Joe Biden isn’t the only Democrat getting bad news after last week’s Democratic primary debates.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose socialist challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016 helped move the Democratic Party further left, is also suffering recent polls.
And California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are surging.
While Biden remains the front-runner overall, his commanding lead has been whittled down – badly in one major poll — after Harris’ frontal assault Thursday on his relationships with segregationist Democratic senators during Biden’s early days in the Senate in the 1970s.
In three polls released this week, however, Sanders lost his longtime second-place position behind Biden in the crowded Democratic field, according to The Hill.
A CNN poll out Monday found Biden leading with 22 percent, Harris at 17 percent, Warren at 15 percent and Sanders bringing up the rear of the top-tier candidates with 14 percent.
For Harris, that’s a 9-point gain since May. For Warren, it’s an 8-point gain, according to CNN. Those are numbers any campaign would want.
A Suffolk University poll of Iowa voters released Tuesday found Biden at 24 percent, Harris at 16 percent, Warren at 13 percent and Sanders at a single-digit 9 percent.
And a Quinnipiac University poll out Tuesday had Biden at 22 percent, Harris at 20 percent, Warren with 14 percent and Sanders again in fourth at 13 percent.
For Warren, that number is actually a slight drop from 15 percent, but for Harris it’s an impressive jump of 13 points since June 11, Quinnipiac reported.
The good news for Sanders came in a poll released Wednesday by ABC News/The Washington Post that showed he remained in second behind Biden, with 23 percent compared to Biden’s 29 percent.
Both candidates were well ahead of Harris and Warren, who each netted 11 percent.
Those first three polls have some Democrats wondering if the firebrand who nearly burned the Clinton campaign during the 2016 primary might have lost his spark.
“Bernie didn’t scare anyone away from jumping into this race and now he comes out of the debate with the worst possible outcome – nobody is talking about him,” Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist, told The Hill.
“In 2016, he benefited from being the only alternative to the establishment candidate. In 2020, the entire political world has changed except for him. His biggest problem right now is that he looks like a candidate of the past, and that’s not a good place to be.”
Another way of putting it would be “second place” is not a good place to be. “Fourth place” is an even worse place to be – especially for a known quantity like Sanders.
It’s an old political adage that when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate, “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.”
That doesn’t bode well for Sanders, who was a novelty for most of the country in 2016. Even his crackpot socialist ideas sounded were preferable to Clinton’s entitled and anodyne statements.
In the primary season of 2020, the Democratic field is full of fresh faces for Democrats to fall in love with – and they’re men and women, white and black. One is even a gay mayor of a small city.
After her headline-grabbing attack on Biden on Thursday, Harris has achieved flavor-of-the-month status among Democrats and the media. That’s a surge that’s likely coming at Biden and Sanders’ expense.
Warren, meanwhile, is likely to keep plugging away, convinced that Americans have been dying for a shrill scolder who spent a lifetime in academia to lead them in a dangerous world. (She’s radically wrong about that.)
Biden is likely to stay above the fray for some time, favored by Democrats who are certain in their bones their party is going to get slaughtered in November if it puts up anybody besides former President Barack Obama’s old sidekick against a Trump re-election bid.
Harris and Warren have momentum coming out of the debates and the novelty crop of other Democratic candidates has room to grow.
Sanders, meanwhile, is a guy who couldn’t beat Hillary Clinton three years ago and whose ideas and attitude have been copied or co-opted by his younger and flashier rivals.
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for the Sanders campaign, told The Hill the campaign is glad to be underestimated by the media these days.
But if the campaign keeps losing in three polls out of four, it won’t be glad for long.
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