Is Joe Biden finished?

To read and watch the pundits talk, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine MORE is coming to an end of his quest for the presidency.

He was stunned by attacks from California Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Team Trump criticizes Sanders for vote against USMCA MORE in the first debate; he is tripping over his words and talking way too much; he is looking old; and he is at the center of the Ukrainian scandal that is the focus of attention in Washington (but perhaps not everywhere else). Even new candidates like former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick are ready to fill in the moderate gap they see with Biden’s tumble.

But Joe Biden is not politically dead.


There has simply been too much wailing and gnashing of teeth by Democratic insiders and Trump-haters who want the strongest candidate possible to face the incumbent in November 2020. Despite being at the center of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE’s impeachment investigation, polling at lower levels than when he started, and giving up the position of undisputed leader in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, the former VP still has a lot going for him.

He continues to lead in most national polls. He is very much in the mix in Iowa and New Hampshire. He leads handsomely in Nevada, South Carolina and California, which follow the two benchmark states. He remains solid and unchallenged in the support he receives from African Americans — a solid constituency whose large turnout helped put Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNew Hampshire Rep. Kuster endorses Buttigieg Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall Ray LaHood backs Biden for president MORE over the top in 2008 and 2012 and whose weaker turnout spelled doom for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFormer Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' NYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info New Hampshire state lawmaker switches support from Warren to Klobuchar MORE in 2016.

Biden is still a formidable debater, and he has weathered attacks so far. He possesses both the experience and demeanor of “the everyman” to simply laugh at Donald Trump’s shenanigans. He was adept in defeating Sarah Palin in 2008 without going into overkill mode, and he minced Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Latinos say they didn't benefit from Trump tax cuts — here's why Conservative commentator rips Trump's signature tax overhaul: 'It was a big mistake' MORE with ridicule in 2012, winning both vice presidential debates. 

I would actually make the case that his polling numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire may be a blessing in disguise. While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE and Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFormer insurance executive: 'Medicare for all' would eliminate jobs that are 'not needed' Buttigieg says he's proud to be a part of US system amid UK royal family drama Buttigieg asked about 'Mayo Pete' memes by New York Times ed board MORE of Indiana are taking their turns at leading, are they peaking too early? Can they deal with the significant charges that either their plans are too controversial (Warren) or that they lack experience (Buttigieg)? In a crowded field, especially one that is about to get testier, Biden just might be better off going into Iowa and New Hampshire with reduced expectations and matching or surpassing those than by polling in higher numbers and failing to attain what is expected.

As for the rambling, that is Joe being Joe. He may be slower than he used to be, but he is still talking at least half a mile a minute. After each of the three debates, I have watched him on the stage in a crouch shaking hands, taking selfies, inching closer to hug fans — few of us can successfully do that.

No one is anointed — nor should they be. Early frontrunners often crash. At this point in time in 2003, Howard Dean was all but the official nominee for the Democrats, but voters changed their minds, from favoring someone who stood on principle over one who could defeat then-President George W. Bush. Biden has his challenges ahead, and other frontrunners may come and go (just remember the GOP primaries in 2012, where everyone in the field had the lead at one point). But Biden is very much in this race. 

John Zogby is founder of the Zogby Poll and a veteran of U.S. presidential polling. He has conducted polls for Reuters, the New York Post, the Miami Herald, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Houston Chronicle, and other news media in the U.S. and abroad. Follow him on Twitter @TheJohnZogby