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Would Biden Have Been The Best President?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden in a recent interview said he “would have been the best president” had he chosen to run in 2016, but most voters disagree.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 21% of Likely U.S. Voters agree that Biden would have been the best president if he had run in this year’s election. Fifty-six percent (56%) disagree, but a sizable 23% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Even among voters in his own political party, only 26% think Biden would have made the best president. Forty-five percent (45%) of Democrats don’t think Biden would have been the best commander in chief, while 29% are not sure. Just 18% of Republicans and 17% of voters not affiliated with either major political party agree with the vice president’s statement.

When Biden was still considering entering the 2016 race last September, 38% of Democrats thought he should run, but 39% disagreed.  Twenty-two percent (22%) were undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 11-12, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

The idea that Biden should jump into the race came from Democrats who worried that the controversies surrounding now presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton were hurting her chances for the presidency. Last August, however, 44% of Democrats believed Clinton would be the better president than Biden, while 32% said Biden would do a better job. Twenty-four percent (24%) were undecided.

Twenty-four percent (24%) of men believe Biden would have made the best president, compared to 17% of women, but women are more likely to be undecided. Most men and women disagree with the vice president.

While most white voters (63%) say Biden would not have been the best president, black voters are much more closely divided: 34% said he would have made the best president; 30% disagree, and 37% are undecided. Among other minority voters, just 28% think Biden would have made the best commander in chief; 39% disagree, while 33% are not sure.

Younger voters are slightly more likely than their elders to agree with Biden’s comment.

Among voters who Strongly Approve of President Obama’s job performance, 30% think Biden would have made the best president, while 40% disagree. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of voters who Strongly Disapprove of the job the president is doing say Biden would not have made the best president.

As late as October, 67% of Democrats - and 69% of all voters - thought it was at least somewhat likely that Biden would run for the Democratic nomination.

In August, 67% of Democratic voters viewed the vice president favorably, including 29% with a Very Favorable opinion of him. Forty-five percent (45%) of all voters held a favorable opinion of Biden, but slightly more (48%) viewed him unfavorably.

The media may portray Bernie Sanders as a continuing political threat to Clinton, but voters aren’t buying: They remain overwhelmingly convinced that Clinton is the likely Democratic presidential nominee for 2016.

Sanders’ unexpected success in the 2016 presidential campaign has exposed the growing rift between the Democratic party establishment and the party’s more progressive wing. Still, Democratic voters are more likely than voters in general to think their party should identify with Clinton rather than Sanders.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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