Biden Trails Early in Home State

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In the First State, Delaware Senator Joe Biden polls behind national leader Hillary Clinton by 13 points and is tied with Illinois Senator Barack Obama.  While Biden is doing better in his home state than in national polls, only one in four Delawareans think his chances of winning the nomination are good, and 47% say he would not make a good president.

According to the most recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, the Democratic contenders are led by Hillary Clinton with 34%, followed by Biden with 21% and Obama with 19%. Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards trails with just 10%. Other candidates – Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, and Chris Dodd – attract statistically insignificant support among Delaware Democrats.

With a primary election tentatively set for February 5 of next year, Delaware will be one of the first states to cast votes for Republican and Democratic nominees for president.  “An early primary means Delaware may have a great deal more influence on the campaign than in previous years, and this has to be one of the things Biden is counting on to increase his chances for the nomination,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and survey analyst with PublicMind. “As a favored son, Biden is expected to win his state handily – if he doesn't, he could be in serious trouble.”

Delaware looks like fertile ground for a Biden campaign. Overall, he has 94% name recognition and 60% of respondents hold a favorable opinion of him, including three of four Democrats (76%) and one in three (37%) Republicans.  However, only 36% of all voters – and fewer than half of Democrats (47%) – think he would make a good president. Moreover, three out of four voters in Delaware (74%) rate his chances of getting the nomination as either “only fair” or “poor.” Voters are more optimistic about his chances of getting the nod for the number two post: 40% of all voters, and half of Democrats (51%), say his chances of being picked for Vice-President are “good” or “excellent.”

The poll also shows surprisingly little difference between the preferences of white and non-white Democrats. Among both groups, Clinton leads, with Biden and Obama essentially tied for second, and Edwards trailing.

However, results indicate Obama does substantially better than Clinton among highly educated Democrats. Among Democrats with graduate education, Obama leads, with Clinton in second place, and Biden and Edwards tied for third. But Democrats without a college degree place Hillary in first, followed by Biden, with Obama and Edwards trailing together.

“Obama's support among highly educated Democrats is a trend we've seen throughout the country. Voters with more education are generally more likely to vote in primary elections, so their choice can be more important than their small numbers suggest,” said Cassino.

Meanwhile, President Bush's approval rating in the First State remains upside-down with 35% of voters approving of the job he is doing as president and 58% disapproving, essentially unchanged since the mid-term campaign season.  Other indicators are grimmer for the President: only 20% say the nation is on the right track, and only 29% say that the conflict in Iraq is going very well or fairly well, while 68% say that it is not going well.

The poll of 618 randomly selected registered voters statewide was conducted by telephone from February 20 through February 25 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239; Dan Cassino 973.896.7072

For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.

Copyright © 2007, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved. FDU PublicMind Poll [Latest update 070301]