the email thing is perceived as a lot of smoke with still no fire, and we’re all getting past it. I’d be happy with a smooth coronation right thru thru Tuesday after the first Monday in Nov next year.

  7. al-Ameda says:


    May you live in interesting times. – Ancient Chinese curse.
    Hope this means the email thing is perceived as a lot of smoke with still no fire, and we’re all getting past it. I’d be happy with a smooth coronation right thru thru Tuesday after the first Monday in Nov next year.

    I suppose that my conjecture is a corollary of “watch out what you wish for.” Well, I’m definitely not hoping for this, so maybe this is a “watch out what you’re thinking of.”

  8. SenyorDave says:

    Assuming Clinton is the eventual nominee and there is no fireworks at the convention, one has to look at the “deep bench” of the Republicans, specifically the top 3 candidates as currently polled:

    1. Trump – no comments necessary other than he’s Trump
    2. Fiorina – seems to be a serial liar/ bullshitter, was a failed CEO using the main measure of a CEO of a public company, the stock price, which declined by 55% during her tenure, wasn’t “aware” that HP sold products to Iran during the embargo while she was CEO (this should be a big issue)
    3. Carson – seems to be sleepwalking during campaign, almost completely uninformed about issues, apparently believes in a religious test for being POTUS

    There obviously could be new candidates and these three could all see a collapse in support, but the current Republican platform is pretty unpopular with large segments of the population. Once the actual campaign starts I think Clinton will look pretty good in comparison the GOP candidate. A lot of people don’t want to see the Republicans in charge of all three branches of government. Plus I think Hispanics will have a high turnout in 2016 because of Trump’s mythical border fence and will be very strong for the Democrats, no matter who the Republicans nominate.

  9. pylon says:

    All this really means is that when Biden drops out, his support goes to Clinton and she wins fairly easily.

  10. C. Clavin says:

    Yeah…I did think JEB! would hang in and win when Trump and Fiorina implode. But I think he did himself immeasurable damage when he said his brother kept us safe. That was a major unforced error…and tremendous ammunition for Clinton. So I now think he is done.
    Trump is getting all the media play…which is all free and very effective advertising. I think it’s awesome that a carnival barker is going to be the Republican nominee.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @SenyorDave: I keep being driven to the same question – do Republican primary voters have any idea what the President does? If we were electing a prom queen, purely a popularity contest, then Trump, Carson, and Fiorina make some sense. But for President?

  12. Andre Kenji says:

    Frankly, if there were smart people on the Republican side they should be winning the polls pretty easy.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Andre Kenji: I like the theory that Trump has an IQ of 300 and is a dedicated Democrat. (I like it, didn’t say I believe it.)

  14. grumpy realist says:

    Now it’s Trump vs. Fiorina.

    One can only root for injuries.

  15. C. Clavin says:
  16. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Thanks for the link. Rich is a very smart guy. He makes one point I’ve made which is that Trump did not create his supporters, his supporters are the true essence of the GOP. The GOP establishment has been amazingly slow to discover that their Mamelukes have defected to another ruler, one who espouses the true Republican faith: racism, nativism, fantasy and resentment.

    Between Trump and the delusional Mr. Carson, not to mention the slimy Mr. Cruz and the not-so-nice-anymore Huckabee they capture half the Republicans polled. Half of Republicans support someone utterly incapable of doing the job, divorced from reality, and preaching hate.

    And what do the dwindling numbers of allegedly “sane” Republicans do? They mimic Trump.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    By the way, are we just going to ignore #PigGate or #Hameron as it is sometimes tagged?

  18. Ben Wolf says:

    The race on the Democratic side isn’t in high gear yet. Wait til the end of this month. If Sander’s fundraising equals or exceeds Clinton’s then the fun begins.

  19. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: #baeofpigs

  20. dmichael says:

    I think that Frank Rich is a terrific writer and is spot on with his takes on Trump; however, he is way too sanguine about Trump’s inability to win the Republican nomination and then inability to win the election. There are deep veins of stupid and anger in this country and there are many who are both and are motivated to vote. I haven’t seen any careful analysis of how not getting many of the hispanic and black votes will necessarily result in a Trump loss. If there is one out there, please get me the cite. I need to sleep better.

  21. grumpy realist says:
  22. charon says:
  23. sam says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Thanks for the link. Rich is a very smart guy.

    Did you know that he is the Executive Producer of Veep?

  24. charon says:
  25. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Ron Beasley: This is definitely worth noting, especially when looking at the differences in party enthusiasm (with Republicans currently much more enthusiastic than Democrats). No matter which of the three among Clinton, Biden, and Sanders becomes the nominee, I am not going to go to bed each night fearful of what lunacy might be espoused the next day. It doesn’t make for a truckload of enthusiasm at this early stage, but I don’t see that as a negative. The GOP has to keep the current level of enthusiasm running until next November, which is a lot tougher as each of their candidates falls.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    What is the evidence that Martin O’Malley is actually running? Has anyone ever actually seen footage of him doing… anything? Saying anything? Campaigning?

  27. Todd says:

    Nominate Hillary Clinton, and welcome President Rubio to the White House in 2017.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Nominate Hillary Clinton, and welcome President Rubio to the White House in 2017.

    That’s one hell of an assumption…what makes you think Rubio will win the GOP nomination…

  29. Todd says:

    @An Interested Party: I hope Rubio is not the nominee. Of the “traditional” GOP candidates, I think he’s the one with the best chance of beating Clinton (he’s got the “look” and he’s got the “story” .. and that matter a lot). For different reasons, I still think Trump would beat her as well. Her best hope is that some miracle turnaround happens and Bush actually gets the nomination. I think she’d easily beat Carson or Fiorina too … but either of them getting the nomination is even less plausible than Trump.

  30. Tillman says:

    @An Interested Party: The speculative aftermath chat of the dudes at FiveThirtyEight yielded this gem:

    natesilver: I thought [Rubio] won the donor class division of the debate. I don’t know. TBH, half the time I’m like “RUBIO IS OBVIOUSLY THE BEST CANDIDATE WHY AREN’T THEY NOMINATING HIM.”

    simone: I get the strong feeling he is biding his time.

    micah: Which would be a smart strategy?

    natesilver: Yeah, if he’s deliberately not trying to peak too soon, that’s pretty smart.

    I’m not willing to assign more intelligence than necessary to any candidate, but Rubio has been acting more like a studio musician than a musical artist lately. What stands out is Trump cannot land a solid hit on him.

    Trump has demonstrated the ability to infect most who tangle with him or drag them down elsehow. He’s turned Jeb plain stupid, presuming Jeb wasn’t beforehand. (Why did he shake/high-five Trump?) He’s drawn the socons into supporting racism with his immigration talk. Fiorina got in a nice hit, but he can still use her horrible record as CEO and lost race against a vulnerable Democrat in 2010. She can claim likewise with his bankruptcies, but a shoddy businessman comes off better than a terrible businesswoman to the layman primary voter.

    The only way Trump can reliably knock Rubio, on the other hand, is immigration. However, Trump’s poisoned the well here by declaring Mexicans rapists and criminals; he can’t convincingly attack Rubio on this because he is the crazier one. He can’t attack him foreign policywise because he has no developed foreign policy, and he can’t bash Bush 43’s foreign policy at Rubio because that runs counter to the base’s impulses. He can’t claim he’s bought Rubio before because he backed Crist in the 2010 election.

    My money’s been on Rubio since April when I thought he was going for VP, but Trump’s entry since then has exposed Jeb Bush as an incompetent campaigner. I don’t think Clinton would lose outright to Rubio, but the contest would be too close for Democratic comfort.

  31. DrDaveT says:


    I still think Trump would beat her as well.

    I can’t figure out what you’re basing that on. Trump has ridiculously high “if he were the only candidate, I’d write something in just to be able to vote against him” ratings. People like that can sometimes win the nomination in a dysfunctional party, but they can never, ever win a general election.

  32. Todd says:


    I can’t figure out what you’re basing that on.

    I’ll caveat a little and say that the way things have been going lately, Trump may have gone too far to actually get the Republican nomination. However, if by some chance he is the nominee, he’ll get under Clinton’s skin at least as easily, and probably more effectively than he has with Bush.

    People like us, who frequent political forums have the mistaken belief that the majority of the American electorate cares about things like policy … they don’t. Style and charisma matter MUCH more. Think about pretty much every election in the past 40 years. The “cooler”/more personable candidate won every single time. George H.W. Bush has probably been the least charismatic President during this stretch, but he ran against Dukakis.

    Against either Trump or Rubio, Hillary Clinton is far outmatched in the charisma department. If she’s the nominee, she (and Democrats) had better hope that Jeb Bush is her opponent.

  33. Moosebreath says:


    “The only way Trump can reliably knock Rubio, on the other hand, is immigration. However, Trump’s poisoned the well here by declaring Mexicans rapists and criminals; he can’t convincingly attack Rubio on this because he is the crazier one.”

    I’m not so sure. Being crazy on immigration issues is a feature, not a bug, when it comes to a Republican primary. Reminding everyone that Rubio worked with the Obama Administration to get a compromise immigration policy is a trifecta attack right there:

    1. he worked with the Kenyan Marxist Muslim;
    2. he was willing to compromise; and
    3. he supported an immigration policy which was something other than deport them all and make sure they never come back.

  34. Todd says:


    I’m not so sure. Being crazy on immigration issues is a feature, not a bug, when it comes to a Republican primary.

    It’s a feature at this point in the process. But at the end of the day, I think the “establishment” is still going to get their way in nominating someone who they feel has a plausible chance of winning. Xenophobic bigots may represent a depressingly large chunk of the Conservative base, but I think it’s a tad bit overly cynical to assume those are the views of a majority of non-hardcore Republicans too.

  35. Tillman says:

    @Moosebreath: If it was ultimately the case that Republican voters reject any instance of immigration reform and are as nativist as they’re presented here in the comments, Trump’s support could break above the third of the primary electorate he’s locked up. It reliably hasn’t; this suggests to me immigration is the first priority of Trump’s voters above other concerns, and the other two-thirds can swallow compromise if their guy does it. Rubio was able to get thirteen other Republican senators to vote for his bill, after all. It was the House that derailed immigration reform by refusing to even put the bill to the floor.

    Being crazy has gotten Trump percentage points in the polls, but his support has always had a ceiling.

  36. charon says:


    Think about pretty much every election in the past 40 years. The “cooler”/more personable candidate won every single time.

    Correlation is not causation. Falacious reasoning.

  37. Tyrell says:

    Hiilary will make a huge mistake if she tries to “out left” Sanders. We haven’t forgotten the McGovern fiasco of ’72. If she gets much further left, she find herself in the left field foul section of Wrigley Field, a cold, lonely place come November ’16. Hillary needs to distance herself from the “open door” policy that the president has hown toward Putin.
    Bill needs to tell her – “keep it in the middle”.
    Jim Webb has finally opened up. The subject is the growing Chinese military threat. Webb has tons of experience, a former Secretary of the Navy, and combat experience. A Clinton – Webb ticket would be hard to beat.
    “If Obama keeps drawing those lines in the sand, he’s going to need a John Deere tractor !” (radio show)

  38. DrDaveT says:


    We haven’t forgotten the McGovern fiasco of ’72.

    McGovern was running against Richard Nixon, whose economic and foreign policies were actually to the left of Hillary’s. (You could look it up.) It’s not surprising that McGovern’s were even farther to the left than that.

    If a candidate in either party were to stand up and advocate for things Nixon actually did — price controls, reopening diplomatic relations with nations we don’t speak with, withdrawing unilaterally from a war we couldn’t win, etc. — she’d be dismissed as a socialist dove.