With its field of presidential candidates now numbering 22, the Democratic Party is in for a free-for-all in nominating a candidate to face President Donald Trump in November 2020.
Most of the contenders have staked out positions well to the left on the political spectrum, believing that in order to win the nomination, they will have to have “progressives” in their corner.
Senators such as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are fighting for the votes that went in 2016 to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running hard again this time. Others are trying to find a niche and build momentum in hopes of repeating a Barack Obama-type rise to the nomination.
The candidate not playing their game is former Vice President Joe Biden. Some believe he is leading the polls consistently only because he has name recognition that others lack.
But InsideSources.com political editor Michael Graham writes that Democrats dismissing Biden’s front-runner status do so at their own peril.
“The name ID certainly helps, but I think it’s more than that,” public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute told Graham. “It’s a contrast to Trump that Democrats like, in addition to seeing him [Biden] as someone they think can win.”
Bowman’s view is it’s almost impossible to overestimate how much Democratic primary voters are focused on a candidate who can beat Trump. It’s a constant in polling data.
“It’s reasonable to say that the trajectory of this race is going to largely be determined by whether or not one of the other candidates can make the case that they are at least as strong taking on Trump as Biden. That’s where the race is at this point.”
As a result, Biden is leading in the new Emerson University poll with 33 percent and Sanders with 25 percent. Harris and Warren are tied for third with each getting 10 percent of the vote, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounds out the top 5 with 8 percent. No other candidate is above 3 percent.
While Biden winning the nomination is no certainty, he does have a better shot than any moderate Democrat since Bill Clinton. While the far left is splitting up the vote, a sizable portion of the electorate not calling itself liberal and willing to vote for a Democrat sees Biden as the way to oust Trump.
Age is a factor for the Biden candidacy but should not doom it. And don’t look for the former vice president to move further to the left even as he takes shots from liberals for positions on climate change, foreign policy and health care.
In just about every way, what Biden represents is a return to “normalcy” in the presidency, even if very many considering him voted for Trump for exactly the opposite reason in 2016 – to get rid of the Washington norm. Middle-of-the-spectrum voters hold the key to winning in November 2020.
Among the Democrats, Biden is to date the only candidate who could win over those voters. The others will drive moderates into the Trump camp.