Polling update: Biden continues to be the frontrunner

by | May 21, 2019 | 2020 Elections, Politics

It’s been three weeks since we last brought you an update on Presidential polling, and in that time we’ve seen the release of at least 10 new polls, and some definite trends are beginning to appear.

While we didn’t lend much initial credence to the Biden Bump or the Bernie Bust, the national numbers over the month of May have gone from a trend to a pattern. The former Vice President now leads the RealClearPolitics average of Democratic primary polls, clocking in at 38.3% – a whopping 20 points ahead of second place Bernie Sanders’ 18.8%.

On the whole, these numbers are a bummer for those feeling the Bern, and a closer look at Morning Consult’s weekly poll of the Presidential race throws up even more red flags in the Vermont Senator’s quest for the nomination.

(I really like the Morning Consult poll because, compared to a traditional telephone poll, they survey 14,000 voters each week, a data nerd’s dream.)

Early primary states

Sanders’ rise in the 2016 primary was fueled by overperformances in Iowa, where he narrowly lost out to Hillary Clinton, and New Hampshire, which neighbors his home state, where he won handily. Now, three years later, Sanders’ standing has slipped among early state voters.

Biden currently holds a commanding lead in the early primary states, at 43%, up one point from last week. Sanders slid one point, down to 18%. Sander’s ability to win in the early states, especially in New Hampshire, hasn’t evaporated, but he’s struggling to break even with where his support stood in 2016.

The Texans

Elsewhere in the polls, Texans Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro are still moored in the low single digits, but there are signs of life for O’Rourke that have gone underreported. His name ID is relatively strong, at 80%, but 20% of voters don’t know who he is. Even still, voters with a positive opinion of O’Rourke outnumber those with a negative opinion by a 4 to 1 margin, with 48% having a very or somewhat favorable opinion of O’Rourke while only 13% held a somewhat or very negative opinion of the former El Paso Congressman.

Other takeaways

Elizabeth Warren is a constant presence in third place across most polls, with her support registering somewhere between 8-9%. Her average is now 8.8%, holding strong.

Kamala Harris is a similarly reliable entrant in the 4th place spot across polls, and her average is standing at 7.3 percent, with Mayor Pete close behind at an even 7%.

The lower tier of the race is largely the land of the unknowns. 34% of voters have no clue who New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is or why he’s running for President, 35% couldn’t pick Amy Klobuchar out of a lineup, and a whopping 62% wouldn’t know Seth Moulton if he knocked on their door.

What does it all mean?

Unlike our last update, Biden, as measured by the polls, is firmly in place as the frontrunner at this point in time. Bernie Sanders has work to do to right his ship, but there is still a lot of time on the clock and a lot of room for volatility.

Morning Consult’s polling on second choice candidates further cements Biden as a credible frontrunner; he is the second choice for voters supporting most candidates. A notable exception is Elizabeth Warren, who is the only candidate whose voters prefer Bernie as their second choice.

O’Rourke seems to be the only candidate resonating with both Biden and Bernie voters. Should either of those candidates falter and his campaign’s much-vaunted reboot goes well, Beto could still be a factor in the race.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Alex Wong/Getty Images, Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images, Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mark Wilson/Getty Images, and Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

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