If the first Democratic Party caucuses and primaries were held today, polling indicates that former Vice President Joe Biden would be the party’s nominee to take on President Donald Trump.
In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, Biden leads the 2020 field with the support of 29 percent of Democrats, far ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had 19 percent. Following Sanders was former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who despite losing to Republican Senator Ted Cruz in last year’s Texas Senate race, is now making a presidential bid. He had 12 percent.
Despite all the media hype about female and African-American candidates, it is interesting to note that the top three candidates right now are all white males, with two of them well into their 70s. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is a black woman, but she could only get eight percent in the poll, putting her in fourth place. Another white male, Mayor Peter Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has four percent in the poll, enabling him to tie Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for fifth place.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,358 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.
Much of the lead enjoyed by Biden — and Sanders and O’Rourke — for that matter, can be chalked up to simple name recognition. This is not to downplay name recognition, because there is no question that Donald Trump’s role in his TV show, The Apprentice, helped him tremendously early in his campaign. Name recognition clearly helped Richard Nixon in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1980, and Hillary Clinton in 2016. After 36 years in the Senate, and an additional eight years as vice president under President Barack Obama has made Biden’s a household name, and such familiarity can only help, as it already has.
The question, of course, is does Biden have what it takes to use that foundation of name recognition to actually win caucuses and primaries, and ultimately, the Democratic nomination? Past performance indicates that he does not. He has run for president twice before, in 1988 and again in 2008, and he did not do well.
First of all, front-runners become targets of the campaigns of candidates who want to beat them. In a long, drawn-out primary campaign process, Biden will no doubt be taken to task within the Democratic Party for his perceived support for corporate interests. (Delaware is the home to many corporations because of its rather generous incorporation polices.)
Biden is already 76 years old, leaving him open to questions as to whether a man nearing his 80th birthday by the time of the election should be entrusted with the strenuous job of president.
But Biden is not the only White in the race. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a white woman with Native American heritage, makes a good democratic vice-president for Biden.
In the end, it is hard to see how either Warren or Biden will wind up heading the Democrat ticket next year. But stranger things have happened. After all, who could have predicted a little-known governor of Georgia (Jimmy Carter) getting the nod in 1976, or another little-known governor of Arkansas winning the nomination in 1992? Biden-Warren will be the Democratic nominees in 2020, and they can expect the overwhelming support of the mainstream media, academia, and the popular culture.