By Jim EllisApril 4, 2019 — Former Vice President Joe Biden has been under attack in recent days over past inappropriate behavior around women but, so far, it hasn’t yet damaged his standing with Democratic primary voters according to the latest monthly Morning Consult poll (March 25-29; 12,940 US likely Democratic primary or caucus voters).
While Biden has been hit with a series of negative articles and television news reports, which may be only the beginning of political assaults as the other candidates need to dislodge the former vice president from the front runner position, he still stands atop the Democratic field with his best showing from any recent poll.
According to the Morning Consult data, Biden has open up a 33-25-8-8 percent advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), respectively. The 33 percent figure is the single-best number that Biden has attracted from any poll during his pre-announcement period.
For his part, Sen. Sanders continues to command a strong-second place position, while Harris drops back a bit from her 10 percent showing in the March 10 Morning Consult track. Her high point from any MC survey came in early February when she touched 14 percent. O’Rourke continues to hover consistently around his eight percent mark, always placing either in third or fourth position.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been attracting positive media coverage and topped $7 million in raised funds for the quarter. The Morning Consult poll finds him claiming three percent support and moving into seventh position. Buttigieg is the strongest mover on the favorability index question, now scoring a 23:8 percent rating, which represents a move of 11 percentage points on the positive scale, the largest gain of any candidate.
On the negative side, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who continues to languish in mid-single-digit support territory – this time records seven percent – has the highest disapproval number (17 percent) of any contender. Other candidates scoring a significant negative within the Democratic framework were O’Rourke and Sen. Sanders (14 percent apiece). Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) closely follow, posting 12 percent within this Democratic sample group. On the other hand, the candidates with the lowest negative scores were Buttigieg and Govs. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Steve Bullock (D-MT). All recorded eight percent negative ratings.
Morning Consult also tracks the respondents’ second choice should their primary candidate leave the race for any reason. Here, and again with no surprise, both Biden and Sanders take the lion’s share of the second-choice preference responses.
If Biden were not to run or suddenly leave the race, the MC poll suggests that 34 percent of his supporters would gravitate toward Sen. Sanders, while 11 percent would move toward Sen. Harris with an additional 11 percent going toward ex-Rep. O’Rourke.
If Sen. Sanders were no longer a candidate, for whatever reason, a surprising 36 percent would move to Biden with only 18 percent going back to Sen. Warren, which seems like a more natural ally. A final nine percent would go to O’Rourke.
If Harris were out, her supporters’ second-choice decisions uncover a tighter split among three candidates. By a margin of 21-15-14 percent, the voters would move toward Biden, Sanders, and Warren, respectively.
Whether or not Biden can hold this type of lead once he becomes an official candidate is anyone’s guess. For now, he continues to remain in the top position but, even with 33 percent being his top number in the early campaign season, he still is a long way from clinching a 50 percent win on the first ballot at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.