Joe Biden Quietly Piling Up Support

Joe Biden Mexico Talk AP

A new poll from CNN/ORC finds the national race between frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders essentially unchanged since last month. Both Clinton and Sanders have dropped slightly, but well within the margin of error. Vice President Joe Biden, however, has picked up almost 8 points in support, despite the fact that he isn’t yet a candidate.

Hillary Clinton currently has the support of 42 percent of Democrats nationwide, while socialist Bernie Sanders has 24 percent support. Each is down about 5 points from the CNN poll taken in mid-August. The main beneficiary seems to be Joe Biden, who has risen 8 points, from 14 percent in August to 22 percent support today.

That almost one-quarter of Democrats nationwide opt for a hypothetical candidate, who has only said he is considering a campaign, speaks volumes about how they view their current choices.

CNN broadcast their latest poll as good news for Clinton, proclaiming in its headline that Clinton had increased her lead over Sanders from a survey it conducted two weeks ago. That claim is true, if one ignores the margin of error contained in the poll. The changes in the head-to-head numbers of both Clinton and Sanders over the past two weeks are both within the margin of error. CNN’s headline could have said–no change in the race–and been equally true.

The overall state of the Democrat race remains where it was a month ago. Clinton leads Sanders, but by a relatively unimpressive amount. She is well below 50 percent nationally against the septuagenarian, even though she has 5 times the staff and has spent at least 6 times the amount. She may very well be the weakest frontrunner in the history of presidential primaries.

Just three months ago, Clinton had 58 percent support among Democrats and posted a 43-point lead over Sanders. Her drop in the polls occurred at exactly the time her large campaign organization and multi-million dollar ad buys should have sewn up the nomination.

The mind reels imagining where she would poll today if she didn’t have the benefits of a large stuff and enormous campaign war chest.

Meanwhile, Biden, whose Shakespearian struggles with making a firm decision have earned him barrels of media ink, has steadily risen in the polls. Today he is essentially tied with Bernie Sanders and within easy striking distance of Clinton.

On Monday, Politico unearthed the drama of the Clarence Thomas hearings from the early 1990s and suggested that, somehow, the memory of these will hurt Biden with women and minorities. The article doesn’t actually detail specifically anything Biden did during these hearings, except possibly failing to call some witnesses that would have vouched for lawyer Anita Hill, the central figure in the hearings.

The only relevant fact of the Politico story is its existence. That news organization is where Democrats and the left go to get a jump on their opponents. It was clearly meant as a warning shot across Biden’s bow, previewing what will likely be a very nasty primary battle.

The article is likely a response to a letter circulated publicly Friday from 50 major Democrat donors and fundraisers urging Biden to challenge Clinton in the primary. Since Labor Day, Biden has been expertly teasing a possible run, culminating with news this weekend that his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, would support a campaign.

There are myriad reasons why Bernie Sanders is not going to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. Her terrible poll numbers with Independents and her inability to close the deal on the nomination among even Democrats, though, has to terrify the more sober segments of the Democrat party.

Hillary may be incapable of locking up the Democrat nomination, even when confronted with an obvious weak challenger. Biden’s steady increase in support, even when he isn’t a candidate, may be the voters’ cue that its time to bring the Clinton campaign to its inevitable end.