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Biden Solidifies Lead As Sanders Fades

If the trend continues, Democratic primary may be a foregone conclusion before the first votes are cast.

Many conservative observers predicted that Joe Biden would be a flash in the pan. Several prominent pundits said that Biden’s first day on the campaign trail would be his best, followed by a quick downhill slide as the radical leftist Democrats tossed the old white moderate aside for younger, more progressive candidates without 50 years of baggage. Those predictions were wrong. Not one but two new polls show Biden surging ahead of his closest competitors.

On Saturday, a Harvard-Harris poll found that Biden had the support of the 34 percent of Democrats while another poll released on Monday by Hill-HarrisX gave Biden 46 percent support. While there is a considerable difference in Biden’s support in the two polls, both are well above his pre-announcement support levels which were typically in the high 20s to low 30s.

Another three polls released on April 30, five days after Biden’s formal campaign announcement, also showed that Biden received a boost after rolling out his official presidential campaign. CNN found Biden with 39 percent support, Quinnipiac had him at 38 percent, and Morning Consult showed 36 percent.

While the exact amount of support that Joe Biden commands is uncertain, it is a certainty that he has gained since announcing his candidacy despite accusations of improper touching and complaints from Democratic activists that he is not progressive enough. Biden seems to have tapped into a heretofore ignored moderate demographic within the Democratic Party.

Equally certain is that Biden’s gains have been at the expense of Bernie Sanders. The two most recent polls show Sanders at 14 percent, down from an average of about 20 percent in pre-announcement polling. At this point, it appears that Sanders was the second choice of a segment of voters who preferred Biden but were waiting on him to enter the race.

The polling indicating that Biden’s lead is solidifying has several possible explanations. The most obvious is that there are more moderate Democrats than has been generally assumed. Biden’s core support has typically been among blue-collar union Democrats, a niche to which no other Democratic candidate has appealed. This moderate Democrat demographic may be bolstered by Trump Democrats returning after crossing the aisle in 2016 and disaffected Republican moderates who are planning to vote against Trump Republicans as they did in 2018. A second possibility is that Democrats are choosing to forgo ideological purity for the candidate best positioned to defeat Donald Trump. Finally, as I have suggested in the past, the large number of leftist candidates may be splitting the radical Democrat vote and leaving Biden with a plurality. This scenario is similar to how Donald Trump won the 2016 Republican primary.

Being the frontrunner more than six months before the first primary doesn’t guarantee that Joe Biden will be Democratic nominee, but the former vice president remains the candidate to beat, just as he has since the earliest Democratic primary polling. With Sanders already fading and no other serious challengers in sight, the Democratic primary may be a foregone conclusion before the first votes are cast.

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