News & Politics

Biden Surges to Largest Lead in Polls Since April in CNN National Survey

Biden Surges to Largest Lead in Polls Since April in CNN National Survey
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Dartmouth College, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, in Hanover, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Despite a surge by Elizabeth Warren in Iowa and New Hampshire, a new national poll conducted by CNN shows former Vice President Joe Biden widening his lead over Warren and Bernie Sanders to 15 points.

The poll shows Biden with 34 percent support while Warren and Sanders get 19 and 16 percent support respectively. The rest of the field is in single digits.

Biden remains the frontrunner despite a miserable month where he was brutally attacked by the other candidates and endured pointed scrutiny for his role in getting a Ukraine prosecutor looking into his son’s business dealings fired.


Biden’s standing in Wednesday’s survey marks his most significant edge in CNN’s primary polling since he announced his campaign in late April and dominated the Democratic field with 39 percent support.

His advantage in the latest CNN poll, conducted in the days following the fourth Democratic debate last week, also comes despite a plurality of respondents judging that Warren outperformed Biden during the televised forum.

Among those who watched or paid close attention to news coverage of the Ohio debate, 28 percent said Warren “did the best job,” and only 15 percent said Biden’s showing was superior.

Democrats’ hearts may be with Warren and Sanders but they’ll vote for an aging, confused former vice president because, quite simply, they believe he can win. Indeed, of all the candidates, Biden polls best in the crucial Midwestern battleground states. Plus, he attracts many of the “lost Democrats” — rural and small-town Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016. The Democratic candidate may pile up huge majorities in the coastal states, but they need the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania voters back in the fold or they are likely to lose again.

But does Biden really offer them that hope? Much is being made of “moderate” Democrats, but it’s not at all clear that those less-than-loony voters are numerous enough and assertive enough to beat the crazies.

One writer thinks that political analysts have read too much into Democratic voters’ desire for a “moderate” candidate.


So what are the pundits missing? And why do they keep trying to make moderates happen?

The answer has two parts. First, many pundits have incorrectly convinced themselves that Democratic voters harbor a secret passion for a moderate nominee—let’s call it the Hidden Moderates Theory. Second, many are missing that the real distinction in the race is between candidates who are comfortable with wealth and its influence on politics, and those who are not. Those who oppose the influence of wealth on politics are much closer to both public opinion and the American historical mainstream.

In most of the presidential elections since President Jimmy Carter won in 1976, Democrats picked candidates they deemed moderate and electable over more progressive alternatives. Most of them—Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton—lost.

A Massachusetts governor, a Massachusetts Senator, and a crook are Democratic “moderates”? Sheesh.

In truth, the problem is that most Democratic voters identify themselves as “moderate” despite holding extreme views.

But that assumption is flawed: we know where the voters live but we don’t know who they are, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest the turnout surge was powered disproportionately by liberal voters. A recent study by the data firm Catalist suggests that liberals made up a disproportionate share of the turnout increase, even in Repubican-leaning and swing districts. The study found that the 2018 electorate looked much more like the electorate in a presidential year than a typical midterm (in other words, more liberal) and that “young voters and voters of color, particularly Latinx voters, were a substantially larger share of the electorate than in past midterms.” Census data also shows that the biggest turnout jump was among young people, whose turnout increased by 79 percent, with big gains among Hispanics and Asians as well. So while no one can say for certain who the voters were that made up the midterm turnout surge, we should pump the brakes on concluding that the gains came mainly from moderate voters.

The job of Republican candidates is obvious: make their voters and right-leaning independents understand that the “moderate” sounding Democrats are, in fact, far-left extremists.

Biden is no “moderate” except when you compare him to the radicals like Warren and Sanders. But voting isn’t about comparing. It’s about choosing. And the wrong choice in 2020 will be very bad for the country.