Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s path to the White House just got a whole lot clearer.
When Vice President Joe Biden suddenly announced he would not run for president on Wednesday, he also removed one of the biggest question marks looming over Clinton’s campaign.
Clinton limped into the fall after a difficult summer filled with questions over her email practices and the surging candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is running as a Democrat.
As he toyed with a potential late entry into the race, polls found that a Biden campaign would pull more supporters from Clinton than from Sanders.
For example, a CNN/ORC survey this week found Clinton would lead Sanders 45% to 29% nationally with Biden in the race. But with Biden’s name removed as an option, Clinton’s lead expanded to 56% to 33%.
Sanders himself appeared to acknowledge that Biden would help his campaign in an interview flagged last month by BuzzFeed. Sanders suggested that it would be easier for him to win with a plurality than by getting 50% in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton.
“I think a three-way race with Vice President Joe Biden, if he chooses to get into it, would make it an interesting and different dynamic,” Sanders said on American Urban Radio, according to BuzzFeed. “I think what it would end up doing is — obviously making it, instead of having to get 50% of the vote, you’d probably have to get 35% of the vote, which I think for us is a very achievable goal.”
With Biden out of contention and no likely surprise entries in to the race, Clinton now only has one opponent left who regularly polls above 1%: Sanders.
Sanders has raised gobs of money and his rallies are packed with thousands of supporters, but much of the Democratic establishment is wary of a self-described democratic socialist being its general-election standard-bearer.
So Clinton appears to have had a great Wednesday, though that might not last, depending on what happens Thursday when she testifies before House Republicans’ select committee on Benghazi.
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