Yes, all the usual caveats -- it's very early, no debates have occurred yet, etc. -- remain firmly in place, and making any sweeping pronouncements about where this process is headed still feels wildly premature. But let's face reality: Since jumping into the race, former Vice President Joe Biden has catapulted himself into a commanding lead. A trio of national polls last week showed Biden climbing into the mid-to-high 30's, which is impressive unto itself, considering the large and growing field. The latest survey gives Biden his largest lead to date, jumping into the mid-40's:
Joe Biden holds a 30-point lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic presidential field, according to a Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill, further signaling that the former vice president is cementing his place as the primary contest’s front-runner. Forty-four percent of Democratic voters surveyed said they are most likely to vote for Biden in the 2020 Democratic primaries. Sanders comes in second place at 14 percent, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) places third with just 9 percent, the poll found...Among respondents, 5 percent said they would most likely vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, was picked by 4 percent. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) tied for sixth place at 3 percent. When it comes to who voters think has the best chance of beating President Trump in the 2020 general election, Biden still has a significant lead, with 40 percent of respondents saying as such. Sanders comes in after the former vice president at 13 percent.
May I remind you that Biden is within shouting distance of commanding half of Democratic primary voters' support, despite the fact that he'll soon be vying against an astounding 22 rivals (two more Democrats entered the race last week, with New York City's mayor reportedly poised to throw his hat into the ring, too). I'll again caution that it's far too early to declare Biden a prohibitive frontrunner, but it's not crazy to start thinking about how soon that label might undeniably apply. My spitballed thought is that if Uncle Joe is still attracting this approximate level of support after a handful of debates -- and after he's been directly confronted over his progressive 'sins' of years past -- he'll be the odds-on favorite to not only capture the nomination, but to possibly do so rather easily. To wit, there's some evidence that Biden hasn't necessarily hit his ceiling. A fresh YouGov poll shows an outright majority of Democratic voters are at least considering casting a primary ballot for Biden. As you survey these numbers, take note of Bernie Sanders' flat-lining anti-momentum:
What's going on with Bernie? Allahpundit wonders if his 2020 strength was always overrated:
He’s well-known from 2016, has famously ardent fans, and has been anointed the avatar of the democratic socialist movement whose moment has allegedly arrived. Turns out all of that is good for about 13 percent with Biden in the race. Even if you ceded all of Elizabeth Warren’s support to him, he looks to be a 25-30 percent candidate. But of course not all of Warren’s support would go to Bernie if she dropped out tomorrow...If Berniemania really is a thing, why isn’t there stronger evidence of it now that the field is more or less set? Bernie fans have spent the past few years insisting that Trump did as well as he did in 2016 only because he had the great good luck to run head-to-head against a candidate as feeble as Hillary Clinton. But Trump wasn’t the only populist phenom with that good luck, now was he?
The conventional wisdom, backed by Biden's previous whiffs as a presidential candidate, was that Joe was stronger on paper than he'd be as an actual candidate. That may still turn out to be the case, and he could melt down once the fire gets hotter. But what if that analysis really applies to Bernie, not Biden? The Harris/Harvard poll gives the former VP a wide lead on the ephemeral and subjective (yet crucially important to Democrats, especially this cycle) measure of electability. I can't help but wondering if Sanders' little adventure down the path of proposing an expansion of voting "rights" to imprisoned terrorists, murderers, rapists, corrupt politicians, and other convicted felons, may have spooked some voters. It's a radical and very unpopular idea, yet Bernie charged into that battle with no apparent consideration about how it might play. Are those the political instincts that will defeat Donald Trump next fall? Even some hardened lefties may not be confident about answering that question in the affirmative. And there's more where this moral bankruptcy came from:
“[In the Soviet Union], at a banquet attended by about 100 people, Sanders blasted the way the United States had intervened in other countries, stunning one of those who had accompanied him. 'I got really upset and walked out.’"https://t.co/aIemfaacMC pic.twitter.com/iX9s6U5YRM— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) May 3, 2019
Sanders also praised the brutally repressive Castro regime in Cuba as having made "enormous progress" on behalf of poor people, praising the depth of the country's Communist revolution. The Washington Post reports that Sanders "returned home [from Cuba] with even greater praise than he had for the Soviet Union [where he chose to honeymoon]," claiming that he witnessed no hunger or homelessness, and that the dictatorship offered free and "very high quality" healthcare. Perhaps increasing numbers of Democratic partisans don't want to deal with that mess, and would prefer a surer, safer bet. I'll leave you with two comments from Biden (one a few years old, the other much more recent) that will enrage the loud 'n proud Left, but will probably appeal to many others -- including some conservatives:
Joe Biden: "I actually like Dick Cheney... I get on with him. I think he's a decent man."— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) May 2, 2019
He adds that Cheney was "extremely helpful" about the "legal parameters" of the VP office. Without irony.
Mondale then says his view of Cheney is "a little bit different." The crowd laughs pic.twitter.com/udjSlSCrZV
“The younger generation now tells me how tough things are, give me a break ... I have no empathy” - Joe Biden pic.twitter.com/UWswJDJLMI— Ibrahim (@IbrahimAS97) May 3, 2019
And here's Joe being Joe on foreign policy -- meaning, being routinely and disastrously wrong on vitally important issues:
Biden is skeptical of the threat of competition from China.— Stephen Gruber-Miller (@sgrubermiller) May 1, 2019
"China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man."
"They're not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They're not competition for us." #iacaucus
Over to you, Mitt.
Biden's national primary lead is also reflected in the early states. He's up ~20 points in IA & NH -- and is within shouting distance of an outright majority in SC: pic.twitter.com/u2nVAFEKNi— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 6, 2019