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Biden continues to lead the pack

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Williamsburg High School, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Williamsburg, Iowa. (Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Williamsburg High School, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019 in Williamsburg, Iowa. (Kelsey Kremer/The Des Moines Register via AP)

The new year dawns with former Vice President Joe Biden in a place where just a few months ago some pundits weren’t convinced he’d be — still very much in the mix for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Shortly after Biden entered the race in late April, national polls showed him with the support of 41% of Democratic primary voters. In short order that had fallen to 32% — a good showing given the large field of candidates.

Today, the Real Clear Politics polling averages have Biden’s support at 28.3% nationally, with Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19.1%. Third is Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 15.1%, then Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 8.3%.

This is telling because those other candidates have surged at times and seemingly knocked Biden aside. But he’s not gone anywhere.

In late August, the RCP polling averages had Biden at 32% support while Warren had climbed to 17.1% and Sanders was at 16.5%. By early October, following a sluggish fund-raising quarter for Biden, the former VP was at 26.3% nationally and Warren was at 26%.

In mid-October, the RCP betting averages gave Warren slightly better than a 50% chance to win the nomination — no Democratic candidate has approached that level. A few weeks later, Warren laid out her Medicare for All plan, which was roundly criticized by analysts of all stripes because the costs were undersold by about $10 trillion over a decade. Today Warren is given an 17.7% chance by RCP to win the nomination.

Biden’s odds are listed at 33.4%. Sanders’ are 22.2%.

In Iowa, whose caucus is Feb. 3, Buttigieg leads the Democratic field with 22% support, followed by Sanders (20) and Biden (18.0). Biden also trails Sanders and Buttigieg in New Hampshire, whose primary is eight days after Iowa kicks things off.

However, Biden enjoys a 9-point margin over Warren in Nevada, and in South Carolina, Biden’s advantage is a whopping 19 points over Warren, according to RCP. A recent online poll sponsored by FairVote and conducted by YouGov gave Biden double-digit support over Sanders in South Carolina, where blacks comprise 60% of the state’s Democratic voters.

Biden has been critical of Warren’s and Sanders’ plans for a single-payer system, saying instead that as president he would build on the Affordable Care Act that he helped get through Congress as Barack Obama’s vice president.

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found blacks support a single-payer health care plan more than other groups. However, as The Wall Street Journal noted in a recent story, they also support a Medicare buy-in such as the public insurance option Biden has offered.

Biden enjoys support among black voters that others in the field have not been able to replicate. That should help him weather potential disappointment in Iowa and New Hampshire. What also should help him is Biden’s unwillingness to join Sanders and Warren in the extreme left lane on policy. That’s no doubt welcomed by Democratic voters interested first and foremost in beating Donald Trump.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›

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