July 25, 2019 — Former Vice President Joe Biden is re-establishing his pre-debate lead in the Democratic presidential race according to a new Morning Consult political survey.
The poll (July 15-21; 17,285 likely Democratic primary voters from an online pool of 5,000 US registered voters), part of a regular ongoing Morning Consult research series, finds Biden registering 33 percent preference. Following with double-digit support are Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 18-14-13 percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who led all of the Democratic candidates in second quarter fundraising with $24 million obtained during the three-month period, posted only five percent support in placing fifth.
Though we see more support for both Warren and Harris than was present in pre-debate polling, the remainder of the field appears to be reverting to their support levels detected prior to the first Democratic presidential forum held in Miami at the end of June.
Results such as those found in this MC study still suggest the pressure is squarely on the former vice president to deliver an improved performance at his next debate scheduled for July 31 from Detroit. While it was clear his support dipped after the last debate, it will now become imperative for him to command the stage in order to re-establish long-lasting confidence from his political base.
The post-debate slippage indicated that much of Biden’s voter base can be described as vacillating, thus identifying a point of weakness. The upcoming national debate will give him the opportunity of cementing his early lead.
With Biden again pitted against Sen. Harris, and this time with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) joining him as part of the 10 candidates appearing on stage, his key opponents make up a formidable presence who will likely seize more than their allotted share of speaking time. Fighting for time could become problematic for Biden, especially if he becomes a joint target as the evening proceeds.
The Morning Consult series is also the only polling operation that consistently probes the respondents’ second choice. Previously, Biden was the preferred secondary option, but this survey reveals a change. Now, the second-pick standing is more evenly spread.
The second-choice response is important because it helps gauge the depth of support that each candidate possesses. Earlier, with Biden and Sen. Sanders together dominating the secondary option, it appeared their respective support segment featured a solid base. Since the new results show more candidates attracting second-choice preference, this race continues to brandish the long-term potential of becoming a close multi-candidate contest.
While Biden places first in this poll with 33 percent, the support base who said they would largely default to him if their candidate were not competing is Sen. Sanders’. The Sanders supporters would break 30 percent for Biden and 23 percent for Warren, while 10 percent would go with Sen. Harris as a second option.
The Warren and Harris supporters each prefer the other as their second choice. Almost one-third (30 percent) of Sen. Warren’s backers would turn to Sen. Harris if the Massachusetts senator were not in the race. Sen. Sanders would attract 19 percent while Biden would claim 17 percent.
On the other hand, the Harris supporters would break toward Sen. Warren as their second choice, closely followed by Biden. The two would finish with 28 and 26 percent within the Harris base. Mayor Buttigieg would get 12 percent support. Finally, the Buttigieg group would now break for Sen. Harris (28 percent) with Biden and Warren each attracting a 19 percent secondary preference.
It will be interesting to see if this pro-Biden trend continues and whether the former vice president will meet the challenge as the pre-debate hype intensifies.