According to a Harvard/Harris poll released yesterday, Joe Biden is the initial frontrunner for the 2020 presidential nomination among the 36 potential Democratic presidential candidates. The former vice president leads the pack with 25 percent of respondents supporting his bid (the number increases to 28 percent if Hillary Clinton is not included among the options of candidates to support), followed by Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 15 percent (21 without Clinton).
The somewhat surprising result is that Beto O’Rourke, who last month lost a bid for the Senate to Ted Cruz, takes fourth in the field of Democratic candidates with 9 percent. While these polls are somewhat meaningless — Donald Trump barely registered among GOP primary voters at this time in the 2016 election cycle — and will change between now and the Iowa Caucuses, they do allow candidates to claim momentum and support. This poll is one that greatly benefits Beto O’Rourke as he mulls a presidential run.
Since O’Rourke’s loss to Ted Cruz, the most-loathed member of the United States Senate, several Democrats have been talking up the idea of a Beto presidential campaign. It defies logic, as not only would Beto essentially be failing up, but his senate run was far from a laudable campaign.
Make no mistake, O’Rourke’s campaign is deserving of praise for energizing the Texas Democratic base and younger voters. However, his campaign did not perform well with key demographics that a Democratic presidential nominee would need in order to win the presidency.
White women evenly split their vote 49-49 nationally between Democratic and GOP candidates in 2018. However, Beto significantly underperformed with this demographic, as they backed Cruz 66-34. He also underperformed among college graduates, with 48 percent supporting his campaign, but 59 percent supporting Democrats nationally. Additionally, he lagged behind the national numbers among suburban and rural voters (and Obama performed better in rural areas in 2012 than Beto in 2018).
People who believe Beto can beat Trump would be wise to look at his weaknesses.
Finally, at an event in Montana last night, Joe Biden all but confirmed that he is running for president in 2020. While he has said that he will officially decide in the next several weeks, Biden’s line, “I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” is not something said by someone who is still mulling over whether or not to run.