There are still six months until voting starts and two weeks until we even have the first debates, but the dynamic of the Democratic race is trending away from being a Joe Biden–Bernie Sanders mano a mano into something a little more like an open competition. The latest evidence is an Economist/YouGov national poll that puts Biden’s lead over the rest of the field—which was consistently in the 20- to 30-point range after he announced his campaign in late April—at 10 points. Also noteworthy is who’s in second place behind the former VP: Elizabeth Warren, not Sanders. The top five:
• Biden, 26 percent
• Warren, 16 percent
• Sanders, 12 percent
• Pete Buttigieg, 8 percent
• Kamala Harris, 6 percent
It’s the first time since she entered the race that Warren has led Sanders by more than the margin of error in a national poll. (Update, 1:15 p.m.: A just-released Monmouth poll of Nevada, whose caucus is after New Hampshire and before South Carolina, also has Warren in second place. It’s the first time she’s been ahead of Sanders in an early-voting state.) A Quinnipiac national survey released earlier this week, meanwhile, had it as Biden 30, Sanders 19, and Warren 15; the latest poll in Iowa (which is still the first state to vote) put Biden at 24 percent support with Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg all trailing him by 8-10 points. So: Biden still leading, but by less than before, with the rest of the pack catching up to Bernie. (And for what it’s worth, while Kamala Harris hasn’t been in a lot of news cycles recently, she’s still solidly in that second-tier pack and still seems to be in pretty good shape overall—39 percent of Democrats told YouGov that they’re at least considering voting for her, which is more than said the same for either Buttigieg or Sanders.)
Bernie, for his part, is giving a speech Wednesday in D.C., in which he will explain and defend his self-identification as a “democratic socialist”—the polarizing label that is responsible for much of his prominence in the first place but also seems likely to be related to the fact that, for example, the Economist/YouGov poll found that 21 percent of Democrats would be “disappointed” if he were the party’s nominee. A high percentage gave that answer for him than for any other candidate, except widely derided non-contender Mayor Bill de Blasio.
And Joe Biden? Well, Joe Biden is doing Joe Biden things:
Classic Joe Biden in every sense!