Will he or won’t he? Vice President Joe Biden’s potential presidential run has been a huge question looming over the campaign. Biden finally announced that no, he is not running for president. Biden had expressed reservations, unsure if his family was ready to weather a campaign or if he was emotionally ready following his son Beau Biden’s death in May. But he was polling well against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. If he had decided to enter at this point, he would have had a tougher road ahead of him.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Biden Expressed Uncertainty Following His Son’s Death And Ultimately Decided Not to Run
Biden had expressed uncertainty about running, saying that he just wasn’t sure if his family was emotionally ready or if his heart was in it following his son Beau Biden’s death in May, Time reported. But some officials suspected that Biden was floating trial balloons and working with the Draft Biden Super PAC to see if a presidential race was feasible. Politico claimed that Biden was behind a story that leaked information about his son Beau telling him that he should run for president. Biden, however, was fiercely angered by that allegation, calling the allegation “offensive.”
Ultimately, Biden decided not to run for President, saying that the window for running had closed.
2. A Congressman Was Absolutely Certain He Was Going to Run
A few days before Biden announced that he was not running, U.S. Representative Brendan Doyle has announced that a source confirmed to him that Joe Biden would be running for president. Biden’s camp had said that he would make a decision about running for president by October or November, Bloomberg reported, which he did. There was speculation that Biden was biding his time, possibly waiting in the wings to be the main candidate if Clinton’s campaign falls apart.
Meanwhile, political experts weighed in on both sides of the debate while waiting for Biden’s decision. For example, political scientist Daniel Drezner wrote in The Washington Post that he was willing to bet Biden would not run. On the same day, Politico ran a story that New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is willing to bet that Biden will run. Essentially, no one really knows.
3. He Was Doing Well in the Polls & Ranked Favorably Against Republicans
Biden was polling well before he decided not to run, although Clinton was still leading. About half of Democrats wanted Biden to run, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Newsweek reported. Another recent poll found that Clinton still led with 46 percent, Sanders placing second, and Biden placing third, CBS News reported. Biden’s presence was keeping Clinton from having a huge lead ahead of Sanders, as many people who would support her prefer Biden.
A recent Fox News poll, however, put Biden in a more favorable light. The poll still showed Clinton leading against Biden and Sanders. But when placed up against Republican front-runners and asked who they would vote for in a presidential election, respondents favored Biden more than Clinton. Only 39 to 40 percent would vote for Clinton against leading Republican candidates. But 44 to 50 percent would vote for Biden against leading Republican candidates.
4. Latecomers May Get an Announcement Boost but Historically Have a Tough Time in Presidential Elections
Historically, latecomers to the presidential election sometimes get a boost in the polls when they make their announcement. But the costs of coming in so late, including how tough it can be to raise funds, may outweigh the brief polling boost, FiveThirtyEight reported. Rick Perry got a big announcement boost when he entered the election late in 2012, but his own blunders during the debates caused him to lose that ground he had gained. Fred Thompson got a slight bump when he announced in 2008, but his poll ranking quickly plummeted.
5. He Had Some Issues With the Draft Biden Super-PAC
The Draft Biden Super PAC was laying the groundwork for Joe Biden’s campaign, working tirelessly for the potential candidate. Volunteers were already calling early primary states, extolling Biden’s virtues and character, but carefully avoiding his stance on issues, The Guardian reported. The PAC raised at least $2.5 to $3 million to pay for directors in early primary states, communications advisers, and field organizers to run teams of volunteers. Jon Cooper, an Obama fundraiser who’s the national finance chair for Draft Biden, told the Guardian that they were ready:
The minute he enters that race, the dam is going to burst and there is going to be a flood of support for Biden…”
If Biden decided to run for president, he may not have worked with the Draft Biden Super PAC. Politico reported that Biden may ditch the Super PAC after it made an ad that Biden felt exploited the tragedy of his wife’s and daughter’s deaths. You can watch that ad here.