- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2014

It has been clear for some time that Joseph R. Biden is far behind Hillary Rodham Clinton among potential Democratic presidential candidates, but recent polling data suggest the vice president may not even be his party’s second choice.

Researchers say Mr. Biden — who, like Mrs. Clinton, has openly talked about a White House bid but hasn’t announced a decision — will struggle to gain traction with voters in early primary and caucus states such as Iowa.

A Suffolk University poll puts the vice president third in the Democratic field in Iowa, trailing Mrs. Clinton and progressive favorite Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

PHOTOS: A distant third: Joe Biden struggles for traction in early 2016 jousting

Mrs. Clinton is the favored candidate for 63 percent of likely Iowa caucusgoers, the poll shows. Mrs. Warren garnered 12 percent, and Mr. Biden came in third with 10 percent.

Political analysts say the survey, taken nearly two years before the Iowa caucuses, should be viewed with caution, but it does underscore the serious, perhaps fatal, flaws of a Biden campaign.

Hillary Rodham Clinton would have plenty of advantages in a Democratic presidential primary race against Joseph R. Biden. She is already far ahead in polls and has a political and fundraising machine in full operating mode. (Associated Press)
Hillary Rodham Clinton would have plenty of advantages in a Democratic presidential ... more >

Chief among them are Mr. Biden’s unbreakable ties to President Obama, as well as the fact that one of the vice president’s key constituencies — blue-collar workers in states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio — also are among Mrs. Clinton’s top demographics.

“What does Joe have that she doesn’t have?” said Samuel L. Popkin, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego. Mr. Popkin served as a consultant to the Bill Clinton and Al Gore presidential campaigns.

“All vice presidents have this horrendous problem looking like they’re nobody, because nobody has any idea of what they are and what they stand for. What is Joe Biden? Is he a cheerleader or a leader? Does he stand for something different than Obama?” Mr. Popkin said.

Mrs. Clinton has confirmed that she is pondering a White House bid. Despite her strong showing in all polls, Mr. Biden still may mount a challenge.

On Wednesday, he reiterated that he has not made a decision but said his White House ambitions won’t have any effect on his current duties.

“If I absolutely knew I wasn’t going to run or I absolutely knew I was, there’s nothing I’d do differently over the next seven, eight, 10 months,” Mr. Biden said in an interview with CBS News. “If I decide to run, believe me, [the president] will be the first guy I talk to. But that decision hasn’t been made, for real, and there’s plenty of time to make that.”

Mr. Obama continues to deflect questions about whether he would endorse Mr. Biden, Mrs. Clinton or any other Democrat in the 2016 primary race.

“I’ve got somebody who I think will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history,” Mr. Obama told CBS News. “And I know we’ve got an extraordinary secretary of state who did great service for us and worked with me and Joe to help make the country safer. Whoever the Democratic standard-bearer is, is going to be continuing to focus on jobs, making sure that our kids are getting a great education, making sure that we’re rebuilding prosperity from the middle class out in this country.”

Clinton’s advantages

The backing of the sitting president surely would be a coup for Mr. Biden or Mrs. Clinton, but the former first lady has other advantages.

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