Despite a campaign that has mostly been defined by stumbles, including a head-scratcher of an answer at the last debate that only added fuel to the fire for those who question whether he’s fit to run a stressful campaign for the next year and change, Joe Biden continues to lead the Democratic primary race. Recent polls tell the story—among non-white voters and older voters, Biden’s lead seems to be rock-solid even as he slowly loses support among different demographics.
A new Fox News poll out Thursday shows that Biden leads the field with 29%, beating Sanders (18%) and Warren (16%) by double digits, and the further breakdown illustrates his strongest levels of support: Among non-white voters, he commands 34% of the vote, trouncing Sanders and Warren, and voters 45+ like him even more, with 38% expressing support. The age gap with Sanders is prominent: Voters under 45 prefer Bernie by a 29-20 margin, while the over-45 groups falls to Biden 38-8.
An Economist/YouGov Poll that also came out after the last debate breaks down favorability by race and age, and here again, Biden shines with his two favorite demographics. Thirty-five percent of black voters feel “very favorable” to Biden, compared to just 16% of white voters and 18% of Hispanic voters. Sixty percent of black voters feel favorable or better about him, compared to 37% and 41% for white and Hispanic voters, respectively. And when it comes down to voting, 38% of voters 65+ will cast their ballot for Biden, a +18 margin with Warren and +32 with Sanders. Under 45, however, he only enjoys 16% support, and is bested by Sanders and Warren among 18-29 year-olds, and by Sanders among those 30-44. Additionally, nearly half of all black voters (47%) intend to support Biden.
Finally, in a post-debate SurveyUSA poll, the story is the same. Older voters love Biden and hate Bernie, and younger voters feel the opposite. And no group supports any candidate at the rate that black voters support Biden—42%, in this case.
None of this is particularly surprising, and the trends have been consistent throughout the primary process. But it continues to be an alarming truth for other candidates, because older voters tend to turn out in greater numbers across the country, and many of the early primary states, particularly in the red states of the southeast, are heavily influenced by black primary voters. In other words, these are two critical demographics, and to borrow a term from Hillary Clinton’s victorious primary campaign over Sanders, these groups look very much like Biden’s “firewall.” If these voters stay with him regardless of his campaign acumen, and barring an unlikely Warren-Sanders alliance, the other candidates are very likely fighting a losing battle.