Biden Beginning to Show Cracks

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential bid.

June 11, 2019 — Two polls were just released in critical Democratic primary states that find former Vice President Joe Biden’s standing to be weaker than his latest national polling results.

In Texas, the Change Research poll (May 20-June 3; 1,218 likely Texas Democratic primary voters) projects that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has risen to the top of his home state electorate, leading Biden, 27-24 percent with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 13 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is right behind with 12 percent, while California Sen. Kamala Harris records only eight percent backing.

Turning to Iowa, Selzer & Company released another of their Iowa Polls (June 2-5; 600 likely Iowa Caucus attenders; 433 saying they would personally attend their precinct caucus meeting while another 167 said they were interested in participating in the new virtual caucus that will be an Iowa Caucus feature for the first time) and while Biden leads the group of Democratic candidates, the combined numbers from the second, third, and fourth place finishers outpaces the leader by almost a 2:1 ratio.

In the Iowa Poll, conducted for CNN, the Des Moines Register newspaper, and Mediacom, Biden posts only 24 percent support. He is followed by Sen. Sanders at 16 percent, Sen. Warren notching 15 percent, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing closely with 14 percent. But, Sens. Sanders and Warren together top Biden by seven percentage points and when Buttigieg is added, the trio comes close to denying Biden even the possibility of reaching majority status.

The Texas poll is curious in that it is the first data set to find Biden trailing in the Lone Star State. Though, at this point, we must again mention the Quinnipiac University Texas survey from last week (May 29-June 4; 407 likely TX Democratic primary voters) that posted Biden to a more comfortable 30-16-15-11 percent advantage over O’Rourke, Sanders, and Warren, respectively.

Iowa is the first state in the long national voting process and has proven to be a trendsetter, particularly in a negative way for front runners who under-perform here. It is important to remember that the aggregate delegate count is small (41). They only have 14 at-large delegate votes under the Democratic allocation formula, and if the top four candidates from this poll were to exceed the minimum 15 percent vote threshold, the count would be split almost down the middle. Biden would get five delegates, and Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg would each receive just three votes apiece.

The state has 27 congressional district delegates spread through its four congressional CDs in multiples of five through eight. In each district, candidates exceeding the 15 percent threshold would qualify for delegate dispersion in that particular district.

Looking at the total picture, Biden would likely gain approximately nine delegates if he were to top the field in each of the four congressional districts in the same ratio as the at-large vote. This would likely give him 14-15 committed first ballot delegates coming from the Iowa Caucus, hardly a number that would create the kind of momentum that would allow him to steamroll through the other early states.

Next, the schedule moves to the New Hampshire primary, a state that has only 24 first-ballot delegates: eight at-large, and eight each from its two congressional districts.

In 2016, Sen. Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here, 60-38 percent. If Sanders were to again win this state’s primary, one that lies directly adjacent to his home state of Vermont, Biden’s combined national delegate vote total could conceivably be as low as 20-22 after the first two states, hardly a number that would force other candidates to the sideline, especially when Sanders would potentially be sitting close to the 20 number, himself. To put this number in perspective, to win the nomination, a contender would need to commit 1,885 first-ballot delegates.

No matter how the first two states vote, it is likely that the combined Iowa-New Hampshire delegate count would be tight among the leaders, thus giving hope to every other candidate within what still should continue to be a very large field of contenders.

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