by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When Joe Biden announced last month, he became the instant Democratic front-runner, based on his stature and huge name ID. But is he a front-runner like Walter Mondale, another former vice president, who overcame skepticism and won the Democratic nomination in 1984? Or is he an Edmund Muskie, who was the clear Democratic front-runner in 1972 but then was crushed by outsider George McGovern?
We’re more than six months away from the Iowa caucuses, and anything can happen. But there are already signs that Biden’s previous shortcomings as a candidate are returning. And the public is noticing.
Last December, almost a third of likely Iowa caucus voters wanted Biden to be the 2020 nominee. Now, a new Des Moines Register poll has him leading Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by only 24 percent to 16 percent. Less than three in ten of Biden’s supporters say they’re extremely enthusiastic about his candidacy, a significantly lower enthusiasm level than that expressed by supporters of Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg — his main rivals in Iowa.
And the Register poll was taken before Biden’s chaotic shift in position last week on the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Biden, a staunch Catholic, had supported the Hyde Amendment for more than three decades, but within 48 hours of being attacked for his stance by his opponents, he flip-flopped on the issue.