The bad news for Joe Biden isn’t just limited to the fact that we’re now collectively re-examining his son’s activities in Ukraine or whether there was a conflict of interest when he pressured the country in 2016 to fire its top prosecutor.
No, now the former vice president has to deal with the fact that, for the first time during the 2020 Democratic race, he isn’t definitively ahead.
Two polls released last week showed Biden trailing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“The poll finds Warren (28%) and Biden (25%) at the front of the pack for the presidential nomination preferences of self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters across the country, with Sanders (15%) following behind,” Monmouth’s survey, released Wednesday, found.
“Monmouth’s August poll, which showed a three-way race at the top among Warren (20%), Biden (19%), and Sanders (20%), was considered an outlier at the time it was released. Still, Biden’s backing remains lower in the current poll than it was early in the summer (32% in June) whereas Warren’s support continues to grow (15% in June). Support for Sanders is in line with where it stood in June (14%).”
The last three Economist/YouGov surveys, according to RealClearPolitics, have seen Biden’s 5-point lead evaporate into a 6-point deficit, according to RealClearPolitics.
That’s an 11-point swing since a Sept. 14-17 poll. A Sept. 22-24 poll showed Warren up by just one percentage point.
According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Biden is still up over Warren by a little over two points, 26.2 percent to 24.0 percent.
However, as late as May, Biden enjoyed a 26-point advantage — and that wasn’t even over Warren. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was second in the aggregate at that point, polling at a little under 15 percent.
And that brings up another point that Biden isn’t going to like: The Monmouth Poll was taken before Sanders was hospitalized with a heart attack and the Economist/YouGov survey ended on the day of his hospitalization.
Sanders’ campaign was initially cagey about whether the 78-year-old independent socialist had suffered a heart attack, initially preferring to say he had undergone a procedure to insert stents into his arteries after an incident at a campaign event in Nevada.
“While much of the conversation in the Democratic race has centered on issues like health care and student debt, Mr. Sanders’s heart attack is likely to heighten scrutiny on age in a primary where the top candidates are all in their 70s. In addition to Mr. Sanders, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is 76 and Senator Elizabeth Warren is 70. President Trump is 73,” The New York Times reported Thursday.
“But if Mr. Sanders has, until this week, largely avoided questions about his health — he has projected an image of fitness as a candidate and has maintained a blistering schedule on the campaign trail — the spotlight is now squarely on him. The ages of the current leaders notwithstanding, many Democratic voters have expressed discomfort with nominating a septuagenarian candidate, a notion that some political strategists say Mr. Sanders’s heart attack is unlikely to dispel.”
The biggest beneficiary of Sanders’ health issues will likely be Warren, who’s already picked up a fair amount of support from Sanders on her way to the top.
“Warren’s turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable, given that her campaign was once virtually left for dead after being criticized for starting too early, and after its rollout was marred by widespread embarrassment over her DNA test debacle,” TheBlaze reported.
“But since May, when she was polling at a paltry 8 percent, Warren has slowly and steadily climbed to the front of the pack, climbing over Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris in the process.”
Now, it is worth pointing out that another poll taken last week still had Biden up — and by 11 percent as that. However, Warren has quickly closed in the aggregate, and the gap is closing even more quickly now that the former vice president’s Ukraine scandal has become a millstone around his neck.
Perhaps the biggest problem for Biden are the numbers in the first two states to vote.
Polls have shown that Warren is ahead in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states that primaries and caucuses will be contested in.
Biden has long held a significant lead in the next big primary, South Carolina, where his support in the black community is expected to propel him to victory.
According to The New York Times, however, Biden donors are worried.
“Over cocktails on Friday evening and a Saturday spent in a drab hotel conference room, Mr. Biden’s top financiers and fund-raisers received strategy briefings and PowerPoint presentations, and plotted the path forward for the former vice president, who suddenly found himself in fourth place in the money chase,” The Times reported Saturday.
“Only hours before the gathering began, the news broke that Ms. Warren, now seen as Mr. Biden’s chief rival, had out-raised him in the last three months by nearly $10 million — $24.6 million to $15.2 million. He lagged behind Senator Bernie Sanders ($25.3 million) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($19.1 million), too.”
Ukraine wasn’t mentioned in the article, but it’s yet another issue that’s hanging around the Biden campaign like a storm cloud.
Let’s be clear: Ukraine likely won’t undo Biden on its own. The issue with his campaign has always been the slow death by a thousand cuts. However, Ukraine was a pretty deep cut. The polls are starting to show that — and once his invincibility goes, so does the rest of his appeal, whatever it may be.
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