Joe Biden Surges While Hillary Clinton Stumbles

Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with a girl during the annual Allegheny County Labor Day Parade Monday September 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Biden has been subject of speculation about whether he will run for the U.S. presidency. (Photo by
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

A new national poll from Monmouth University finds support for Hillary Clinton dropping and Vice-President Joe Biden surging, even though he is not yet a candidate.

Hillary is supported by just 42 percent of Democrats, while Biden earns 22 and Sen. Bernie Sanders nabs 20 percent. More worrisome for Hillary, 63 percent of Democrats now either back Biden or would seriously consider supporting him if he ran for the nomination.

“For a guy who is not running for president, Biden sure is making headway against the frontrunner,” Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University Polling Institute, said. “There also seems to be an opening with the more liberal Sanders voters if Biden plays his cards right.”

Biden spent Labor Day at a rally with Richard Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO labor union confederation. Trumpka, who obviously carries a big stick in Democrat primaries, praised Biden and criticized Hillary Clinton for failing to “energize workers.”

The growing interest in a possible Biden candidacy is understandable, given the steady drop in support for presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton. She has dropped 18 points since the first Monmouth poll of the Democrat nomination in early April.

That drop in support has occurred almost in a political vacuum, with no campaigning against her. Her clearest challenger today, Sanders, has refused to criticize Hillary on the campaign trail. Her campaign has dominated political advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Her favorables among Democrats are still high. In the Monmouth poll released Tuesday, 71 percent of Democrats have a positive opinion of her, against just 17 percent with a negative view. This is down considerably from a December Monmouth poll, when 82 percent of Democrats viewed her favorably and just 11 percent unfavorably.

Biden, meanwhile, has had a complete rebirth in the eyes of Democrats. In December, their impression of him was mixed; 46 percent had a favorable opinion, but 32 percent had a negative opinion. Today, Biden is viewed favorably by 71 percent of Democrats with just 9 percent unfavorable.

That shift represents a +48 point move in Biden’s favorables. It is not a coincidence that his rising popularity is occurring while Hillary’s campaign is stumbling.

Hillary’s level of support at 42 percent is even more troubling for her campaign because her personal favorabilities are still relatively high. She has had a 17-point shift to the negative, but is still popular with more than two-thirds of Democrats. Yet, almost half of the Democrats who have a positive view of her are supporting someone else in the primary.

That is unsustainable. At some point, those two numbers have to fall closer in line. With the daily revelations about the depths of her email troubles, it is far more likely that her favorable numbers will reset rather than her support levels. Hillary has long passed the high-water mark of her campaign.