Former Vice President Joe Biden made his long-expected entry into the 2020 presidential race Thursday. Biden announced his campaign via a launch video that sought to draw a sharp contrast with President Trump.
Biden brings to 20 the number of notable Democrats in the 2020 field. Prior to his announcement, he was the easily the most well-known name reported to be considering a run. While a few others have yet to make their plans known, the field is likely nearing completion, with the first debate* scheduled in just two months.
Biden, who represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 until he was sworn in as Barack Obama's Vice President in 2009, was quickly endorsed by Senators Chris Coons and Bob Casey. Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill put out a statement on behalf of the former president praising Biden, but offering no endorsement.
With almost universal name recognition, Biden has led most early polling. Now in the race, he will become the focus of attacks from the large field. He has recently had to address several accusations unwanted touching of women. Some may try and link this to his treatment of Anita Hill during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas. Going back a bit further, his first run at president in 1988 was quickly abandoned after charges of plagiarism. While his long track record exposes him, he can counter with the argument that he would be among the most experienced new presidents in American history.
* According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, 15 of the 20 Democrats have thus far qualified for the first two debates, each of which will be spread over two nights to accommodate the large field. Qualification is based on polling support and/or number of donors. The first debate will take place in Miami on June 26 and 27, broadcast by NBC and affiliated networks. The second debate will be on July 30 and 31 in Detroit, televised by CNN. The party will split candidates randomly across the two nights. This is a different approach - although not necessarily better - than that taken by the GOP with its large field in 2016. For the first debates that cycle, the field was split by polling performance, leading some to derisively refer to the second portion as the "kids' table".
A pledged delegate view has been added to the 2020 Democratic Primary map. This shows the number of pledged delegates each location will allocate in its 2020 primary or caucus. The total delegate view remains available, and includes 764 superdelegates. The distinction is important, as only pledged delegates will cast votes* in the first ballot at the nominating convention in Milwaukee next July.
It will take a majority of pledged delegates - at least 1,885 of 3,768 - to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot. If subsequent ballots are needed, 2,267 of 4,532 total delegates puts a candidate over 50%. All delegates become unpledged after the first ballot. Note that these 'magic numbers' will increase later this year as the party awards bonus pledged delegates to locations meeting certain criteria. We'll have a better idea on these once each location sets its contest date, but a rough estimate is that there will be 150-200 bonus delegates.
Here's the current breakdown by time period†:
The full 2020 Election Calendar is here. Some dates remain subject to change.
* Unless the nominee's pledged delegate total is >50% of the total delegates available (including superdelegates). In that case, the nominee is a foregone conclusion and all delegates will vote
†Wyoming caucuses will be in March. Unknown if will be Super Tuesday or another date, so included in TBA.
Bernie Sanders continues to lead all candidates in the latest Granite State Poll of Democrats for the New Hampshire Primary. The Senator from neighboring Vermont gets 30% support. Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are statistically tied in 2nd; The three-point margin for Biden is well within the margin of error. No other candidate received more than 5% support.
Buttigieg, who barely registered in the prior Granite State Poll seven weeks ago, saw his support rise to 15% in the latest survey. Sanders lead grew from 4% go 12% over Biden, as the two moved in opposite directions. Sanders gained 4 points, while Biden lost the same. The big loser was Sen. Kamala Harris, who fell from 10% to 4%.
For the two most well-known names, this poll is a bit at odds with one released a couple weeks back from St. Anselm College. That survey gave Biden a 23% to 16% lead over Sanders. The chart below shows those averaging over 3% in these two polls; select the image for full results.
On the GOP side, President Trump held a commanding 76% to 10% lead over John Kasich. A declared candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, received 5%.
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton said Monday that he is entering the 2020 presidential race. His announcement video highlighted his military service and the country's economic anxiety.
Moulton is the 20th notable candidate in the historically large 2020 Democratic field. The list includes fellow Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Eric Swalwell (CA-15), as well as Moulton's former House colleagues John Delaney and Beto O'Rourke. Of these, only O'Rourke has gotten significant traction to this point. The launch comes just days ahead of the expected entry of former vice-president Joe Biden.
Moulton has agitated for change throughout his short political career, rankling many colleagues. He used that messaging to defeat long-time Rep. John Tierney in the 2014 Democratic primary for the 6th district seat he now holds. More recently, he was one of the more outspoken members of a coalition pushing for an alternative to Nancy Pelosi serving a 2nd tenure as Speaker.
The biggest open question related to the 2020 Democratic field is likely to be answered next week. Former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce he is running for president.
This will be Biden's third try for the presidency. His 1988 run was over by the autumn of 1987, falling victim to a scandal around plagiarism. In 2008, he placed fifth in the Iowa caucuses and immediately withdrew from the race. He would go on to be Barack Obama's running mate that year, serving two terms as vice president. He passed on a 2016 run after delaying his decision by several months following the death of his son, Beau.
With near universal name recognition, Biden has led much of the early polling of the large Democratic field. However, some of that support has eroded in the most recent surveys. Some of this may be due to other candidates becoming more well known as Biden made up his mind. For example, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has seen a spike in his support in recent weeks. It may also be due to the accusations of inappropriate touching brought by several women.
According to this article in The Atlantic, "[Biden] sees a clear path down the middle of the party, especially with Bernie Sanders occupying a solid 20 percent of the progressive base, and most of the other candidates fighting for the rest. And the announcement comes at a moment when many in the party have become anxious about Sanders’s strength, with some beginning to wonder whether Biden might be the only sure counterweight to stop him from getting the nomination."
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday he will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. McAuliffe would have faced a long shot bid given his appeal overlaps with those likely to support Joe Biden. The former vice president may officially join the race as soon as next week.
19 candidates have thus far announced their intention to run for president. Decisions are pending by six more, the most notable of which is the aforementioned Biden. Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts is also likely to announce that he is running in the days ahead.
Here's the latest list of announced and prospective Democratic presidential candidates. it is sorted by the current national polling average. Keep in mind that polling at this point is largely driven by name recognition.
Former Massachusetts governor - and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee - Bill Weld will seek the 2020 Republican nomination. He becomes the first official challenger to President Trump.
Weld had previously announced he was exploring a challenge to the incumbent president. As we noted at the time, "the history of serious incumbent primary challenges in the modern era is not a good one - either for the challenger or the sitting president. A strong primary challenge highlights fractures in a party, and often weakens the incumbent in the general election. We saw this most recently in 1992, where George H.W. Bush fended off Pat Buchanan, but lost the general election to Bill Clinton. Interestingly, that situation is somewhat the mirror of today. Trump represents the now-ascendant populist wing of the party, while someone like Weld would potentially appeal to the type of GOP championed by the Bushes."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has also been considering entering the race. This article from fivethirtyeight discusses the difficult time he (or any challenger) would have against a president so popular with his own party.
Recap of some polls that were released this week.
Iowa: The state kicks off the 2020 vote with its caucus on February 3. A Monmouth University Poll showed former vice-president Joe Biden in front with 27%, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 16% and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9%.
New Hampshire: The nation's first primary is scheduled for February 11. A St. Anselm College poll also had Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg in the top three slots, with 23%, 16% and 11%, respectively. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of neighboring Massachusetts was at 9%.
South Carolina: The final early primary state will hold its contest on February 29, just three days before Super Tuesday. Change Research found Biden with 32% support, Sanders 14% and Sen. Kamala Harris in 3rd at 10%. Georgia's Stacey Abrams was included in this survey; she finished in 6th place with 7%.
In its latest weekly survey of registered Democrats nationwide, Morning Consult finds former vice-president Joe Biden with 32% support. This is 9 points over the 23% received by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. No other prospective nominee broke into double digits.
Biden's undeclared candidacy hit its first rough spot when former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores made the initial allegations of unwanted touching against him in an article published March 29. Several other women have subsequently come forward, with Biden's response thus far not seeming to diffuse the situation.
However, the controversy doesn't seem to have had a notable impact on Biden's standing among Democratic primary voters. In Morning Consult's March 26 survey - a few days before the story broke - Biden had 35% support. His current 32% is right in the middle of the 29-35% range he has received in each Morning Consult survey since early February.
The full results from this week's Morning Consult survey are below. We're tracking all the national polls here.
In the first poll we've seen for the Massachusetts Democratic Primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders has a small lead over former vice-president Joe Biden. Sanders, from neighboring Vermont, registered 26% support, while Biden got 23%. Home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren places third with 14%. Also breaking into double-digits, with 11%, is South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Massachusetts is one of a dozen states currently scheduled to hold its primary on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
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