Poll: Overwhelming majority think Biden's handsiness isn't a serious issue

This is a poll of California, not a national poll, but it’s the biggest U.S. state by population and will play a crucial role next year given how early Californians go to vote. So if Cali thinks Biden’s hair-sniffing is no big deal, that’s noteworthy.

Of course, California is also home to the entertainment industry. It’s possible, I suppose, that the state’s disproportionate number of degenerates are skewing the results in favor of an old man creeping on women.

More seriously, the very friendly phrasing of this question might be giving respondents a nudge to side with Biden on the issue.

Note that two of the groups claiming to be most disturbed by Biden are Republicans, his ideological enemies in the general election, and young adults, his ideological enemies in the primary given that young voters skew towards Bernie Sanders. (Of course, young adults might also be more open to #MeToo complaints on the merits than older generations.) In other words, it may be that the share of Californians who genuinely consider Biden’s behavior a “serious” problem is far lower than these numbers suggest but is being elevated by political foes looking to damage him.

Although whether that’s good or bad news for him is unclear. If it’s true that Dem voters are treating this issue opportunistically, we might expect more of them to say they’re troubled by his behavior once he gets into the race and starts beating their favored candidates. If/when more women come forward with their own stories about the time Uncle Joe gave them the bad touch, that’ll naturally affect opinion too.

There is some unambiguously good news for him in this poll, though, with potential consequences for the primary. He leads the field in California, which is supposed to be Kamala Harris country, with 26 percent of the vote. (Harris is third with 17 percent, a point behind Bernie Sanders.) That’s not the best news for him, though. Nate Silver identified that:

Only two candidates scored better on the electability question than they did on the baseline question of whom the party should nominate. One was Beto, who improved only very slightly. The other was Biden, who was nine points better on electability than he was on presidential preference. Electability is verrrrrrry important to Democratic voters this cycle. If primary voters come to widely perceive Biden as the candidate with the best shot of beating Trump, that’s going to swing a lot of undecided voters in his favor and make him the second choice of many others who prefer someone else.

Silver sees an additional point, though. The fact that Harris, Warren, and Buttigieg all declined by multiple points from their numbers on presidential preference to their numbers on who’s best positioned to beat Trump suggests that Dem voters have some real misgivings about nominating a minority candidate — black, woman, gay, or any or all of the above — to do battle with Trump nationally. In fact, as a gloss on Buttigieg’s rise in the polls, Quinnipiac asked people for this survey whether they thought America was ready to elect a gay president or not. Result: 39/48, with even Democrats almost evenly split at 49/43. Michael Avenatti’s controversial belief that Dems will need to nominate a white male (he probably assumed a straight white male) to have a real shot against Trump seems to be shared by many members of his party. Bad news for Harris and Buttigieg, especially as the field narrows and people start considering electability more.

I’ll leave you with this new data from YouGov. It’s not like Uncle Joe doesn’t have his own biographical liabilities.