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Florida Insiders predict the Democratic nominee: It’s Joe Biden

But watch out for Michael Bloomberg.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Somersworth, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Somersworth, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) [ ELISE AMENDOLA | AP ]
Published Feb. 6, 2020
Updated Feb. 14, 2020

Joe Biden called his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses a “gut punch." Here’s some news that might pick up the spirits of the former vice president: the Florida Insiders still think he has the best chance of winning the Democratic primary.

The Tampa Bay Times asked its roster of politicos, campaign insiders, lobbyists, fundraisers, former elected leaders and other experts to predict who will be the Democratic nominee for president. The top choice, with almost half the vote, was clear: It’s Biden.

Biden remains so competitive because he still has name recognition and plenty of good will from his eight years serving as President Barack Obama’s No. 2. He’s also the only candidate consistently polling well among African American voters. Until someone demonstrates they can win states where diversity is measured in something other than shades of pale, that will be a strong selling point for Biden.

This is where the Times discloses that the track record of the Insiders is, uh, mixed. They may be sharp and plugged-in, but it turns out guessing how the votes will fall isn’t easy. If it was, Florida would have a governor Andrew Gillum right now. All of that is to say, Biden shouldn’t start picking out drapes in the Oval Office.

Back to the poll results.

Ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s flashy, late entrance into the presidential race has clearly caught the attention of some people. One-in-four Insiders believe Bloomberg — who is not even on the ballot in any states until March — can pull off the improbable upset. Is it the campaign ads swaying them, the $60 billion he has in the bank or the fact President Donald Trump can’t seem to stop talking about him?

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders received 17 percent of the vote, the third most of any candidate. That’s about the same number of votes he received when we put the same question to the Insiders a year ago. At the time, Bloomberg wasn’t between him and Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris was. Harris has long since dropped out of the race, while Sanders finished in the top 2 in the Iowa caucuses.

Just five Insiders think the potential Iowa winner, ex-South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg will carry that momentum all the way to Milwaukee.

Perhaps most shocking is how few Insiders foresee the nominee as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a top-tier candidate. She received just one vote, from a Democrat, the same amount as millionaire businessman Tom Steyer and “Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama...I believe it will be a floor effort at convention."

It’s possible Warren was the second choice of many, just as she apparently was in the Iowa caucuses, but there’s no way to know. There is not a second realignment in the Florida Insider poll.

This month, 155 people responded to the Florida Insider Poll — 48 percent Republicans, 40 percent Democrats and 12 percent no-party affiliation/other. The survey participants were:

Erin Aebel, Tom Alte, Jason Altmire, Fernand Amandi, Scott Arceneaux, Donna Arduin, Dave Aronberg, Brad Ashwell, Rick Asnani, Jon M. Ausman, Ryan Banfill, Scott Barnhart, Ashley Bauman, Geoffrey Becker, Samuel Bell, Taylor Biehl, Ron Bilbao, Greg Blair, Katie Bohnett, Paul Bradshaw, Alex Burgos, Dominic M. Calabro, Kristy Campbell, Tim Canova, Chip Case, Gabriela Castillo, Betty Castor, Kevin Cate, Alan Clendenin, Gus Corbella, Brian Crowley. Husein Cumber, Carlos Curbelo, David Custin, Justin Day, Ingrid Delgado, Hayden Dempsey, Richard DeNapoli, Pablo Diaz, Victor DiMaio, Tony DiMatteo, Michael Dobson, Paula Dockery, Doc Dockery, John Dowless, Bob Doyle, Pete Dunbar, Barry Edwards, Eric Eikenberg, Peter Feaman, Mark Ferrulo, Damien Filer, Marty Fiorentino, Mark Foley, Towson Fraser, John French, Tom Gaitens, Wayne Garcia, Stephen Gaskill, Josh Geise, Steve Geller, Richard Gentry, Susan Glickman, Susan Goldstein, Alma Gonzalez, Bob Graham, Ron Greenstein , Joe Gruters, Ralph Haben, Mike Hamby, Marion Hammer, Mike Hanna, Abel Harding, Jack Hebert, Rich Heffley, Bill Helmich, Cynthia Henderson, Laura Hernandez, Jim Horne, Tyler Hudson, Yolanda Jackson, Aubrey Jewett, Jeff Johnson, David Johnson, Christina Johnson, Stafford Jones, Eric Jotkoff, Doug Kaplan, Fred Karlinsky, Henry Kelley, Chris Kise, John Konkus, Chris Korge, Kartik Krishnaiyer, Bill Lee, Jackie Lee, Alan Levine, Shannon Love, Susan MacManus, Al Maloof, Javier Manjarres, Roly Marante, William March, Daniela Martins, Nancy McGowan, Kathy Mears, David Mica, Jamie Miller, Paul Mitchell, Lucy Morgan, John Morgan , Pat Neal, Samuel Neimeiser, Meredith O’Rourke, Alex Patton, Darryl Paulson, Jorge Pedraza, Scott Peelen, Juan Penalosa, Evelyn Perez-Verdia, Ron Pierce, JC Planas, Evan Power, Ryan Ray, George Riley, Jim Rimes, Patrick Roberts, Ron Sachs, Steven Schale, Tom Scherberger, Stephen Shiver , Patrick Slevin, Stephanie Smith, John Stemberger, Alan Stonecipher, Nancy Ann Texeira, Phillip Thompson, Cory Tilley, Frank Tsamoutales, Ryan Tyson, Christian Ulvert, Jason Unger, Matthew Van Name, Ashley Walker, Peter Wallace, Nancy Watkins, Jonathan Webber, Susie Wiles, Marley Wilkes, Rick Wilson, Gregory Wilson, Jon Woodard, Zachariah Zachariah, Christian Ziegler, Mark Zubaly