Do Biden’s early poll numbers indicate a lasting lead?

Is it time for former Vice President Joe Biden to secure the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential race? Early polling indicates yes on the one hand, but on the other, early polling does not paint a detailed enough picture. Salon’s Amanda Marcotte spoke with professor of political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kenneth Mayer, on “Salon Talks” about Biden’s standing as the Democrats’ front-runner.

“At this point in the race, the available information indicates that, yeah, Biden is the front-runner, but front-runners don't always win,” Mayer said. With such a deep race featuring 24 candidates, there’s little data that can be used as a precedent for predicting the race.

“If you were to take this race with the information you have and could somehow simulate the race a thousand times, it's possible that Biden would win in a majority of them,” Mayer says. But go back only one election cycle to 2016, you’ll see a long-shot candidate in the Republican party rise up, Donald Trump. Mayer notes the analysis on Trump as a candidate, “virtually nobody who thought that he was even a realistic candidate, but a credible candidate, and now, he dispatched a field that was comprised of current and former senators, current and former governors, people who had achieved notoriety.”

So with such an unorthodox race, Mayer says, “I don't know what the empirical evidence which suggests that a candidate who is in the lead with 38 percent of the vote, how much that means.”

Watch the video above to learn more about what Biden’s lead means for the Democratic party. And check out the full episode to hear Mayer break down why early polling can be deceiving.

About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on

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