With over a year to go until the Democratic National Convention in 2020, is it too soon to be giving Joe Biden the spotlight? Potentially.
Although Biden looks like a safe bet given his poll numbers 16 months out, his supporters don’t even care to show up to his rallies. As Ben Shapiro so lovingly puts it, Biden’s speeches are boring to watch and he sounds like he’s going to croak any minute.
Contrast that with the high energy of a Trump rally. The audiences don’t compare.
In June 2015, the comparable time period of the last election, our current energizer-in-chief was polling at a measly 4 percent. Then, Jeb Bush was the obvious front-runner for the 2016 Republican nomination. In fact, at that time Donald Trump was polling behind all of the following candidates:
- Jeb Bush (11.3 percent)
- Scott Walker (10.8 percent)
- Marco Rubio (10.3 percent)
- Ben Carson (9 percent)
- Rand Paul (8.8 percent)
- Mike Huckabee (8.8 percent)
- Ted Cruz (7.5 percent)
- Chris Christie (4.8 percent)
However, just one month later Trump started to skyrocket in the polls. On July 20, 2015, Trump surpassed Bush to hold the highest numbers of any candidate. Not to mention that John Kasich originally polled lower than Trump and ended up being one of the last Republicans standing.
So why are we so quick to call Biden the DNC’s obvious pick? If we were to look at today’s polling data and compare it to that of 2015, that leaves plenty of room for growth for those Democrats with low polling numbers. Beto O’Rourke is currently polling at 3.5 percent, just 0.5 percent lower than Trump at this same timeframe four years ago. In 2015, to begin polling for a Bush versus Clinton general election race would have been a waste of time.
And remember Biden’s empty campaign rallies. He has the name recognition, he’s served almost his whole life in Washington D.C., so why are his rallies so empty with poll numbers so high? He might want to ask Jeb how that ends up.
Two other very important presidents fell low in the polls when they first entered the race and then rose to become the Democratic nominees.
Back in 1976, Jimmy Carter entered the presidential race with polling numbers hitting 0.8 percent. He trailed behind nine other potential candidates. Of course, Carter was ultimately elected the 39th president on the United States. If we were to compare the 1976 Democratic nominee race to today’s race, that would mean Michael Bennet has a shot at being president.
In 1992, Bill Clinton began polling at 1.3 percent in the Democratic primaries. He was trailing behind two potential nominees and one that hadn’t even announced his intentions to run yet. At 1.3 percent, we’re giving Amy Klobuchar hope today.
Some candidates seen as leaders early in the race, like Bush and potentially Biden, lose their shots. Others, such as Carter and Clinton, rise out of mediocrity to become the front runners after all.
History is a helpful reminder that any of the current candidates have a shot at winning the DNC’s nomination in July 2020. It’s any man’s game right now, regardless of their current standings in the polls.