A new poll out Wednesday shows that the Democratic presidential primary could be a legitimate three-way race should Vice President Joe Biden enter the fray.
The Bloomberg Politics survey found that Biden would get 25% of the vote among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.
That placed him behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner in the contest, who grabbed 33%.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who has surged in polls of early-voting states, was roughly tied with Biden, with 24% in the Bloomberg poll.
Other contenders don’t come close: Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) had just 2% and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had 1%.
But Biden’s number is particularly striking as he is not yet a candidate.
The vice president, reeling from the death of his son, has repeatedly said he is not sure if he is emotionally ready for what would undoubtedly be a gruelling campaign.
“We’re just not quite there yet. And [we] may not get there in time to make it feasible to be able to run and succeed because there’s certain windows that will close. But if that’s it, that’s it. But it’s not like I can rush it,” Biden told the Catholic magazine America in an interview published Monday. “I know that’s not satisfying to anybody.”
The Bloomberg poll also comes as Clinton’s campaign tries to stabilise itself after a rocky summer filled with critical headlines about her use of a private email server at the State Department. She has recently shifted tactics as a result, conducting regular interviews and trying to show more humour on the campaign trail.
Since the last Bloomberg survey in April, Clinton has suffered a 10-point drop in her favorability ratings, from 48% to 38%, while Biden has had a 3-point uptick, from 46% to 49%.
“He was the only one of a dozen national political figures and entities whose approval rating improved over the summer,” Bloomberg reported.
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