It’s no secret that Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign would be long gone or would never have happened without his eight years as Barack Obama’s vice-president. His relationship with the 44th president has been particularly crucial to his support from African-American voters, who appear likely to lift him back into contention in this weekend’s South Carolina primary. There’s even a fiction series featuring Obama and Biden as crime-fighting buddies.
Michael Bloomberg will never have that sort of claim to a BFF connection with Obama, but in the vast sea of ads he’s been buying to promote his candidacy, the former president is very evident:
Obama’s regular protestations of strict neutrality in the nominating contest notwithstanding, all these assertions of close associations have definitely made an impression on voters, as Morning Consult reports from its polling:
The Feb. 20-23 survey found 3 in 5 registered Democrats who indicated they may vote in the primary or caucus in their state believe Obama has endorsed at least one candidate in the eight-way race for the party’s nomination.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (26 percent) and former Vice President Joe Biden (25 percent) were the most likely beneficiaries of the false perception that Obama had endorsed someone. The effect was mirrored among people who said they voted for Obama in 2012 and heightened among black voters, who were more likely than others to say Obama was backing a candidate.
There may be some element of wishful thinking here, because another 10 percent of likely Democratic primary voters think Obama has endorsed Bernie Sanders. But you do have to figure the blatant Biden and Bloomberg efforts to commandeer Obama’s image have to some extent succeeded. And if Obama does endorse a candidate before the convention, he may have to undo some of the impressions his “friends” have created.