Vice President Joe Biden saw his numbers climb in a new Bloomberg Politics poll of Democratic voters and independent voters leaning Democrat Wednesday morning. Even though the vice president has not announced whether he will enter the 2016 presidential race, 25 percent of voters said he is their first choice candidate. Hillary Clinton earned a plurality of 33 percent, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came in third with 24 percent.
Biden took a strong lead in favorability, with 80 percent of voters saying they have a favorable view of him and 14 percent holding an unfavorable view. Clinton polled 70 to 25 in favorability, and Sanders had 56 to 9 percent. Sanders had the lowest unfavorable percentage, with 35 percent of voters saying they were unsure what to think of the candidate.
A plurality of voters -- 47 percent -- also said they want Biden to enter the race, compared to 37 percent that said they prefer he stay out and 15 percent who are not sure. The poll was conducted Sept. 18-21 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, and is based on interviews with 375 Democrats and Democratic leaners. The margin of error was 5.1 percent.
When asked about candidates already in the race, Democratic voters and Democratic leaners said they could most realistically see Clinton and Jeb Bush as president of the United States. They expressed more skepticism of Republican front-runner Donald Trump -- only 29 percent said they could see him taking the role -- and of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (30 percent said they could see him in the White House).
Speculation about whether Biden will run in 2016 increased over the summer and has continued in recent weeks. Supporters and staffers have spoken to various media outlets, hinting alternatively at a run and that he will ultimately stay out of the race. But Biden said recently that he has not yet made up his mind.
In a Sept. 17 interview with America magazine, Biden said he has to decide if this is his moment and if a run would be the best choice for his family. "We’re just not there yet and may not get there in time to make it feasible to be able to run and succeed because there are certain windows that will close. But if that’s it, that’s it. But it’s not like I can rush it. It’s not like it either happens or it doesn’t happen. I know that’s not satisfying to anybody, but people who have been there, I know they understand," Biden said.