Early polls favor Biden but Senate officials skeptical

Joe BidenJoe BidenPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE is leading the Democratic field in some early polls asking voters about the party’s prospective presidential candidates in 2020.

But in his old stomping grounds in the U.S. Senate, there are plenty of skeptics who point to the former vice president’s age, his support for the Iraq War and his two failed presidential bids as reasons to doubt he would be successful.

“It’s hard to see someone [winning] who voted for the Iraq War. People are looking to turn the page,” one senior Democratic aide said.

A second senior Democratic aide said “polls show that voters want someone who is new.”

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Biden, 75, served for decades in the Senate before his election as vice president.

A Democratic senator who requested anonymity to comment on Biden’s chances said “polls this early don’t mean anything” and argued a Politico/Morning Consult survey published Wednesday that showed Biden leading Trump 44 percent to 37 percent among registered voters doesn’t mean much since it didn’t poll other candidates against Trump.

Other Democrats noted Biden’s failed bids for the White House in 2008 and 1988 to argue that he might not be a strong candidate in 2020.

A spokesman for Biden declined to comment for this story.

Perhaps it’s not surprising to find skeptics of Biden in the Senate even among the Democratic caucus, given the number of senators thinking about running for president.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash MORE (D-Mass.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE (I-Vt.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWhite House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers Bloomberg on 2020 rivals blasting him for using his own money: 'They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money' Harris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day MORE (D-N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing Democrats battle for Hollywood's cash MORE (D-N.J.) are all seen as likely candidates, and they might not be the only ones running.

Biden also has his supporters, who argue that he’s a strong bet to win back white working-class voters who abandoned the party in three key states: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“I’m a big fan of Biden. We need to win back white voters in the Midwest and Biden can do it,” said a veteran Senate Democratic aide.

The aide said Biden could have an unobstructed shot at appealing to working-class and white male voters in a primary — especially if Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBoth sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial Lawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank Hillicon Valley: Senate Dems unveil privacy bill | Trump campaign, RNC rip Google political ad policy | Activists form national coalition to take on Amazon | Commerce issues rule to secure communications supply chain MORE (D-Ohio) doesn’t run for president.

Many think Biden will run for president, and he would start out a race with a number of advantages.

Polls showing Biden at the top of Democratic wish lists likely reflect Biden’s high name identification and ties to former President Obama, a revered figure in the party.

Obama’s first retrospective job approval rating as measured by Gallup in February was 63 percent — a point higher than former President Clinton’s and 10 points higher than former President George W. Bush’s.

Just last week, Biden and Obama visited at a bakery in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., together — a photo opportunity that did nothing to dissuade those who think the former vice president will run for the White House.

Whatever they think of Biden’s chances, Democrats feel their party has a good chance of knocking off Trump in 2020.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll found a generic Democratic candidate doing even better than Biden and leading Trump 48-35 percent.

Still, Alan Kessler, a Wilmington, Del., native and a longtime Biden supporter who backed Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats battle for Hollywood's cash The House Judiciary Committee's fundamental choice Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, said the poll will encourage Biden to think more seriously about running.

“If you’re toying around [with running for president] and you get a poll like that, certainly you have to be encouraged,” he said.

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Biden’s longtime Senate colleague, said it’s “not surprising at all” that a poll would show Biden “in a very positive light at this point” because of his “substantial name recognition” from being in public service a long time.

Dorgan is predicting a big presidential field in 2020 and “Democrats will have a lot of choices to make.”

He thinks Biden will start with a lead in the crowded field but expects “we will see new leaders emerge.”

He says the desire for a fresh face is “one of the things that Joe would have to overcome” but added “he will be someone that a lot of Democrats will look at very fondly because he’s provided leadership for a long while.”

Liberal activists argue that Biden’s weaker performance versus Trump compared to a generic candidate shows that the party is ready to nominate a more outspoken progressive.

“He’s basically a Democratic placeholder that has universal name recognition and is kind of stand-in for people. When they think Biden, they think Obama,” said Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America, a nationwide liberal grass-roots activist organization.

“The next Democratic nominee and I believe the next president is going to be an inclusive populist champion. Period. Bar none,” he said. “The idea that you’re going to run in 2020 on a neo-centrist agenda is beyond ludicrous, especially in a big dynamic Democratic primary.”