From time to time this campaign season, we’ve heard how one candidate or another is going to break through and win the Democratic nomination. For a while, Elizabeth Warren looked like she was going to rise above the pack, and Pete Buttigieg had some momentum for a couple of days. And then remember how Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick were going to shake up the race?
But, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to the Democrats. A new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll gives us the latest insight into the state of play on the Democratic side, and the frontrunners are – surprise, surprise – Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
Biden leads with 24%, followed closely by Sanders at 22%. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is third with 17%, followed by South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 13%, all together making up a clear top tier of four candidates.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is fifth with 5%; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker all pull in 4%.
Clustered together with just 1% support are former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, billionaire Tom Steyer, spiritualist and author Marianne Williamson and former Rep. John Delaney all get less than 1%.
The most telling bit of information in the poll is that a whopping three-fourths of those surveyed say they could change their minds before the primaries.
I see two takeaways from the findings in this poll. The first is that, at least theoretically, it’s anybody’s race to win. The willingness of so many Democrats to allow another candidate to sway them is telling of the fact that not many people are fiercely loyal or even excited about this crop of candidates.
The other lesson from this poll is that plenty of Democrats are going for the old familiar comfort of Biden and Sanders. No matter how many supposed “shake ups” we see in this race, it always comes down to Biden and Sanders.
Sure, the fluidity of voters could lead to someone different rising to the top, but I don’t see that happening. We may be looking at a two-man race before the primaries get too far underway. That could bode well for Trump and the GOP, since the president knows how to go after familiar foes.