This article appeared online at on Thursday, October 24, 2019: 

presidential candidate Joe Biden’s surprising rebound in recent polls has caught many by surprise. Burdened with his history of lying, corruption, flip-flopping on key issues, age, and mental decrepitude, many considered his campaign all but over.

For example, considered that Biden’s poor performance during last week’s debate might have been his Waterloo. But of the eight polls taken in the last nine days, Biden regained his footing in seven of them and now, according to Real Clear Politics, leads Elizabeth Warren by more than five points.

What has changed? He’s still male, pale, and stale. He’s still prone to gaffes but skilled at disingenuousness when it comes to the Ukraine scandal that won’t go away. He still isn’t generating much enthusiasm from small donors, and he still has far fewer dollars in his war chest than his nearest competitors.

It appears that some big donors have decided that of all the candidates vying for the Party’s nomination, Biden is the cleanest dirty shirt on the line. Sanders and Warren are too far left, and Biden is more likeable than his nearest challenger. In a recent poll on likeability conducted by Gallup, Biden’s favorability rating at 69 was a full 10 points ahead of Warren’s 59.

Accordingly, Biden has been focusing his attention on them. In just the last week he has held four high-dollar fundraisers in New York City; in Pennsylvania; and in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he was hosted by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and flanked by former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd.

It may not be enough, however, as many of those “high-dollar” donors are having second thoughts about supporting any of the contenders. CNBC recently spoke off the record with several of those donors and fundraisers and learned that many are considering sitting out the 2020 campaign altogether, giving Trump a second term. Said one senior equity executive (who only spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by Party leaders), “You’re in a box because you’re a Democrat and you’re thinking, ‘I want to help the party, but [Warren’s] going to hurt me, so I’m going to help President Trump.’”

John Coale, a major donor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, has given up altogether: “They [the Democrats] don’t have anybody who can win the general election.”

James Carville, ’s campaign advisor, got it mostly right when he coined Clinton’s slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid!” In addition to a strong the rest of the electable equation in 2020 will be likeability. Even though Biden is much more likeable than Elizabeth Warren, he still (according to Gallup) lags Trump in that department by three points.

Given the health of the and the lack of any Democrat candidate with the capability of successfully challenging Trump in the general election next year, the polls appear to be defaulting back to Biden while “high-dollar” Democrat donors are considering sitting this one out.

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