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Biden saying he’d only serve one term would be an Election Day risk with little reward, new Insider poll shows

Former Vice President Joe Biden could take a significant hit with US voters if he pledges to only serve one-term in the event he becomes the 2020 Democratic nominee and defeats President Donald Trump, according to an Insider poll.

Biden, 77, who has said he's “not sure” he'd even be running if Trump wasn't president, has reportedly signaled to campaign aides he would only serve one term, according to a recent Politico report. Last Wednesday, in response to the report, the former vice president publicly denied any plans to only serve one term if elected.

In most elections, a candidate running on a pledge to serve just one term could be disqualifying. But in the Trump era, with voters heavily entrenched and partisanship at historic levels, a candidate perceived as having the best shot of defeating the incumbent could potentially get away with it.

But Insider polling suggests it could affect Biden's chances on Election Day.

Insider asked voters: “If Joe Biden said he intended to serve just one term if elected to the presidency, would that change your view of his candidacy?” The poll ran from December 13-14, and had 1,071 respondents, of whom 438 said that they were registered to vote and intended to participate in their state's Democratic primary.

Among self-identified Democratic voters, about 11% said they would be less likely or much less likely to vote for Biden if he pledges to only serve one term. At the same time, about 14% said the would be much more likely or more likely to vote for Biden in these circumstances.

Meanwhile, roughly 66% of voters said it would not change the likelihood they vote for Biden.

Still, this decision would be a wash in any general election. Among respondents who said they were registered to vote at all, 13% would be more likely to support him, 13% would be less likely to do so and 60% would not change the likelihood. It's a risky gamble with no obvious upside for the former Vice President given the considerable concession such a declaration would be.

So why float it out there? Among those Democratic primary voters aged 18 to 29, 15% would be more likely to vote for him compared to just 9% who'd be less likely to, a significant 6 percentage point net difference. Biden is very weak among younger Democrats, which may have been a motivation for the campaign to entertain the possibility.

Among the 219 respondents who said they were registered to vote but haven't yet made up their mind about who they'll support in the presidential election next year, just 5% said they'd be less likely to back Biden, while 12% said they'd be more likely to were he to announce he'd be a one-term president.

Overall, Biden would seemingly risk losing much more than he'd gain from announcing his intention to serve one term, regardless of the fact Trump has a low approval rating and is poised to be impeached in the House.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,071 respondents collected December 13-14, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.09 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

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