The large Democratic field may be starting to winnow itself
out. New polling shows that four candidates stand out above the others with support
in the double digits while one candidate in
particular is a clear frontrunner.
The new poll by CNN and SSRS asked Democratic-leaning voters about their presidential preferences and found
a surprising eight-point surge for Kamala Harris. The California senator polled
at eight percent in the last polling during early December but reached 12 percent
in the new poll. Despite the improvement, Harris finished in a distant third
The frontrunner, as in most polling, was the as-yet-unannounced
Joe Biden. The former vice president has consistently led polling amid rampant
speculation that he will announce his intent to run soon. Biden has hinted
to supporters last week that he is running and holds an eight-point lead
over his nearest competitor in the new poll. Biden’s support was virtually
unchanged from the 30 percent that he garnered in December.
Bernie Sanders is the second-place finisher with 20 percent.
The Democrat-in-name-only gained six percent over his December results to partially
close the gap with Biden.
The only other candidate with support in the double-digits
was Beto O’Rourke. Fresh from his official campaign
announcement and fundraising triumph, the Texan gained two percent from his
December results to hold a statistical tie with Harris at 11 percent.
There were few other candidates with significant changes in
support. Elizabeth Warren showed marginal improvement, rising from three to six
percent, while Corey Booker dropped from five to three percent. Amy Klobuchar
was steady at three percent. Former secretary of state and presidential
candidate John Kerry was also included in the poll with four percent support in
More significant, the number of Democrats who chose “no one”
or “undecided” dropped from 17 to seven percent. This indicates that even at
this early date, voters are making up their minds. With fewer undecided voters
to compete for, candidates will have to start chipping away at the competition
in order to improve their own standing in the polls.
The poll also asked Democrats about their second choice.
With 17 percent, Bernie Sanders was the top second choice followed by Joe Biden
at 14 percent. No other candidates were above 10 percent on this question and
the results indicate that Sanders and Biden should rise almost equally as other
candidates start to drop out of the race.
Fifty-six percent of Democrats said that the most important
factor in selecting a candidate was “a strong chance of beating Donald Trump.”
Joe Biden was rated as the candidate most likely to beat Trump at 51 percent to
Bernie Sanders’ 33 percent.
The CNN poll also gave bad news for President Donald Trump. The
poll found that Donald Trump had a 41 percent approval rating with 54 percent
disapproval. In contrast, 46 percent had a favorable opinion of Bernie Sanders,
but most other Democratic candidates were largely unknown. The favorability
question was not asked of Joe Biden.
On questions that were asked of supporters of both parties
and independents, voters held a low opinion of Trump’s character. Only 40
percent thought he “cares about people like you” and 34 percent saw him as “honest
and trustworthy.” On job performance, voters saw him as incapable of positively
changing the country (53-42 percent), unable to manage the government
effectively (56-41 percent), disrespectful of the rule of law (56-40 percent), and
divisive (63-32 percent). The only question that the president fared well on
was being tough enough to handle a crisis (51-46 percent).
Voters rated the top issue for the upcoming election as “immigration”
at 20 percent. Of these voters, 15 percent said “immigration” in general and
six percent said “wall” or “border security.” Supporters of both parties are
enthusiastic about the upcoming election with 79 percent of both Democrats and
Republicans rating themselves as very enthusiastic.
The poll sampled 1,003 adults using both cell phones and
landlines. The party breakdown was 32 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican,
and 44 percent independent or other parties. This closely mirrors the national
partisan alignment. The margin of error was 3.8 percentage points.
The new poll shows that Democrats are starting to cement
their support for particular candidates with Joe Biden as the consistent favorite.
It also undercuts the notion that Democratic voters will veer left and nominate
a radical candidate instead of the known and proven campaigner in Joe Biden. The
nomination of a radical is more likely if Biden decides not to run. For Republicans,
low approval and widespread distrust of President Trump make any Democratic
candidate a threat.