Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former Vice President Joe Biden are currently bunched together in the national Democratic presidential preference contest. Movement in the latest Monmouth University Poll – positive for Warren and Sanders, negative for Biden – suggests the 2020 presidential nomination process may be entering a volatile stage.
The poll results also suggest that liberal voters are starting to take a closer look at a wider range of candidates, while moderates are focusing on those with the highest name recognition. Another key finding that could contribute to growing volatility in the race is confusion over “Medicare for All.” Most say support for this policy is an important factor in choosing a Democratic nominee, but voters actually prefer a public option over a single payer plan.
The poll finds a virtual three-way tie among Sanders (20%), Warren (20%), and Biden (19%) in the presidential nomination preferences of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters across the country. Compared to Monmouth’s June poll, these results represent an increase in support for both Sanders (up from 14%) and Warren (up from 15%), and a significant drop for Biden (down from 32%).
Results for the rest of the field are fairly stable compared to two months ago. These candidates include California Sen. Kamala Harris at 8% support (identical to 8% in June), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 4% (2% in June), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 4% (5% in June), entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 3% (2% in June), former cabinet secretary Julián Castro at 2% (<1% in June), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke at 2% (3% in June), and author Marianne Williamson at 2% (1% in June). Support for the remaining 13 candidates included in the preference poll registered only 1% or less.
Biden has suffered an across the board decline in his support since June. He lost ground with white Democrats (from 32% to 18%) and voters of color (from 33% to 19%), among voters without a college degree (from 35% to 18%) and college graduates (from 28% to 20%), with both men (from 38% to 24%) and women (from 29% to 16%), and among voters under 50 years old (from 21% to 6%) as well as voters aged 50 and over (from 42% to 33%). Most of Biden’s lost support in these groups shifted almost equally toward Sanders and Warren.
“The main takeaway from this poll is that the Democratic race has become volatile. Liberal voters are starting to cast about for a candidate they can identify with. Moderate voters, who have been paying less attention, seem to be expressing doubts about Biden. But they are swinging more toward one of the left-leaning contenders with high name recognition rather than toward a lesser known candidate who might be more in line with them politically,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. He added, “It’s important to keep in mind this is just one snapshot from one poll. But it does raise warning signs of increased churning in the Democratic nomination contest now that voters are starting to pay closer attention.”
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SOURCE: Monmouth University