What once was virtually unthinkable has now become a reality: former Vice President Joe Biden has lost his seemingly-insurmountable lead in the Democratic presidential primary.
Five short months ago, Biden had an almost overwhelming advantage in the intra-party contest. RealClearPolitics showed that he was pulling, on average, 41.5 percent in the polls, giving him a comfortable 27-point lead over his nearest opponent, who was at the time Vermont's socialist senator, Bernie Sanders.
Now, multiple polls released this week show that Biden actually trails the new Democratic front runner, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
And the state-by-state polling might be even worse.
The first blip in Biden's previously-invincible national lead came two weeks ago, when Quinnipiac released a poll showing Warren in the national lead by 2 points. This was the first poll taken since the start of the race that did not have Biden in at least a tie for the lead, including polls that were taken before he even announced his candidacy. Still, however, it was dismissed by many as an outlier, since other subsequent polls were released that showed Biden with relatively comfortable double digit leads.
However, two new polls released this week confirmed what many have felt to be inevitable for weeks: Warren doesn't just have the momentum, she also has the lead.
The first, released Wednesday by Monmouth University, shows Warren leading Biden by 3 points. The same day, the Economist/YouGov tracking poll showed Warren leading a fading Biden by an astounding 6 points.
Warren's turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable, given that her campaign was once virtually left for dead after being criticized for starting too early, and after its rollout was marred by widespread embarrassment over her DNA test debacle. But since May, when she was polling at a paltry 8 percent, Warren has slowly and steadily climbed to the front of the pack, climbing over Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris in the process.
Biden's recent swoon, which began after a scandal erupted in Washington, D.C., over revelations that President Donald Trump attempted to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden for his involvement in a Ukrainian natural gas company, may reflect the reality that Democrats believe the impeachment investigation will be the biggest story in 2020, and may reflect an unwillingness to muddy the waters at the ballot box by nominating someone who is at least potentially implicated in the scandal (even though most Democrats believe that Biden did not do anything wrong).
Thus, if early general election polling is to be believed, it seems that the main effect of the impeachment inquiry thus far has been to damage Trump's most dangerous Democratic opponent (Biden) at the expense of elevating Warren, who has consistently fared worse in head-to-head polling against Trump than either Biden or Sanders.