The Student Blog Post series invites students from my PLS 321: Electoral Process course to author their own blogs about recent election events.
It is not a secret that social media has come to dictate how the average person receives information, for a single tweet or Facebook post can spark an entire series of rumors that affect the reality around us. Political pundits have been speculating for some time now, both on social media and on television (yeah, that old thing), that Vice President Joe Biden is strongly considering entering the race to become the candidate representing the Democratic Party in the 2016 presidential election. Just this speculation alone has led to a few candidates, whose names are actually on the ballot, to be completely blown out in the polls by someone who is yet to publicly announce any intention of running. The real question still remains, how is Joe Biden and the speculation around his potential candidacy the deciding factor in the nomination process of the Democratic Party?
The most recent national polls paint a fairly clear picture as to how Joe Bidens decision to either run or not will make or break this crucial process in selecting who will represent the party on the national stage. Candidate Lincoln Chafee has found himself dead last in the most recent polls with a national average of 0.3 percent planning on voting for him. Martin O’Malley edges Chafee out in the polls with 0.8 percent and Jim Webb rounds out the group with 1.3 percent. Hillary Clinton is still the front-runner with 43.8 percent, but has seen the gap begin to close with Bernie Sanders at 23.5 percent. Interestingly enough, in the middle of October without an announcement for candidacy, Joe Biden is polling at 19.3 percent absolutely crushing Chafee, OMalley, and Webb without essentially lifting a finger. If Biden was to announce his candidacy, it can only be presumed that he would gain a larger share in the votes and could challenge the likes of Clinton and Sanders for the bid. The real scenario to analyze is what the outcome in the polls would be if Biden is to publicly come out and announce that he would not be seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, how would that 19.3 percent distribute? Until this is to actually happen one can only speculate or go out and poll that percentage of people and ask what candidate they would vote for instead.
Historically, those who vote for a third candidate have had the potential to make a large impact in an election, but one can only speculate as to what would have happened. This is of course a reference to the infamous 2000 presidential election where Ralph Nader of the Green Party picked up close to 100,000 popular votes in Florida the Bush v. Gore election. The pair of Bush and Gore would eventually go to court and Bush would win the suit and claim the presidency in controversial fashion. Those who voted for Nader were later polled and a large majority claimed that they would have voted for Gore if they were unable to for Nader, which would have closed that 500 vote gap for Gore and ultimately win in the general election by a few thousand voted which could have lead to a different outcome in court. If Biden is to announce his candidacy, although not to the scale of massive importance as deciding the next president, it would surely shake up the race for the Democratic bid, but he is clearly bound to be an important factor when it comes to who will win primaries and in turn the Democratic nomination. A no from the Vice President could lead to an uncatchable lead for Senator Clinton or could have Sanders shockingly close the gap and even pass Clinton in the polls. The possibilities do not end there because these percentages could also make or break the outside three candidates: OMalley, Webb and Chafee, who are clearly beginning to lose favor and are far behind someone who is yet to announce their candidacy. Joe Bidens candidacy is destined to have an effect on who will win the bid for the Democratic party, the enigma surrounding his indecision on running is having a major impact on every candidate and has the potential of being a game changer in that it could make the race closer than ever, or clearly mark the favorite.
Aram Basmajian is a fourth-year political science major at Cal Poly Pomona who hopes to move onto law school next year.