This is very bad news for former Vice President Joe Biden.
A new Monmouth University Poll indicates that for the first time, Biden’s support in the Democratic presidential nomination race has dipped below 20%. The poll, which surveyed 298 registered Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters nationally, shows Biden coming in at 19%. It was conducted August 16-20, 2019 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7%.
In June, Biden led the field with 32%, a level of support he has maintained since polling for this primary began. In the last two months, he has lost 13 points.
At the same time, his nearest rivals, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have increased their support to 20% each. In June, Warren’s support stood at 15% and Sanders’, at 14%. This can only be described as a major shift in the race.
The same survey shows Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 8%, no change since June; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), each at 4%; and four others, former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Julián Castro (D-TX), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and author Marianne Williamson, with more than 1% of support.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the race has entered a “new phase. The main takeaway from this poll is that the Democratic race has become volatile. Liberal voters are starting to cast about for a candidate they can identify with. Moderate voters, who have been paying less attention, seem to be expressing doubts about Biden. But they are swinging more toward one of the left-leaning contenders with high name recognition rather than toward a lesser known candidate who might be more in line with them politically.”
The poll shows that Biden has lost support across the board since June and that support has accrued to Sanders and Warren. Full polling results can be viewed here.
Another recent poll, The Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted August 17 – 20, 2019, surveyed 1500 US Adult citizens. Biden received 22% of support, Sanders at 19% and Warren at 18%.
Although Murray warns this is only one poll, the results make sense given Biden’s performance on the campaign trail over the last couple of months. Biden has actually given Democratic primary voters many reasons not to vote for him. In addition to his clumsy flip flops on issues such as the Hyde Amendment, he seems to commit a new gaffe every time he appears at a campaign event. And sadly, it’s becoming apparent that age is starting to take its toll on him. This, I think, may become his biggest roadblock to the nomination.
But his problems go beyond his gaffes and his age. Even among voters who support him, there is a complete lack of enthusiasm. People like him and everyone knows his name. Good old Joe has been around Washington forever and by virtue of that, people appear to trust him more than say a Kamala Harris or a Cory Booker. But try as he might, he cannot seem to energize his base. I wrote about this here.
Prior to these poll results, Murray told the New York Times, “I did not meet one Biden voter who was in any way, shape or form excited about voting for Biden.” That statement speaks volumes.
Murray added, “They feel that they have to vote for Joe Biden as the centrist candidate, to keep somebody from the left who they feel is unelectable from getting the nomination.”
The New Republic’s Alex Shepherd wrote an article last week entitled “Is the Biden Bubble About to Burst?” in which he argues that Biden’s “electability” pitch is “losing its luster.” Shephard acknowledges that Biden has a commanding lead in all of the polls. But, he says, “that lead may be illusory. There’s a growing sense that Biden is something of a starter nominee, a candidate that voters can glom onto while they search for someone who better suits their values.”
Ever since Hillary Clinton’s defeat, Biden has been presented to us as the only candidate who can beat Donald Trump. With one exception, he has led decisively in every Democratic primary poll followed by Real Clear Politics since regular polling began last October. The single exception was an Emerson Poll, conducted between March 17-18, 2019, that showed Biden and Sanders tied at 26%, with Warren garnering 8%.
If I were Joe Biden right now, I’d be getting a little nervous. Because I hate to break it to him, but this is a Big F**king deal.