The public perception problems for Joe Biden are growing. He’s not all there, as is obvious from his disastrous livestreams and TV interviews, and has all but disappeared during the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

A just-released ABC News / Washington Post poll (pdf.) reveals another problem, one that comes as no surprise: Democrats are not enthsiastic about Biden, even as he racks up delegates and appears headed to the nomination.

Biden has only bare majority (51%) support among Democrats, and a 24% enthusiasm gap in a match up against Trump.

From the ABC News poll write-up:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as Democrats’ top choice for the presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, but with only bare majority support within his party and a massive enthusiasm gap in a November matchup against President Donald Trump.

Indeed, strong enthusiasm for Biden among his supporters – at just 24% – is the lowest on record for a Democratic presidential candidate in 20 years of ABC/Post polls. More than twice as many of Trump’s supporters are highly enthusiastic about supporting him, 53%.

Trump’s still-strong rating on the economy is another challenge for Biden. So is this: Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who prefer Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the nomination, 15% say they’d back Trump over Biden in the fall.

This is potentially devastating for Biden in a general election. While the race is essentially a national dead heat per the poll (49%-47% for Biden), his supporters are much less likely to show up.

Perhaps the Democrats’ biggest risk is under the surface, in Trump’s big advantage in backers who are “very” enthusiastic about supporting him. Strong enthusiasm for a candidate can help boost turnout on Election Day, a must-have particularly for Democrats, who rely more on motivating less-frequent voters to come to the polls.

Biden is losing about the same percentage of Bernie supporters as Hillary did, a reflection of a process viewed as rigged by Bernie supporters. While with Hillary the rigging was through superdelegates and secret DNC manipulation, with Biden it likely was the way in which the establishment — within a week — coalesced the mainstream against Bernie.

Eighty percent of Sanders backers say they’ll vote for Biden against Trump; as noted, 15% say they’d back Trump. (This is familiar: Twenty percent of Sanders supporters said they’d vote for Trump in spring 2016.) For context, 15% of Sanders supporters is 6% of all leaned Democrats, and Trump won 8% of Democrats in 2016. Still, Biden wants all the in-party support he can muster.

Further, among Sanders supporters who say they’d vote for Biden in November, a mere 9% are very enthusiastic about doing so. More, but still only 49%, are “somewhat” enthusiastic.

Trump continues to outperform on the economy, showing that voters do not blame him for the Wuhan coronavirus economic distruption:

Despite deep economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, 57% of Americans approve of his handling of the economy, a new high in ABC/Post data. And Trump leads Biden in trust to handle the economy, 50-42%. (As reported Friday, 48% also approve of Trump’s handling of the job generally, another career high.)

These findings all are familiar with what we observe outside polling. The chatter about Andrew Cuomo for President reflects a realization among many Democrats that Biden is a weak general election candidate, someone mentally and physically not up to the task of what Democrats consider most important: Defeating Trump.



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