Last week, Vice President Joe Biden announced that he wasn’t going to run for president, a controversial yet positive move for the Democratic Party. For Biden, nothing was more important than being “in the deal”. In 2008, when deciding to accept Obama’s invitation to join the Presidential ticket, his only requirement was a guarantee that he would be “in the deal” in every meeting that mattered and never unable to reach the President when it came to important issues. Once Hillary Clinton began to accumulate the air of a frontrunner, logic dictated that the best way for Biden to stay in the deal was to keep alive the prospect of his candidacy.
In a Rose Garden announcement on Wednesday with the President standing beside him, Biden stated, “I believe we’re out of time, the time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination.” After over two weeks of critic’s predicting his candidacy, Biden secured himself from the perils of a campaign and aimed to reassure the Democratic party’s’ success against the rival Republicans. It was clear that he wasn’t ready to exit the deal entirely. “While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation” he said.
The arguments against his candidacy were insurmountable to ignore; he had positive ratings in the public’s eyes and even a surge of good will surrounding the death in May of his son Beau. In a recent New Hampshire poll by the Boston Globe, he drew only eleven percent of support – far behind that of Hillary Clinton at thirty-seven percent and Bernie Sanders, at thirty-five percent. In August, CNN asked the public if Biden should enter the race, with more than half of respondents stating he should. But when asked again recently, more people said he should not. In theory, as an outgoing Vice-President with a long center left voting record in the Senate, Biden was poorly positioned to challenge Sanders from the left and would have been forced to compete with Clinton for mainstream Democratic voters. If he had put passion and aptitude before political calculation, it would have been a preview of his susceptibility as a candidate.
After Clinton had entrenched a formidable lead, there remained one especially tempting reason to run. Once it became obvious that over Democratic candidate, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee were dismissible, Biden faced the prospect that the next person in line, in the event that Clinton falters, was Bernie Sanders. When it comes to defense, economic and domestic issues, Joe Biden is slightly more conservative than Sanders’s ‘Democratic-Socialist’ ideology and is better aligned with Clinton’s agenda. Clinton and Biden have a positive relationship after working in the white house, with Clinton commending Biden’s hard work during the Jefferson-Jackson dinner last Saturday and respecting his decision to not stand for candidacy. If Biden was to run, he would have to begin with no money, no staff, and no organization. He would have been equipped with little more than a devout belief that he would be President and an appetite for politics that is bountiful even by Washington standards.
Sanders is currently drawing more of Barack Obama’s campaign donors than Clinton. The Vermont senator has already received contributions from 24,582 of Obama’s donors; whereas Clinton has only gained just over 9000 of them. The self-proclaimed “Democratic Socialist” is widely considered among the most progressive elected leaders in Washington. His performance at the Democratic debate was bold, passionate and echoed the frustration of the U.S.’s divide between poor and rich. Sanders provides a refreshing change to politics and plays on the same tune of change and hope that soared Obama into power. In reflection to Clinton, Sanders has historically been an activist for human rights and trade and remained firm on his beliefs. For instance, many feel that Clinton’s record on issues such as same sex marriage have been unstable with her previous support of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, Defense of Marriage Act and banning people who were HIV+ from entering the United States. Clinton was also in favor of the Iraq war which she later came to regret. Sander’s leverage into power rides on scrutinizing Clinton’s political instability and poor judgement on affairs which is favorably attracting the public’s view.
Clinton’s fundraising hauls have dwarfed every other competitor in the race with almost thirty million dollars raised in the third quarter. Her campaign currently employs over 500 staff, compensating for $8.5 million in salaries and payroll tax as well as $3.4 million for television advertising, $2.5 million in direct marketing and 1.2 million in polling. When coupled with Clinton’s strong debate performance and playful dismissal of the Benghazi and email scandals hurting her, she firmly has the capacity to secure the support required for Democratic nomination. Clinton has a commanding lead in endorsements; thus far she has nine governors, 31 senators and 117 representatives behind her. She also has rapidly been amassing the support of delegates who will eventually choose the nominee. Alongside the polling this would have been another place where Biden would have had a goliath task of playing catchup to his opponents.
According to political scientists, endorsements at this stage of the presidential race are more predictive than the early polls about who wins a party’s nomination. In the 1980-2004 primaries, a candidate’s share of endorsements during the invisible primary was associated with how many delegates that candidate won in the party convention months lade. Endorsements are certainly a prominent and important signal about a candidate’s standing with the party and ultimately decide whether a candidate can be the party’s standard-bearer.