As the Delaware primary election draws nearer, Senator Joe Biden has fallen farther behind front-runner Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination. Meanwhile, according to the most recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, President Bush and the war in Iraq remain as unpopular as they have ever been, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani holds a strong lead though many Republicans remain undecided.
“The front loading of primaries has completely changed the dynamics of the presidential campaign,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University and survey analyst with PublicMind. “Without a single, clear winner coming out of the three early races, states holding a vote on February 5, 2008, including Delaware, become pivotal.”
Biden continues to be seen very favorably in his home state, with 57% of Delaware voters holding a positive view of him, but this does not seem to translate into support for his nomination. Only 19% of First State Democrats rate him as their first choice for the nomination, well behind frontrunner Senator Hillary Clinton, who has expanded her lead in recent months from 34% to 41%. Illinois Senator Barack Obama (17%) remains in a statistical dead heat with Biden (19%) for second place. Moreover, only a little more than half of Delaware Democrats (54%), and only 41% of all Delaware voters say that Biden would make a good president.
While they may not think that Biden would make a good president, they also don’t think there is much chance of that. Only 4% of voters rate his chances of being the Democratic nominee as “excellent,” while 50% rate his chances as “poor,” up from 39% in February. They are a bit more optimistic about his chances of being chosen as the Vice-Presidential nominee, with 33% saying that his chances are “excellent” or “good,” though even that figure is down from 40% in February.
Biden does a bit better when Democrats are asked for their second choice in the race for the nomination. One in four (26%) Democrats say that he is their second choice, better than the one in five for Clinton, Obama and Edwards.
“Any candidate, especially one trying to move up from the second tier, needs to be able to count on the support of their home state, especially if it has an early primary,” said Cassino. “People approve of Biden, but many of his potential supporters in Delaware seem convinced that he can’t win, and that’s hurting him.”
Without a favored son in the race for the Republican nomination, Delaware mirrors trends in other mid-Atlantic states. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has the support of 37% of Republicans, with Fred Thomson (13%), John McCain (14%), and Mitt Romney (10%) all in a distant statistical tie for second, though 21% of Republicans remain undecided.
While approval of President Bush and the war in Iraq have rebounded nationally, Delaware voters remain pessimistic. The 20% of Delaware voters who say that the country is moving in the right direction is unchanged from earlier this year, and not significantly different from 24% one year ago. Similarly, just 32% of Delaware voters say that invading Iraq was the right thing to do, unchanged over the last year. At the same time, approval of the President has dropped significantly. Only 29% of Delaware voters now approve of the job President Bush is doing, down from 35% early in the year, and 37% last October. Moreover, the President’s approval among Delaware voters continues to sag despite that 38% of Delaware voters now say the war is going “very” or “fairly well,” up from 29% in February, and 30% one year ago.
“Generally, people’s views of the President and the war track closely together,” said Cassino. “The fact that First Staters aren’t any more positive about the President, even as they see progress in Iraq, suggests they are fatigued by him on many issues, not just the war.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 700 randomly selected registered voters statewide in Delaware was conducted by telephone from October 3 through October 9 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. This sample includes 398 Democrats for which the MoE is +/- 5 percentage points and 277 Republicans for which the MoE is +/- 6 percentage points.
Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239 Dan Cassino 973.896.7072
For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.