What's baffling, then, is why Biden hasn't budged in the polls while most of his competitors have. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News Poll put him last in a field of seven active Democrats. In an Iowa poll taken after Gary Hart's withdrawal, Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, who has practically moved into the state, jumped from 9 to 24 percent; former governor Bruce Babbitt of Arizona, who has been running unprecedented early television ads, moved from 3 to 6 percent; and Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts moved from 4 to 11 percent. Biden held firm at 1 percent.
Biden supporters admit they are not so much offering a specific agenda as a candidate with family values, political passion and optimism. His detractors say this makes his campaign short on substance. The New Republic recently dubbed him "Ronald Biden." And Mario Cuomo, not a noted Biden fan, has warned him he may have a "dumb blond" problem.
Field organizers have complained that Biden has not been spending enough time on the road. Activists in both Iowa and New Hampshire grouse about weak statewide organizations. They also say that when Biden does come courting, staff follow-up is inexcusably slow.
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