People more politically astute than I am say that Joe Biden has little chance of winning the Democratic nomination. In their view, Biden is a paper tiger, sort of like Jeb Bush in 2016 and Rudy Giuliani in 2008. In short, he’s a dead man walking.
But Bush and Giuliani were not leading in the polls by this time in their unsuccessful presidential runs. By contrast, a new CNN poll shows Biden to be 15 points ahead nationally of Elizabeth Warren, his nearest rival.
That’s about the same margin he had early this year when many thought of him as a solid frontrunner. It’s more than double the margin by which he led Warren in CNN’s August poll of the race.
It’s not that Warren has lost backing. In the August poll, her support was at 18 percent. Now it’s at 19. But Biden’s number has jumped by 10 points, from 24 to 34.
Why has Biden lengthened his lead so significantly? I have no idea.
I didn’t see the most recent Democratic debate (I was at the ballpark), but none of the accounts I read viewed Biden as the winner of that event. Nor has Biden been setting the world on fire in any other context.
Maybe he’s viewed more sympathetically these days because Trump tried to sic Ukraine on him. But why would this sort of sympathy translate into support for the presidency?
Or maybe the CNN poll is an outlier. In fact, it is. However, Biden retains a reasonably healthy lead over Warren in several other recent national polls: The Hill/HarrisX (8 points), Emerson (6 points), Politico/Morning Consult (9 points), and Survey USA (10 points).
The Real Clear Politics average has Biden up by 6.6 points.
Biden has a long way to go to translate these margins into victories in key states and then into the nomination. I’m not saying he will make it. Still, his numbers aren’t bad for a dead man.