FiveThirtyEight senior political writer Clare Malone discussed the current campaigns of the 2020 Democratic candidates at the Discovery Building Wednesday night. 

Joe Biden has been leading in the polls since entering the Democratic primary, as he has the most name recognition. As the front-runner, Biden’s major strength lies with the support he receives from black voters, Malone said. 

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Malone said Biden’s former position as Obama’s Vice President helped him win this support from black voters. 

“There is a sense that if Biden was good enough for Obama on race and these racial records over the past few decades in the Senate, then he is good enough for black voters … and that’s really something that the campaign is eager to play off,” Malone said.

Malone also said that while Biden is still leading in the national polling average, polls for Elizabeth Warren have been on a steady rise.

Malone said there was a polling bump for Warren in June and another bump in September. Malone said the newly released polling results available on the FiveThirtyEight website show that in Iowa Warren is beating Biden by 2% and Bernie Sanders by 11%.

New Hampshire had similar polling numbers, which is important because these two states are the first to vote, Malone said.

“They hold a lot of weight because they come first in the cycle and they drive momentum, and they can drive new cycles and influence voters from later states,” Malone said. “The formation of a perception of a winner is a really powerful thing.”

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In the second and third weeks of September, Sanders consistently received less media coverage than both Biden and Warren, Malone said.

On top of this lack of coverage, Sanders’ recent hospitalization was “a worrisome event on a human level,” and could have impacts on the political race, Malone said. 

“I think this X factor, which is basically age and health, is important to talk about even though it may be a little bit difficult because of the particular dynamics of the 2020 race,” Malone said. “I don’t think it’s an entirely irrational move for a voter to consider age when casting their ballots.” 

Before the end of her talk, Malone said the months leading up to the upcoming election may be an uncertain time due to the current discussion about impeachment, and it is likely going to be a “public relations campaign of who can communicate their side of the story best,” Malone said.