When Kamala Harris went after Joe Biden at Thursday night’s debate on his opposition to busing and his willingness to work with segregationist Democrats in the past, everyone knew he’d been wounded. Just how much remained to be seen. On Friday, a Morning Consult/FiveThirtyEight poll of likely Democratic voters told us just how badly Biden was hurt.
According to a Morning Consult/FiveThirtyEight poll of likely Democratic voters released on Friday, 41.5 percent said before the debates they would vote for Biden tomorrow, but 31.5 percent said the same thing after Thursday night’s debate.
The apparent decline in support comes after Biden was widely seen as having faltered, including engaging in a stark exchange with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) over school busing.
Harris herself got a nearly 9 point bump, with 16.6 percent of Democrats saying they would support her after the debate, up from 7.9 percent before the events.
Other 2020 candidates had marginal increases or decreases.
Is it over for Biden? Not necessarily. According to FiveThirtyEight, “while Biden lost some supporters, his overwhelmingly positive favorability ratings didn’t really change, suggesting that he can still recover even if he hurt his cause on Thursday night.” While this is true, it shows that Biden’s debate performances are key to his ability to maintain his lead. As the frontrunner, Biden was always the most susceptible to seeing his poll numbers slip. And now candidates with less name recognition than the former vice president will see going on offense on the frontrunner as vital to their ability to stand out amongst the crowded field of 2020 Democrat presidential hopefuls.
Matt Margolis is the author of the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published on July 30, 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis