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Polls: Biden Dips Overall, But Makes Gains Among Black Voters, After Shaky Debate Performance

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Welcome to July.  The Democratic National Convention is right around the corner in just...54 weeks.  Following his -- shall we say -- less than inspiring debate performance on Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden's frontrunner has slipped a bit, according to a new Politico poll.  I'd call these results preliminary for now, as we wait for more data from other pollsters, but the results suggest that Biden remains a clear frontrunner, despite an unsurprising surge from Kamala Harris.  His position is less dominant, but this doesn't look at all like a collapse:

Last week’s Democratic presidential debates provided the first real chance for many of the candidates to shake up the race, and it’s Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) who seized the moment. Twelve percent of Democratic primary voters said Harris was their first choice for president in the latest Morning Consult survey, which collected 2,407 responses from the moment Thursday’s debate ended at 11 p.m. through all of Friday. It’s an increase of 6 percentage points from the June 17-23 poll, doubling the senator’s vote share. That vaults her past South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana and into a third-place tie with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts...The survey indicates that Harris’ big night in Miami came largely at the expense of the race’s front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden...Biden’s support dropped by 5 points, although he remained the first choice for 33 percent of Democratic primary voters.

Notice Bernie Sanders' flat line, which indicates that the Vermont Socialist has done nothing to move the needle over the last month. The good news for him is that he's got a steady base of support that's good enough for second place. The bad news is that he is, and could very conceivably remain, stagnant. His schtick is well-known at this point.  Meanwhile, here's a data point that could bode well for Biden:


If other contenders are going to dislodge Biden from the driver's seat, they'll need to cut significantly into his advantage with black voters, who remember him fondly as President Obama's two-time running mate.  Because so many candidates in the 2020 are effectively campaigning on the premise that Obama was too tepid, Biden is in a position to be an aggressive defender of the Obama legacy.  In the eyes of many primary voters, that amounts to a distinct advantage.  Kamala Harris' obviously premeditated attacks on Biden over racial issues seemed to be aimed squarely at eroding the former VP's support among African Americans.  Again, the Democracy Corps data cited above is still preliminary, but it looks quite possible that Harris made a splash but didn't advance the ball toward her apparent goal.  Over at HotAir, Allahpundit marvels at the media's sudden interest in Uncle Joe's 1970's record on mandatory busing as a means of integrating schools: 

The deeper question is why Biden’s record on busing and other racial issues, like the crime bill, weren’t “problematic” to the media when he was nominated for vice president in 2008...I think the most charitable explanation for this oversight is simple laziness. They didn’t give Biden the kid-gloves treatment in 2008 because they were in the tank and determined not to make trouble for a historic Democratic nominee, one might say. They gave him the kid-gloves treatment because they don’t do much investigating themselves, even of their own archives. Even this year, it may be the case that most of the media reports about Biden’s history with busing have been spoonfed to them by rival campaigns like Sanders’s or Harris’s.


I'm not sure attributing this disconnect to laziness, perhaps with a whiff of partisan bias, is particularly "charitable," but it's likely the correct explanation.  He also points out that Biden's stance was actually very, very mainstream.  Indeed, in the early 1970's, only a tiny fraction of voters -- including black voters -- believed busing was an appropriate antidote to segregation:

A Gallup poll taken in 1973, back when Biden was in full anti-busing swing, found that just five percent thought busing was the best way to achieve integration, including a mere nine percent of blacks. I think the partisan split would be *somewhat* more balanced today since the subject of busing is now largely academic and hyper-partisanship has encouraged people to support whatever it is that the other party opposes. But unquestionably, Biden’s position is still the position of a heavy majority. 

I'll leave you with a reminder of the radical policies Kamala locked herself into on Thursday night.  And I'd love to hear her policy proposal and explanation on this:

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