Release Date: October 21, 2015
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Months of speculation ended on Wednesday when Vice President Joe Biden announced he will not run for president in 2016.
Though Biden made it official in the Rose Garden, he most likely started to question a campaign after the first Democratic debate earlier this month, according to Jacob Neiheisel, University at Buffalo professor of political science.
Hillary Clinton’s strong debate performance, coupled with the fact that Biden has been grieving the loss of his son Beau, tipped the scale, Neiheisel said.
“If Clinton had performed poorly, there might have been room for him to run,” says Neiheisel, who studies political communication and behavior. “Given that Biden is perceived as occupying roughly the same ideological space as Clinton, it’s difficult to say what he could have offered to primary voters apart from trumpeting his candidacy as not bringing with it the kind of baggage that comes with Clinton.”
It is now that baggage – and pretty much just that baggage alone – that can stop Clinton from winning the primary, Neiheisel says.
With Biden out of the picture, Clinton can now run to the left during the primaries to pick up supporters of Bernie Sanders, and then, during the general election, she can run a bit more to the middle, he said.
James Campbell, UB distinguished professor of political science, agrees that with Biden out it is Clinton’s nomination to lose.
“Clinton’s biggest obstacles right now are herself and what comes out of the Benghazi hearings,” says Campbell, a nationally known election forecaster. “I think her secondary concerns are her opponents. Stranger things have happened, but I don’t think there is a viable challenger to Clinton on the Democrats' side."