Biden’s Good and Bad News

By Jim Ellis

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Feb. 19, 2020 — Despite former Vice President Joe Biden’s poor performance in Iowa and New Hampshire, the latest available data suggests his presidential campaign status is not as dire as some in the media are prognosticating.

There have only been five Nevada Caucus polls released since the first of the year and the most recent one appears potentially unreliable. Point Blank Associates actually finds Tom Steyer leading the poll conducted over the Feb. 13-15 period, in a 19-16-14-13-13 percent count over Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former mayor, Pete Buttigieg. This poll has a sample size of only 256 respondents, thus making the error factor unacceptably high.

On the other hand, WPA Intelligence went into the field over the Feb. 11-13 period with a more reasonable sample size of 413 individuals who are described as likely voters. In contrast with the Point Blank result, WPAi finds Sen. Sanders leading the field, a conclusion more consistent with previously released polls. According to WPA, the split is 25-18-13-11-10-10 percent, with Biden in second place followed consecutively by Warren, Steyer, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar.

Therefore, while Biden is not leading either of these Nevada polls, he looks to be in range for potential delegate allocation. Obtaining delegate votes in Nevada will put him in better position to rebound for Super Tuesday, and particularly so if he can hold on to win in South Carolina.

The new East Carolina University survey still finds Biden leading the field in the Palmetto State as he has in every poll conducted in January, early February, and all of last year. East Carolina (Feb. 12-13; 703 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters) projects Biden to a 28-20-14 percent lead over Sanders and Steyer, respectively. All others fall below 10 percent support.

Though Biden has a South Carolina advantage beyond the polling margin of error, his standing has substantially weakened since ECU’s last conducted survey, which came directly before the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary (Jan. 31-Feb. 2; 469 likely South Carolina Democratic primary voters). In that polling iteration, Biden’s lead was a much healthier 37-19-14 percent over Sanders and Steyer, with again all others recording support percentages falling under 10.

The ECU data appears reliable because the Sanders and Steyer numbers are seemingly consistent with how each man performed in the first two voting events. It is reasonable to assume that Sanders would gain support while Steyer would fall back when overlaying the actual vote results from Iowa and New Hampshire.

Therefore, it is likely that ECU is consistent for Biden’s standing as well. Thus, it appears reasonable to believe that the former vice president continues to lead in the Palmetto State but with a reduced margin.

News from other states is likewise bullish and bearish for the former VP. In Florida, a state where Biden has consistently enjoyed wide leads, St. Pete Polls, a pollster with an erratic record, sees former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg pulling ahead of Biden in their most recent online survey (Feb. 12-13; 3,047 likely Florida Democratic primary voters). St. Pete finds Bloomberg clinging to a one-point, 27-26 percent edge over Biden with Buttigieg and Sanders being the only others to break into double digits at 11 and 10 percent, respectively.

In Texas, YouGov finds that Biden’s once strong lead has evaporated with Sanders surpassing him. Their survey (Jan. 31-Feb. 9; 575 likely Texas Democratic primary voters) sees the Vermont lawmaker eclipsing the former VP 24-22 percent, with Warren and Bloomberg following with 15 and 10 percent. Therefore, with 228 first-ballot delegates at stake, this poll suggests that Sanders, Biden, and Warren will each obtain a significant share of bound first-ballot delegate votes.

The underlying theme with all of these key state polls, regardless of how Biden fares, is that several candidates remain alive for the nomination and no clear leader, as defined as one who could reach majority support on the first ballot, is emerging. Should the results be as muddled as these polls suggest, a contested national convention appears looming in the Democrats’ future.

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