Aug. 27, 2015 — Major speculation continues to swirl around Vice President Joe Biden. Meetings of key potential supporters now occur with great frequency, and talk of a ticket involving Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was jump-started when the two held a private meeting just last week. Therefore, it appears only a matter of time before a Biden for President campaign formally launches.
Hillary Clinton continues to stumble along the campaign trail, which is making Democratic leaders nervous, and willing to consider alternatives. But could a late-forming Biden campaign actually be successful? The answer is: possibly. It is conceivable that VP Biden could end up being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time … at least as far as the Democratic nomination is concerned.
The Democrats choose their convention delegates very differently than Republicans. Their process features greater party leadership control, so Clinton is in more trouble in the Democratic process than she might be running on the Republican side. While the GOP, featuring 17 candidates with a current front-runner who can’t reach 50 percent, could well be headed to a brokered convention, it is unlikely that Democrats will find themselves embroiled in such a predicament even though they will have three major candidates fighting through a grueling primary and caucus schedule.
The presence of what are commonly referred to as Democratic ”Super Delegates” expands their delegate total to 4,483 as compared to the Republicans’ 2,470. The Super Delegates, largely elected officials and “distinguished party leaders” from around the 50 state, five territories, and other entities, are free agents who can vote as they choose. With almost 20 percent of the convention-voting universe in the Super Delegate category, it is much simpler for the Democratic Party leadership to control outcome of the nomination process than for their Republican counterparts.
But how would a gaffe prone Vice President to turn 74 years of age two months before being sworn in as president, and is directly tied to the most controversial Obama Administration policy initiatives defeat the eventual Republican nominee? Obviously, it depends upon the race configuration, who the Republicans nominate, if Donald Trump runs as an Independent, and many other factors.
Though Biden appears to be gaining steam as a potential candidate, polling doesn’t yet show him anywhere near front-runner Clinton. We don’t yet have much information as to how he would fare against the strongest Republicans, but all indications here suggest a push situation at best.
The Quinnipiac University swing state polls from last week (Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania) found Biden in a less than dominant position. His favorable rating in Florida was only 44:43 percent positive to negative. He held three-point plus margins in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, but he should be much stronger in the former state. Biden was born in Scranton, Pa., and represented neighboring Delaware as a senator for 36 years.
In an early ballot test from three states that could well determine the final national outcome, the Q-Poll paired the Vice President with three different Republicans: ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sunshine State Sen. Marco Rubio, and Trump. In the nine hypothetical contests, Biden would top his Republican opponent only five times, though he swept the three-race prototype in Ohio. Removing Trump from the pairings, Biden would then only beat Bush and Rubio in Ohio, and there by just three and one point(s), respectively.
As has been the case in this presidential campaign so far, the unexpected continues and VP Biden joining the presidential race would be one more surprising twist, from the perspective of even a few weeks ago. While Biden may very well solve the Democrats’ nomination problems, his ability to win the general election remains questionable.