By Jim Ellis
April 25, 2019 — After months of speculation, Joe Biden finally enters the Democratic presidential nomination process amid heavy speculation that he will be targeted with negative attacks once the overall campaign develops. The Biden operation released a video of the candidate (above) detailing just why he wants to run for President in 2020.
Already, there have been multiple stories about the former vice president and ex-Delaware senator’s role in the Anita Hill controversy during the 1991 Justice Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, his vote for the Iraq War, his opposition to forced busing in the 1970s, and even the eulogy he gave Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) at his funeral. Additionally, several women have come forward to claim he made them uncomfortable at certain meetings or events, and we can be assured that this issue has not yet died.
Biden, at least until the last couple of weeks, was viewed as the clear front runner, and polling demonstrated that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were pulling away from the large pack of what is now 20 candidates. Yet, more recent national surveys and some state data from both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two voting events, suggest that the two are falling into a virtual tie, or that Sen. Sanders has a small lead.
A newly-released national study, from Ipsos Reuters, again establishes Biden as the clear leader, but methodological questions surround the survey. The poll, conducted from April 17-23, included a sampling universe of 4,018 adults, with 1,449 self-identified as Democrats in addition to 788 self-identified Independents. But the pollsters did not segment registered voters, or, what is usually most reliable, likely primary voters or caucus attenders.
Still, the results find Biden again developing a large lead, topping Sen. Sanders 24-15 percent with all other candidates, including third-place finisher Pete Buttigieg, in single-digits.
Even though Biden re-establishes almost a 10-point lead, there are still warning signs in this poll. The fact that he again obtains support from only 24 percent of the Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents suggests trouble in getting to a first-ballot victory at the national convention, beginning July 13 in Milwaukee, where an absolute majority is required for nomination.
Within a Democratic sampling cell from the Ipsos poll, 30 percent of the self-identified Democrats support Biden as opposed to only a 14 percent support factor from the Independents (tying Sanders within this group), some of whom can choose to vote in the Democratic primary from states holding modified primaries.
This suggests that the former vice president may be stronger because predominantly Democrats will be voting in these key primaries. Even the enhanced Democratic support number, however, is nowhere near majority strength at what could well be Biden’s high point.
Though Biden had a liberal record as a member of the Senate for 36 years, he appeals to the more moderate segment of the Democratic Party. His victory strategy would involve developing a coalition of center-left Democratic voters since most of his opponents are moving to the far left.
Should no one amass a large enough delegate coalition to score a first ballot victory, Biden could well be the beneficiary. Under the new party rules governing Super Delegates, though they can’t vote on the first ballot, they are eligible to vote in subsequent roll calls. The Super Delegates are largely the party elite and a great many of them would likely see Biden as their best option to defeat President Trump.
In many ways, the former vice president would match up well with the president. Less threatening to the average voter than Sen. Sanders and many of the other candidates, Biden might have the opportunity of converting Independents to his column, which could be the determining group in the 2020 election.
Geographically, he could also cause Trump problems. While his strength in small Delaware and his native Pennsylvania is a net negative in the primaries because the two states vote late in the process, the latter commonwealth was a critical component of the Trump 2016 victory coalition. Additionally, his career-long strength with labor union members could also bode well for him in the Great Lakes region, which will be the most pivotal region on the Electoral College map in 2020.