Joe Biden has come a long way from being the uncontested frontrunner.

He jumped into the presidential race in late April, already leading by double digits. He was ahead by comfortable margins through most of the summer, except the two weeks where Sen. Kamala Harris looked like she might catch up with him after the first debate.

But things have changed.

Sen. Harris’ campaign has been in a freefall. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has been in a holding pattern.

However, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has gradually chipped away at Biden’s lead throughout the last few months. They are now trading places day-to-day for the top spot in the Real Clear Politics polling averages.

Here’s what things look like at RCP as of this writing:

In short, no one can consider Biden the frontrunner.

Biden’s lackluster debate performances have helped Warren, where he’s managed to survive more so than a win or have any particular standout moments. Another thing is his penchant for gaffes and flubs. Those led to questions about his age, health, and whether he has the stamina required in a presidential campaign.

President Trump’s attacks haven’t helped Biden, either. Instead of galvanizing his support, Trump’s attacks and Biden’s weak responses to them – especially on the Ukraine issue – have top donors panicking and wanting more forceful answers:

Donors complain that a string of verbal gaffes and inconsistent debate performances have contributed to a sense of worry about the strength of his candidacy.

There is also some dissatisfaction with how the Biden camp has responded to a new series of attacks from President Trump, who has seen his own calls for Ukraine to investigate the former vice president turn into the impetus for an impeachment inquiry in the House.

“Look, let’s be honest. He’s a weak front-runner,” one major donor said.


“A lot of us are really concerned,” another Democratic bundler said. “We think Biden is the strongest out of the lot, but he hasn’t exactly shown that he can play the part yet.”

The top donors have held meetings behind closed doors in an attempt to right the ship:

Over cocktails on Friday evening and a Saturday spent in a drab hotel conference room, Mr. Biden’s top financiers and fund-raisers received strategy briefings and PowerPoint presentations, and plotted the path forward for the former vice president, who suddenly found himself in fourth place in the money chase.

Only hours before the gathering began, the news broke that Ms. Warren, now seen as Mr. Biden’s chief rival, had out-raised him in the last three months by nearly $10 million — $24.6 million to $15.2 million. He lagged behind Senator Bernie Sanders ($25.3 million) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($19.1 million), too.


Donors, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, were on edge about how the impeachment proceedings would play out. Would Mr. Trump’s focus on Mr. Biden end up helping him by making it appear that Mr. Trump fears him? Or would Mr. Trump’s barrage — including on the airwaves in early states — and the president’s singular ability to command attention irreparably wound Mr. Biden in the mind of primary voters?

Questions about Biden’s tepid lines of attack led to two things this week: His call for Trump’s impeachment, which he had resisted up until Wednesday, and a dig he took at Warren on the same day:

White House hopeful Joe Biden appeared to swipe at Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), his chief primary rival, Wednesday as the Massachusetts Democrat surges in the polls.

“I want to take that vision. And yes, take the plans. But that’s not enough. It takes a proven ability to get things done. We’re not electing a planner,” Biden said during a speech Wednesday, referencing former President Kennedy’s vision when he announced the U.S. would land on the moon.

“There is no one in this race who has a stronger record of passing important, consequential legislation than I have,” he added.

His campaign sent letters to cable news outlets demanding they keep Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani off the air. They also requested the networks not run any Trump ads related to Biden’s role in U.S. policy towards Ukraine when he was vice president.

The campaign ramped up efforts with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in hopes they’ll reject the Ukraine ad. Facebook has said no to the request. Twitter has not yet publicly commented on what, if anything, they’ll do.

Team Biden harshly criticized the New York Times over an opinion piece raising questions about Biden’s Ukraine actions as they relate to his son Hunter.

You’d think Biden would want to clear the air once and for all about the Ukraine controversy by doing some sit-down interviews, right? Wrong:

CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny reported Sunday that former Vice President Joe Biden avoided interviews this past week “because he didn’t want to specifically be asked a lot of Hunter Biden–like questions.”


“This is a complicated area of discussion for the former vice president. I’m told [Biden] did not want to sit down for interviews or other things this week because he didn’t want to specifically be asked a lot of Hunter Biden–like questions,” Zeleny said on “Inside Politics.”

Perhaps Biden should send one of his campaign staffers to the debate next week in his place since they seem to be more willing to discuss the issue than he does.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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