Is former Hillary Clinton on the upswing against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the battle for the 2016 Democratic Party Presidential nomination? A new poll finds that she has widened her lead over Sanders, and not just by a point — and that she’d do even better if Vice President Joe Biden’s name wasn’t added to the list. Biden has not announced and today said about a run for the White House. “I may not get there.” . (Another report is downright silly, claiming Barack Obama is ready to endorse Biden IF Biden picks and African American as Vice President. Expect to hear THAT all day from Rush, Sean, Fox and Friends and be blared on some blogs.). The CNN poll:
Hillary Clinton’s lead in the Democratic presidential primary race has grown — and if Vice President Joe Biden decides to stay out of the race, her numbers would rise even higher, a new CNN/ORC poll shows.
Clinton is backed by 42% of Democratic primary voters nationally, compared to 24% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 22% for Biden and 1% for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
That’s a marked improvement over an early September CNN/ORC poll that found Clinton leading Sanders, 37% to 27%, with Biden at 20%.
The poll finds that Biden’s support comes from Clinton’s. This could perhaps explain why Biden has not yet jumped in. For Democrats (and many independents and even some Republicans) the continued far rightward swerve of the Republican Party’s presidential offerings could be leading to a conclusion that Democrats must have a strong candidate in 206 given what is at stake for Democrats (for instance, one tiny thing called Supreme Court appointments).
And Biden’s support comes almost entirely from Clinton’s camp. Without the vice president in the race, Clinton’s numbers climb by 15 percentage points, while Sanders’ increase by only 4 points — giving Clinton a nearly 2-to-1 lead at 57% to 28%, with O’Malley moving up to 2%.
While Clinton has led national polls, she has been found trailing in New Hampshire and at times in Iowa — two key early voting states. And her downward trend nationally — amid questions about her use of a private email server during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state — has fueled speculation of a late Biden entry, and provided the vice president with an opening even as he grieves the death of his son Beau Biden.
And as I’ve said in many stories about polls:
Brace yourself for posts and stories and comments from those who don’t like reports about the poll having bad methodology. As just as regular as your taxes being due in April when partisans in both parties don’t like a poll they try and discredit if by talking about methodology. If they like a poll, they tout its results.
The true key will now be what picture emerges in a variety of polls about Clinton. One poll does not a trend make, but CNN polls are considered highly reliable. And this poll is not a complete surprise. In recent weeks Clinton has toughened her rhetoric against Republicans, loosened up in her speaking style (telegraphed by her campaign as an effort to make her look more spontaneous), and appeared on television shows that have high demographic ratings among women and young people. Clips of those shows, showing Hillary Clinton at her best, humorous and not delivering a speech, have been shown on many media platforms.
The bottom line: if Biden jumps in, she will face more of a battle and the party could face some bigger divisions. If Biden stays out, the battle will be more low key and she’ll have an easier time getting the nomination. The question will then be if some Democrats repeat their historical penchant for staying home and teaching their party a lesson, which brought those Democrats and their party a lesson in seeing how Republicans used their power to undue the party’s New Deal, New Frontier influence on the Supreme Court and also use that power to help the push for more GOP victories in states, which also helped Republicans in gerrymandering.
If these numbers hold, then we may be seeing the beginning of the point at which Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential bid loses the momentum it has had since he entered the race in June. In that three month period, we have seen Sanders gain strength against Clinton first in New Hampshire, which at the time many observers dismissed as at least in part due to the fact that he has been a prominent figure in neighboring Vermont for decades, and later in Iowa and in the national polls. To some degree, Sanders rise has been due to the fact that the themes that he’s been running on are ones that resonate with a substantial part of the Democrat Party. In addition, though, it seems clear that Clinton’s troubles have largely been of her own making due to her campaign’s hamfisted response to questions regarding her use of a private email server as well as the fact that Clinton’s own campaign has not been running nearly as smoothly as many expected it to be. Now, though, we appear to be entering the time when Sanders is being viewed as something more than a curiosity, and at least some Democrats that have been supporting him seem to be recognizing that he would not be a viable nominee in 2016.
The most interesting thing about this poll, though, isn’t so much Clinton’s apparent bounce-back as it is the fact that Vice-President Biden has essentially drawn even with Sanders even though he currently isn’t a candidate. In previous polling both nationally and at the state level, Biden was polling below Sanders, but at the still somewhat respectable level of ~10-15%. Now, we’ve got polling showing the Vice-President essentially tied with Sanders and, as we’ve seen before, hurting Clinton much more than he would hurt Sanders if he did get into the race. What this means for the possibility of Biden actually getting into the race is anyone’s guess, though. As I noted this past weekend, Biden has given signals in both directions recently, and just yesterday his aides made clear that his wife was behind jumping into the race if that’s what he chooses to do. Whether these latest poll numbers will cause the Vice-President to jump into the race is something only time will tell, but the time for him to make a decision is running out.
The New York Times emphasizes the negative this morning, with polling showing a negative favorability rating in New York, which she once represented as a senator. This is among all voters, not Democratic voters.
CNN polling, on another hand, shows her with a growing lead over Bernie Sanders. (Surprising isn’t it? A scan of headlines and evening cable talk might lead you to believe Sanders’ strength in nearly meaningless Iowa and New Hampshire was a sign of Clinton’s implosion in the Democratic primary race.) Ask President Tsongas about the value of a primary win in New Hampshire.
PS — Fixate on HIllary Clinton’s personal e-mail and use of a private server if you will. But you might also want to look at the Bush administration policies on gathering of e-mail data from U.S. citizens. New disclosures today on the surveillance program.
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) September 21, 2015
Clinton's lead in Democratic race grows, CNN/ORC poll shows. If Biden stays out of race, her numbers would rise more. http://t.co/3SO5rPyuG2
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) September 21, 2015
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 21, 2015
Photo: by Hillary for Iowa [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.