Half of Democrats want Biden in race: Reuters/Ipsos poll

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Half of U.S. Democrats Want Biden to Run for President

The drumbeat for Joe Biden to jump into the 2016 presidential race is growing louder.

Almost half of the nation's Democrats want the vice president to enter the field and challenge front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The results come as speculation surrounding Biden's intentions has intensified, with reports having him close to a decision. The declared Democratic presidential candidates, including Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her closest rival, will take the stage Tuesday night in Las Vegas for the first party debate.

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Biden will not be there, but 48 percent of Democrats surveyed in the Reuters poll wish he were a candidate, compared with 30 percent who said he should stay out. Independents were split on the question, with 36 percent saying Biden should stay in and an equal share believing otherwise.

But support for Biden's entry into the race does not translate into equal passion for his candidacy. Just 17 percent of those surveyed said Biden would be their first choice, while 46 percent would back Clinton. Biden would also run behind Sanders, who remains the favorite of one fourth of Democrats surveyed.

Photos of Joe Biden as he considers a presidential run:

13 PHOTOS
Joe Biden as he mulls over a presidential run
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Half of Democrats want Biden in race: Reuters/Ipsos poll
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a White House Champions of Change Law Enforcement and Youth meeting, in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. CNN said Monday, Sept. 28, 2015, it will allow Biden to participate in the first Democratic presidential primary debate even if he decides that day to be a candidate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Solar Power International Trade Show in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Taking aim at his potential political opponents, Biden railed against Republicans who "deny climate change" and want to shut down the federal government over funding for Planned Parenthood, and pleaded with them to "just get out of the way." (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Stephen talks with Vice President Joe Biden, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Thursday Sept 10, 2015 on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images)
In this Sept. 10, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a labor rally in New York. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this Sept. 7, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden, center, greets some of the crowd as he walks in the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this Sept. 7, 2015, photo, a crowd gathers, many wearing union shirts, in front of Vice President Joe Biden as he speaks before joining in the annual Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh. Hearing chants of "run Joe, run," Biden marched in Pittsburgh's annual Labor Day parade on Monday as speculation swirled about a potential late entry into the Democratic presidential campaign. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Vice President Joe Biden puts on a United Steelworkers hat before he spoke to a crowd before he joined in the annual Labor Day parade on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
In this Sept. 10, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in New York. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
In this Sept. 4, 2015, photo, Vice President Joe Biden, right, stands in the Oval Office of the White House during a meeting between President Barack Obama and King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Washington. In one minute, Biden seems like a presidential candidate-in-waiting, eating up adoration from die-hard supporters who are pleading with him to run. The next minute, he seems light-years away from convincing himself he’s ready to run _ a man still reeling from personal tragedy. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Vice President Joe Biden discusses the Iran nuclear deal with Jewish community leaders at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie, Fla. on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Biden sought to allay concerns of South Florida Jewish leaders who fear Iran won too many concessions in the agreement, which seeks to curb the country's nuclear program in exchange for hundreds of billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
FILE - In this July 21, 2015, file photo, Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a roundtable discussion at the Advanced Manufacturing Center at Community College of Denver. Although Biden is considering whether to enter the presidential race, he skipped this week’s Democratic National Committee summer meeting. Doing so created an opening for front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to consolidate her party’s support. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
FILE - In this May 26, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden listens to remarks to the media during a meeting between President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Although Biden has yet to make a decision on a run for the presidency, his advisers say the discussions taking form in the last several weeks are serious enough that the vice president and his associates have started gaming out mechanics like fundraising, ballot deadlines and an early primary state strategy. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist in Florida with Draft Biden, a political action committee established to lay the groundwork for a Biden run, said more voters would be likely to support Biden once he has officially launched a campaign.

"There's an element of people - they know they like him, but they're not willing to give him their vote yet," Schale said.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, ex-Senator Jim Webb of Virginia and Lincoln Chaffee, a former governor of Rhode Island, comprise the rest of the Democratic presidential field.

Clinton has been perceived as increasingly politically vulnerable as questions persist over her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state in the Obama administration. That controversy has helped stoke the fires for a late-in-the-game Biden shot.

Even so, Clinton continues to command large organizational and financial advantages, as well as the lion's share of the Democratic electorate, as the Reuters poll confirms.

Those close to Biden told Reuters that the vice president, still grief-stricken over the death of his son Beau from brain cancer in May, has not yet settled upon a course of action and is determined to stay true to his personal timetable.

Media reports last week had aides to Biden consulting with the Democratic National Committee about upcoming deadlines for qualifying for state primary ballots. Several are as early as November, meaning that Biden will have to reach a decision soon or risk being left off the ballot in some primaries.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted from Oct. 7-12 and surveyed 1,431 adults, including 580 self-identified Democrats. The credibility interval, which is similar to the margin of error, was 3 percent for the broader survey and 4.7 percent for the survey of Democrats.

See all the candidates running for president in 2016:

18 PHOTOS
All officially announced 2016 Presidential candidates
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Half of Democrats want Biden in race: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Business mogul Donald Trump (R)

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (D)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson of Maryland (R)

(Photo/Paul Sancya)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (R)

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida (R)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of New York (D)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (R)

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (R)

(Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Former CEO, Businesswoman Carly Fiorina of California (R)

(Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas (R)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Former New York Governor George Pataki (R)

(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (R)

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (R)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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