Biden’s Poll Lead Evaporates If Clinton Runs in 2016

May 2, 2013 1:21pm

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

A world without Hillary Clinton looks pretty good for Joe Biden.

Indeed, if the former secretary of state decides against running for president in 2016, a new Quinnipiac University poll released today shows, the vice president not only looks like a leading contender, he leaves other potential Democratic hopefuls in the dust.

More than three years from Election Day 2016, Biden commands the support of 45 percent of Democratic voters, the poll found. He’s 30 points ahead of his closest competitor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who draws 15 percent support, followed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick at 6 percent, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 3 percent and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner rounding out the group of five possible candidates with 2 percent.

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In such a match-up, 26 percent of registered and leaning Democrats said they do not know for whom they would vote if the election were held today, according to the poll, which was conducted between April 25 and 29 and has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

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Regardless of whether Clinton is in the equation, “none of the other younger potential candidates for the Democratic nomination currently has anything approaching widespread support from party voters,” Quinnipiac pollster Peter A. Brown said.

Biden, 70, has remained relatively quiet about another presidential bid, which would be his third run for the White House if he chooses to run. In April, son Beau Biden, Delaware’s attorney general, said in an interview with The New York Times, “It’s no secret that he’s thinking about this,” but added, “he hasn’t made up his mind.”

Joe Biden heads to Columbia, S.C., this weekend where he will deliver remarks at the South Carolina Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner and attend Jim Clyburn’s World Famous Fish Fry, two opportunities for the vice president to test the waters in the early primary state.

But if Biden has designs on moving from the vice president’s residence to the White House in 2016, today’s poll suggests that Clinton poses a grave threat.

Put the former first lady back and New York senator, 65, into the presidential mix and, at this point, she blows the rest of the field out of the water, amassing the support of 65 percent of Democrats. Biden drops from the top of the heap to the low double digits – 13 percent – creating a Grand Canyon-like 52 percentage point gap between the two potential candidates.

In such a scenario, the rest of the field (Cuomo, 55, Patrick, 56, O’Malley, 50, and Warner, 58) are all languishing in the low single digits. At the same time, the percentage of Democratic voters who say they don’t know who they would support eases to 14 percent.

An earlier Quinnipiac poll taken in March showed Clinton’s beating three possible Republican contenders in head-to-head match ups: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin congressman and former GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Quinnipiac released today’s poll on the same day that the Democratic group, Emily’s List, started a campaign to put a woman in the White House. Emily’s List is being careful not to make the effort a cheering session for Clinton, but its president, Stephanie Schriock, acknowledged the obvious in a CNN Op-Ed.

“There’s one name on all our minds: Hillary Clinton,” she wrote. “Voters across the country are excited about her possible run.”

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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