Biden’s Poll Numbers Get Another Boost

Biden with talk show host Steven Colbert

Image courtesy of CBS/Late Night With Stephen Colbert

Biden’s Poll Numbers Get Another Boost
| published September 23, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff

Even though Vice-President Joe Biden is not officially running for President, his poll numbers continue to look good. In fact, if Biden were to enter the race, he could divide Democratic loyalties in a three-way split.

According to a new Bloomberg survey released on Wednesday, Biden is pulling in about 25% support from those who identify themselves as Democrats, Democratic-leaning independents, or left-leaning unaligned voters. The new poll results are significant in that Biden has pulled alongside Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, with roughly 24% in the same poll.

Hillary Clinton leads the race with 33% support from registered Democrats and those independents who lean Democratic. Though Clinton leads the field, the nearly three-way split exposes dissatisfaction among many Democrats; more than half of Democrats now support candidates other than Clinton.

The remaining major Democratic candidates have little impact on the new polling. Former Virginia Senator James Webb (a political centrist) pulls-in about 2%, with former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley taking in about 1%. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig do not generate any measurable result in the Bloomberg poll; this calls into question whether they will qualify even to make the cut to enter the first major Democratic Party debate scheduled for next month.

Speculation about a Biden run has been more-or-less continuous for several months. The White House indicated that it would have its blessing if Biden chooses to enter the race, though it is not likely Biden will receive an official “endorsement” from President Obama. Biden has been meeting with potential strategists, as well as heavy-hitter fundraisers known to support Democratic candidates. A meeting between Biden and former banker and Wall Street investor Robert Wolf ten days ago, and only hours after Biden's much-watched appearance on CBS's Late Night With Stephen Colbert, sparked an intense round of fresh talk that Biden was seriously considering a run--despite his reticence with Colbert during the show's taping.

Though Biden has repeatedly said he has not formally made a decision about running in 2016, he has been working like a man looking into every possible consideration. Biden is being spurred onward by several major grassroots efforts to induce him to run, including a Super PAC called Draft Biden 2016. The PAC has staff, fundraisers, a legion of volunteers, and is in the process of securing endorsements in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Draft Biden 2016 has also gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures from Democrats on a petition urging Biden to enter the race. The group is also selling campaign items online in an effort to generate additional cash.

Biden’s political stock has risen substantially in recent last months, almost in direct proportion to the troubles which now dog the Clinton campaign. Clinton has faced a storm of criticism over her decision to use a privately-crafted email account while serving as U.S. Secretary of State from early 2009 to 2013. The decision, which she says was made strictly for the sake of convenience, has proven problematic since the beginning of this year. Among other things, Clinton acknowledges that she personally deleted some 31, 000 emails when her tenure as top diplomat ended. This has stoked a seemingly inextinguishable fire—among reporters, investigators, and Republicans in Congress—that Clinton has deliberately dodged accountability and transparency.

Word leaked out this week that the FBI’s forensic computer experts have begun to successfully extract emails from Clinton’s server. The collective outcome of an examination of those emails may eventually vindicate Clinton, or they inflict further damage to her campaign.

In the meantime, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders remains Clinton’s only official serious challenger. Sanders leads Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire—both critical and sometimes decisive early contests. But Clinton still maintains a comfortable lead in other states, including South Carolina, the next major contest after New Hampshire. Clinton’s lead nationally continues to shrink, though it is possible she could regain her momentum if the email scandal and Server-gate issues soon blow over.

Clinton suffered heavy damage as the email controversy unfolded over the late spring and early summer, with the net result that her unfavorable ratings grew substantially larger. Biden meanwhile is the only Democrat to see his favorable ratings on the rise during that same period.

Political analysts expect that Biden will be forced to make a decision very soon—within eight to ten days—in order to officially qualify in several primary and caucus states, and in order to be considered as a participant in the first Democratic debate in October.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Why Biden’s Stock Keeps Rising; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; September 16, 2015.

Biden Meeting With Wolf Raises Speculation; Thursday Review; September 14,2015.