Vice President Biden, speaking to ABC on Wednesday, repeated the threat that's keeping Hillary Rodham Clinton up at night. "Yes, there is a chance" that he might run for president in 2016, he told George Stephanopoulos. "But I haven’t made my mind up about that."
The first elections to determine the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in 2016 are still a year away, meaning that polling at this point offers an incomplete and almost indisputably inaccurate picture of what's going to happen. But what the polling shows is that Biden has essentially zero chance of winning.
This is the big trend.
But in the details, the picture isn't better. Last month, CNN asked voters whom they'd pick in the Democratic contest. Eight percent said Biden, down from nine percent in November. Clinton edged him out by a slim 58 percentage points.
Biden already has one of the things that's supposed to give you a boost in the polls: name recognition. Granted, that recognition may not be as robust as you might think, but it should offer him enough of an increase that, even in a contest against a tough competitor, he makes a statement. (The same survey had former Florida governor Jeb Bush leading the Republicans, probably not solely because of his record in that state.) But Biden trails badly.
In fact, he came in third, behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). You know who Warren is, because you're 300 words into an article about an election that's a year away. It is safe to say that many Americans do not. He beats former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley (D), but that's not going to be much consolation, unless Clinton and Warren stay out.
Which is maybe the plan? "Yes, there is a chance I will run, George, if the person who is prepared to have this locked up by Jan. 31, 2016, decides that she'd rather just stay home in Chappaqua and be a millionaire" might be what Biden is really saying.
Why do we go through this? Because politicians. There's a timeline in some political universe in which Barack Obama doesn't pick Biden as his running mate in 2008, and Biden's days are spent riding the Amtrak and playing Joe Kennedy to his son Beau. But Biden has been in the White House for six years, and we have to think that it's a taste that grows on you.