I’m old enough to remember the heady days when Joe Biden was polling somewhere north of 40% and the only other person that could even crawl into the teens was Bernie Sanders. But that was literally weeks ago. The latest Economist/YouGov poll just came out and it’s difficult to say if we actually have a frontrunner among the Democrats. Biden has dropped to 22 percent and Elizabeth Warren is only five points behind him, barely outside the margin of error. And what happened to Bernie Sanders? He’s fallen back to eleven percent, in danger of hitting single digits. (The Hill)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is hanging on to the top spot in the Democratic primary field, leading his nearest rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) by 5 points, according to an Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday.

Biden notched 22 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters in the poll, while Warren finished in second place with 17 percent. In third was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who took 14 percent support in the survey.

Rounding out the top five candidates were Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 11 percent and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who received 5 percent of the vote.

It’s beginning to look like the Pete Buttigieg boomlet has gone bust. He was the flavor of the week for quite a while there, but his opponents have been tagging him on his handling of the police shooting in South Bend last month, as well as suggesting that he’s insufficiently woke in terms of racism. In any event, his numbers are heading in the wrong direction.

Getting back to the headline, how did Joe Biden slip so far so fast? I suppose we’ll have to credit that at least partially to the first debates and the way Kamala Harris somehow dragged him into a debate on busing (!?!) decades after the last time anyone was talking about it. The pile-on by the media was relentless and it appears that enough people are paying attention to cause him some damage.

Do we really think this could happen to Biden for the third time? Granted, his first presidential bid was kind of a long shot. The second run just hit some unfortunate timing because he ran smack into the teeth of the Hope and Change moment. But this time seemed like it just had to be different. Biden came out of the gates looking as if the primary was only a formality. He had not only the highest name recognition but the best approval ratings and a gold plated resume. And yet somehow Kamala Harris has dragged him into a mud fight. Oddly enough, it hasn’t helped her as much as Elizabeth Warren, though. Those Dem primary voters are a fickle lot this year, or so it seems.

Let’s not start writing Biden’s political obituary just yet, though. He’s still in the lead outside the margins and he has at least a couple more debates to do some damage control. But he clearly can’t take anything for granted anymore and float above the fray. If Biden really wants this, he’s going to have to earn it.