Earlier this morning I published some reader emails and my own commentary about the electability issue. As I noted here, to me the other candidates besides Biden need to show over the remainder of 2019 that they’re strong candidates against Donald Trump. In an email I hadn’t published yet, TPM Reader MO wrote, “I’m happy to grab some popcorn and watch for the next six months for any of these candidates to prove themselves as Trump-beaters. So far only Biden is making the case.” That’s where I am. But a new Quinnipiac Poll just came out which may start to change the equation. Biden is still the strongest contender against Trump. But the others are beating him pretty handily too.
The new poll has Biden beating Trump 53%-40%, really blowout territory. As usual, Sanders is also strong but a touch behind (51%-42%).
But look at these other numbers: Harris, 49% to 41% over Trump; Warren 49% to 42%; Buttigieg 47%-42%.
We’ve got the same overall pattern. But when Harris has an 8 point margin over Trump, that’s real. Pretty much the same for Warren.
I’m particularly interested to see these numbers for Warren because she’s been rising in the primary polls and she’s been running a really strong campaign. Up until now though she’s really lagged with Trump compared to the other candidates.
The primary race is Biden (30%), Sanders (19%), Warren (15%), Buttigieg (8%), Harris (7%).
It’s just one poll and all that. But these numbers are very good news for Democrats. As I said, if by the end of the year, Biden is clearly the strongest contender against Trump, I’m for Biden, especially if Biden has a clear lead and the others are in margin of error territory. But that’s not the best outcome for Democrats, even if you’re a strong supporter of Biden on his own merits. When you have a number of strong candidates and a number of big policy issues driving the campaign, it’s at best non-ideal to have the race constrained by one candidate having a decisive electability advantage.
Here’s the full email from TPM Reader MO that I referenced above …
You’ve finally managed to express a key point that has been driving a lot of this conversation: most primary voters are waiting for candidates to show them that they can beat Trump. It’s the only thing that matters.
Biden is smart (or lazy and lucky) to be effectively running a general election campaign. In contrast to the other candidates who are racing to be representative of the 2020 Democratic electorate, Biden isn’t.
I like Warren’s policy positions. Great. It doesn’t matter. I just don’t see a bunch of non-college blue-collar PA voters changing their mind on a gut call to vote Trump in 2016 to vote Warren in 2020. It requires to much of an admission of error to do so. The more that the other candidates race for the heart and soul of the diverse D left the better Biden looks.
In the meantime, I’m happy to grab some popcorn and watch for the next six months for any of these candidates to prove themselves as Trump-beaters. So far only Biden is making the case.