2016 Election, Elections, Joe Biden, NewsEdge, The White House

Will Joe Biden run for president in 2016?

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(Guardian Web)
Joe Biden and Jimmy Carter

Joe Biden and Jimmy Carter

Will the third time be the charm for Joe Biden?

The vice-president, who has twice mounted runs for the White House, signaled he was still open to exploring a third presidential bid this weekend when longtime aide Josh Alcorn joined the Draft Biden Pac. This was the first official link between Biden’s close-knit circle of loyalists and the effort mounted by fans of the vice-president to encourage him to jump into the 2016 campaign.

Related: Joe Biden aides discussing possible 2016 run with Democratic leaders, report says

Those close to Biden emphasized to the Guardian this week that the vice-president has still not made a decision about whether to run for president. Instead, they noted that Alcorn’s move should be read as a signal that Biden hasn’t ruled out a run and that his supporters should not yet sign on with other campaigns.

Biden has long indicated to supporters that he would make a final decision about a presidential campaign at the end of the summer. While this would be a very late start for a presidential campaign by modern standards, it would still allow Biden to appear in the first Democratic debate as well as to speak at the Iowa Democratic party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which is a major event on the primary calendar.

While Biden’s late son Beau reportedly urged his father to run for White House from his deathbed, it is unclear whether all members of the Biden family share this enthusiasm. A third presidential campaign for Biden would be an uphill fight against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who has locked up significant support from the Democratic establishment. However, amid the constant drip of scandal surrounding her use of a private email server, her campaign has been marked more by acquiescence to a seemingly inevitable candidate than genuine enthusiasm.

Clinton’s relatively lackluster campaign has given Biden a potential opening for a run. He has been further helped by the relative weakness of Clinton’s two main rivals: Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. Although Sanders has surged in the polls, many Democrats still don’t consider him to be a viable candidate in a general election, and while O’Malley has campaigned vigorously, he continues to poll in the low single digits both nationally and in early states.

Related: Draft Biden: key supporter Dick Harpootlian gives $10,000 to super PAC

The question is whether Biden can do any better than Sanders and O’Malley in campaigning against Clinton. Both Clinton and Biden will be strongly tied to the Obama administration, are longtime veterans of national politics with near universal name recognition, and ran unsuccessfully in 2008.

Back then, Biden didn’t quite receive the support of 1% of potential statewide delegates in the Iowa caucuses and was quickly forced to drop out. Although his campaign exceeded all of its goals on caucus night, the unprecedented wave of turnout that year meant that Biden’s campaign did not reach the 15% threshold needed in most precincts to accumulate delegates. In contrast, while Clinton also had a disappointing caucus night, she still finished third with the support of 30% of potential statewide delegates.

As sitting vice-president, Biden still has major institutional advantages and would be able to quickly raise money and build a political organization. But every day he waits, it becomes that much tougher for the sitting vice president. It is another day that his opponents are wooing activists and raising money while he isn’t.

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