A Lot of Democrats Would Really Rather Have a Nominee Who Isn’t Joe Biden

Biden categorically denied an allegation of sexual assault last week, and voters are evenly split over whether his denial is credible.
May 5, 2020, 2:40pm
biden reade poll
Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)

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A new poll shows that after hearing Joe Biden’s staunch denial that he assaulted Tara Reade, a significant minority of people in his own party are skeptical that the former vp should be the Democratic nominee.

Reade, a Biden aide in the 1990s when he was a Delaware senator, alleged in March that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993. Last week, Biden went on television for the first time to publicly deny the allegations, telling MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: “I’m saying unequivocally that it never, never happened. It didn’t, and it never happened.”

The Morning Consult poll found registered voters evenly split over whether they found Biden’s denial “credible,” but among Democrats — Biden’s friendliest constituency — 61% found the denial at least somewhat credible.

Women and younger voters were less likely than men and older voters to find the denial credible, however; more than one in five Democrats under the age of 45 and Democratic women — a key constituency that boosted the party to success in the 2018 midterms— found Biden’s denial at least “not that credible.”

Those voters are the likeliest to say the party should replace Biden as the Democratic nominee: 40% of Democrats under the age of 45 think the party should go with someone else, and 28% of Democratic women — as opposed to 24% of Democratic men — think Biden should be replaced on the ticket.

Respondents to the poll were shown a 35-second snippet from Biden’s interview with Brzezinski, according to Morning Consult.

While Biden’s support looks surprisingly rocky among Democrats, it seems like most voters just don’t see allegations of sexual misconduct as the deal-breaker they once were. While 56% of all voters said in December 2017 that elected officials should resign when credibly accused of sexual misconduct, now just 38% of voters feel the same way. Among Democrats, the number has plummeted from 62% to 42%.

When the #MeToo movement began, several national politicians resigned or chose not to run for reelection. The most high-profile was former Sen. Al Franken, who was accused of sexually harassing eight women over the course of several years. Franken has since said he regrets resigning.

Despite the uneasiness from rank-and-file Democrats, those who’ve endorsed Biden continue to stand behind him. “[Tara Reade] has come forward, she has spoken, and they have done an investigation in several outlets,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who led the effort to pressure Franken to resign, said of Reade’s claims last week. “Those investigations, Vice President Biden has called for himself. Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations, and I support Vice President Biden.”

And while former presidential contender and Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Monday that said she “appreciates the reports of what Miss Reade said,” the longtime Biden rival, who slammed Michael Bloomberg over sexual harassment allegations during the primary, denied that it affected her support of Biden.

"I support the vice president, I support his campaign, and I'm proud to endorse him for president," Warren said.

Cover: Former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks while his wife, Jill Biden, left, stands during the Jill and Joe Biden 2020 Super Tuesday Los Angeles Rally held at the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center on March 3, 2020 in Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

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