By Jim EllisMay 9, 2019 — Recent polling has seen former Vice President Joe Biden take full advantage of his announcement tour. While the pre-race appeared to be settling into a battle between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), once the ex-VP became an active candidate the picture drastically changed.
Several polls were taken during the last days of April and into early May. The HarrisX research organization and the Morning Consult firm conducted national surveys while Firehouse Strategies/Optimus commissioned Democratic primary polls in three of the first four nomination venues: Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. All of these polls produced big leads for Biden in contrast to what we were seeing just two weeks ago.
But, Change Research, in a slightly later New Hampshire poll with a larger sample (May 3-5; 864 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), finds Sen. Sanders still on top, 30-26-12 percent over Biden and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The HarrisX national poll (May 3-4; 440 registered voters in the US) gives Biden a whopping 44-14 percent lead over Sen. Sanders with all others following in single-digits. The third-place finisher, Mayor Buttigieg has only eight percent support. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have seven percent and six percent, respectively, while former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has dropped to just three percent, tied with New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
Morning Consult (April 29-May 5; 15,770 registered voters in the US — automated) finds similar results but with a much larger, and likely more accurate, respondent sample. According to MC, Biden’s advantage is 40-19 percent over Sen. Sanders with, again, all of the others finishing in single-digits. Here, it is Sen. Warren in third with eight percent, Sen. Harris holding seven percent, and Mayor Buttigieg polling six percent support. In this survey, O’Rourke has five percent, Sen. Booker again takes three percent, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar gets two percent. All of the others record one percent preference or less.
The three state primary polls show much the same, and their positioning early in the nomination process could give Biden the momentum he needs to shutout the others. Firehouse Strategies/Optimus sampled all three states over the same April 30 – May 2 period. Their respondent cells ranged from a low of 551 (New Hampshire) to a high of 576 (Iowa). These are adequate sample sizes for such states, but not as large as the Change Research cell that included 864 individuals and arrived at a virtually opposite conclusion.
Firehouse finds Biden polling 35, 34, and 48 percent in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, respectively. Sen. Sanders is second in all three places, scoring 12 percent preference in Iowa and South Carolina, and 16 percent in New Hampshire.
The latter state has been a source of strength for Sanders considering it is adjacent to his own Vermont and since he has been a well-known political figure in New England as far back as the 70s. Therefore, it is curious to see Biden ahead of the regional senator by more than a 2:1 ratio. The Granite State polling and voter history, therefore, seems to give more credence to the Change Research study that still places Sen. Sanders in the lead.
In Iowa, only two candidates behind Biden and Sanders break into double-digits: Mayor Buttigieg (11 percent) and Sen. Warren (10 percent). Buttigieg is the only candidate to top 10 percent in New Hampshire, and no one exceeds five percent (Buttigieg) in South Carolina.
The news is interesting in general election match-ups, as well. Consistently, President Trump is rebounding in national job approval polls to a position even better than President Obama at this same point during their respective tenures (Gallup; Trump 46 percent, Obama 44 percent at the early part of the third year in office). Thus, in the current general election pairings it is only Biden who polls ahead of Trump.
Additionally, in Arizona, a crucial 2020 state, the Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights just completed a poll of the Grand Canyon State electorate (May 1-2; 600 likely Arizona voters) and they also find Biden doing well. In fact, according to their results, President Trump would carry the state against every tested Democrat (Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris, O’Rourke, and Warren) with the lone exception of the former vice president. Trump’s range is from five to nine points against the other Democrats, but he would lose to Biden, 49-44 percent.
Much will change between now and the first votes being cast in Iowa and California early next February, but Joe Biden is clearly jumping out to the start that he envisioned and desired.