A new national poll of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents confirms Joe Biden maintains a comfortable 19-point lead over Bernie Sanders and the rest of the polyglot posse seeking the party’s presidential nomination next year.
But even more interesting at this early stage is that the new Hill-HarrisX Poll out Wednesday also confirms several other recent surveys that found Democrats are much more interested in ousting President Donald Trump than finding a candidate that matches their ideological leaning.
If this continues, it’s good news for Biden whose record over a near half-century is consistently liberal, but also contains some stances like fighting crime and a tendency to bipartisanship at times, traits now viewed as absolute apostasies in his party’s current climate.
This could help Biden skip through the political minefield of having to profess ultra-liberal positions now and then try to live them down in a general election contest against Trump.
While liberal, if Biden’s position is more centrist than the rest of the pack, with such polls he can argue he’s more electable, even during the ideological purity contests that primaries often become.
Biden, for example, was overwhelmingly favored by respondents classifying themselves as “moderate” in ideology with a significant 43 percent backing him. No other candidate received double-digit support from this group
The 76-year-old Biden has been more disciplined so far on the campaign trail, avoiding gaffes while stressing his long political record as a liberal, though progressive is the word of choice for those folks these days.
Most of the other 22 announced candidates are crowded on the far left side of the party’s political spectrum, stressing their commitments to higher taxes, more freebies, Medicare for all and reparations for slavery.
The new survey was conducted online from May 17-18 among 1,030 registered voters with a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. It found Biden was the preferred pick of 33 percent of respondents, followed by Sanders at 14 percent.
No other candidate earned in double digits. Elizabeth Warren had eight percent, Pete Buttiegieg and Kamala Harris tied at six percent. Robert Francis O’Rourke fell to five percent.
None of the others captured more than one percent, while a sizable number including John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee and Steve Bullock were not named by anyone.
Biden is more popular among women than men (39 to 25). Among those 34 or younger, Sanders was the favorite with 24 percent while Joe took 13 percent and Warren got 11 percent.
While still trailing, Warren has gained in the most recent poll. Interestingly, her new support came not from Biden, but from Sanders supporters.
An unusually large number (19 percent) claim to be undecided.
One ominous historical note for Joe: No one leading in the polls at this stage in modern primary contests has gone on to capture their party’s nomination. Ask Presidents Howard Dean or Newt Gingrich.