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After Rough Week, Biden Still Tops Democrat Polls

The former vice president also bests Donald Trump into head-to-head polling.

Joe Biden is an official candidate yet, but he was the target of a series of attacks from women who accused him of unwanted touching last week. Despite the #MeToo onslaught and the fact that he isn’t officially running, Biden is still the Democratic frontrunner.

Two new polls show that the former vice president still maintains a commanding lead over Vermont Democrat-in-name-only Bernie Sanders. The most recent poll, by The Hill and HarrisX, was taken on April 5 and 6 after the accusations against Biden had become public knowledge. Among voters who identify as Democrats, the Delaware Democrat won the support of 36 percent. Sanders, the second-place finisher, had 19 percent. No other candidates had more than 10 percent support.

A second poll, by Morning Consult, was taken over the period from April 1 through 7. As the poll began, the Biden scandal was just erupting, which may have resulted in some respondents changing their minds. In this poll, Biden still had the support of 32 percent of Democrats with Sanders trailing at 23 percent. Again, the two old white men were the only candidates with support above 10 percent. This was virtually unchanged from polls taken before the accusations.  

Biden’s resilience in the polls may be due to the fact that Biden’s touchy-feely nature was an open secret. While not discussed by the Democrats of the #MeToo era until recently, the former vice president’s tendency to get close to women had been the subject of ridicule from the right for years.

“Everybody knows Joe Biden. None of this is anything new,” Sam Lieberman, former chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party told Politico. “I don’t think it’s sexual harassment. I don’t think it’s anything except for who he is and who he’s been for years.”

Indeed, so far no one has accused Biden of anything more than creepy and annoying behavior. In contrast with Donald Trump, who was accused by 23 women of sexual misconduct, none of Biden’s accusers have accused him of sexual impropriety or illegal behavior. Despite claims to the contrary, Trump’s accusers have not gone away since the election. Trump is currently the defendant in at least two lawsuits involving the mistreatment of women. In one ongoing suit, Summer Zervos, says that Trump defamed her when he denied her accusation of sexual harassment. In another lawsuit filed in February, Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer, claims that Trump sexually assaulted her during the 2016 campaign.

At this point, it appears that the Democratic primary is evolving into a two-man race between Biden and Sanders. The top two candidates likely benefit from name recognition from their previous campaigns while the other candidates are all newcomers to the national stage.

It is likely that the other candidates will begin to drop out as they fail to gain traction and run short of funds. The narrowing of the field will likely benefit Biden as well. The Morning Consult poll found that Biden was the preferred second choice of Harris and O’Rourke supporters, who ranked third and fourth in both polls. Sanders was the second pick of the few Democrats who support Elizabeth Warren.

After having survived his first scandal, Joe Biden now must come to a decision on whether to formally enter the race. If he intends to run then he will need to make a formal announcement and set up an organization to start collecting donations. It is a virtual certainty that Biden will run.

For Democrats who place a high value on defeating Trump, Biden is likely to be the candidate of choice. Recent polling has Biden beating Trump by an average of almost nine points. Sanders also bests Trump in current polling but by a smaller margin. Biden is a known quantity while Sanders is likely to be a treasure trove of embarrassing videos and soundbites.

The attacks on Biden, which have been linked to the Sanders campaign, so far do not seem to have derailed his chances at winning the nomination and becoming the Democratic standard-bearer after several failed attempts. Biden’s standing in the polls may indicate that a large share of Democrats prefers a more moderate and safer candidate over the radical leftists that comprise much of the rest of the field.

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