The single most important question about the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is whether or not Joe Biden can be knocked out of the frontrunner’s position.
- Will he follow the path of establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012 and win the nomination despite active opposition from the party’s base? (both eventually lost the general election).
- Or will he be more like Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton in 2008, pre-season frontrunners whose lead vanished as soon as the voting started?
In terms of the Democratic primary competition, it is hard to overstate the significance of a Biden stumble. Our daily tracking poll shows consistently that over 40% of potential Democratic voters are either Biden supporters or undecided. If the former Vice President cannot hang on to his lead, all of those votes are potentially up for grabs. With so many uncommitted voters and so many other candidates in the race, it’s impossible to predict today where those votes would go.
If Biden hangs on to win the nomination, the big question will be how will the more progressive base voters react? Biden draws his support primarily from older voters who are already the most likely to vote. Will younger voters who preferred someone else come out to vote next November?
If another candidate defeats Biden, the question will then be whether or not the candidate can appeal to swing voters in competitive states? We know that a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren candidacy would excite voters in California, but how will voters in the midwest react?