Monday, March 09, 2020


It used to be conventional wisdom that the day Joe Biden announced his presidential campaign would be the campaign's best day -- after that, he'd fade into irrelevance. That fade started to happen, but at this moment he's perfectly positioned to win the nomination and win in November, or so it appears:
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a double-digit lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, a new CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide conducted by SSRS shows.

The poll finds 52% of registered voters who are Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents say they want to see Biden win the nomination, while 36% say they'd rather see Sanders win....

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the race on Thursday, lands at 7% in the poll. That is largely due to her 18% showing in interviews conducted on Wednesday, before she ended her campaign. Among those interviewed after she left the contest, Biden's support rose to 57%, Sanders stood at 36%, while 2% volunteered that they still backed Warren. Another 6% chose someone else or were unsure about who they would support.
Yes, Biden gains 5 points from Warren's departure and Sanders gains nothing.

As for the general election:
The poll finds both Biden and Sanders hold significant leads over Trump in hypothetical general election matchups among registered voters. Biden tops Trump 53% to 43%, while Sanders leads by 52% to 45%. Among those voters who live in 15 battleground states -- those decided by 8 points or less in the 2016 election -- Biden narrowly tops Trump, 51% to 45%, while Sanders and Trump are within the margin of error of each other, 49% back Sanders, 46% Trump.
Same as most other polls -- yes, Bernie beats Trump, but Biden beats Trump more decisively. (A 6-point lead in battleground states is a lot more solid than a 3-point lead.)

Does America love Joe Biden right now? Not really. Biden's approval/dsapproval is at 48%/44%, the first time he's been in positive territory for a while. But Trump's numbers are 43%/54%.

In 2016, those voters who felt unfavorable toward both Hillary Clinton and Trump broke sharply in Trump's direction, according to exit polls. This poll finds that those holding unfavorable views of both Trump and the top Democratic candidates are largely breaking against Trump at this point in the race.
In an America not facing Covid-19, there'd be two possibilities: The Trump campaign and the right-wing character assassination machine would successfully tarnish Biden's reputation, persuade swing voters that he's corrupt and in a late stage of dementia, and win again -- or the public would regard Biden as a decent guy who might have lost a step but is a perfectly acceptable vehicle to get us the hell out of Trumpworld.

Right now, I think the latter is what America believes. It's possible that the coronavirus dominating the news will make it harder for the GOP attacks on Biden to get traction.

In the absence of the virus, I might think that this is Joe Biden's best day: Much of the party is rallying around him, but it won't last. But under these circumstances -- assuming Biden stays healthy -- he might pull this off.

Or maybe he would have pulled this off even without the virus. The public might believe he's sharp enough, and that the dementia attacks are merely attacks on Biden's lack of slickness. (Remember, many people rallied to Trump because they thought he wasn't a typical slick politician.) Non-Republicans might rally around Biden if he's attacked on his son's business dealings the way Republicans rallied around Trump during impeachment. He might really be well positioned to win this.

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