Biden sees donor enthusiasm, strong polls post-controversy

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' MORE is seeing growing enthusiasm among donors despite the controversy surrounding women who have accused him of inappropriate touching. 

Some Biden supporters who spoke to The Hill said the allegations haven’t hurt Biden, who they said is likely to see a swell of support when he enters the race. 

“If you know Joe, you can’t take that seriously,” one Democratic bundler said. “I think people see where he is in the polls, and they think he can get the job done.”


The bundler downplayed the recent allegations, saying many potential donors “thought it was overblown.”

Biden is leading in the polls in several early voting states — including in the key state of California, where he bests home-state candidate Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much MORE

The Quinnipiac University Poll out Wednesday showed Biden receiving support from 26 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters in California. Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBullock: I would not have endorsed health care for undocumented immigrants on debate stage Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act MORE (I-Vt.) and Harris received 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, in the Golden State. 

A Monmouth University Poll of Iowa voters out Thursday found Biden with the support of 27 percent of likely caucusgoers, compared to 16 percent for Sanders. 

The former vice president and his supporters believe the large Democratic field that has swelled to 18 candidates benefits Biden since it will make it tougher for anyone to reach 50 percent. 

It’s a message the Biden team is bringing to donors as they seek to shore up fundraising ahead of a campaign announcement, which is expected after Easter.

Fundraising has become a priority for Bidenworld in the final days before the launch. One source familiar with the process said Biden wants to kick off the campaign from “a position of strength” —particularly at a time when the leading candidates have disclosed their first 24-hour totals nearly right away.

In calls with potential donors and fundraisers, Biden's team has pointed to his standing in the polls as proof that he has time on his side before he jumps into the race. But it also maintains that Biden is the one who can defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE in the general election. 

“People are going to coalesce around the person who can win. End of story,” said a second Democratic bundler. “The animus for Trump in this party continues to grow, and therefore it all goes back to one main question: Who is the best candidate to beat Trump? The polls keep pointing to Biden, which, in my view, I think it's real.”

The bundler said the allegations surrounding Biden were “unfortunate” but that the former vice president “handled it well.”

Biden released a video to address the allegations last week and then appeared at a Washington event where he made jokes about the episode — some of which felt flat with his critics and pundits on television. 

The next day, “Saturday Night Live” parodied the former vice president in its cold open. 

Polls, however, suggest Biden hasn’t been stung badly by the controversy. 

Supporters of Biden say that while donors will be there for him, his grass-roots efforts need more work. 

“That’s where he’ll struggle. I think that’s where Beto or Mayor Pete will see the biggest numbers,” the bundler said, referring to former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) and Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE, the mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Biden has other land mines that could trip him up in the primary. 

For starters, he has the longest record of anyone running. And he’s already had to defend his positions on everything from his vote on a Clinton-era crime bill to his treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings. 

Speaking at the Silfen Forum in Philadelphia on Thursday, Biden said he “got stuck” writing the crime bill legislation because of his role as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. 

Biden does have the advantage of the Obama years when lining up his donor base.

“He benefits from enormous goodwill from the Obama years and is remembered by the donor community as an incredibly loyal and able partner to a historic president,” said Democratic strategist David Wade, who served as a spokesman for Biden during the 2008 general election.  

“I wouldn't underestimate the fact that he's genuinely liked. No one dislikes Vice President Biden. It matters. When a candidate is dialing for dollars, it absolutely matters whether you roll your eyes or whether you're happy to hear their voice,” he added.