By Jim Ellis
July 2, 2019 — The Morning Consult organization immediately went into the field after the second night of the Democratic presidential forum (June 27-28; 2,407 US self-identified Democratic registered voters) and found that former Vice President Joe Biden’s support slipped, at least as an immediate reaction to what is commonly viewed as his poor debate performance, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), evaluated as performing quite well, gained.
The MC data still finds Biden in first place, but down five points from their previous survey. On June 23, just three days before the first forum, Biden led Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 38-19 percent while Sen. Harris lagged at six percent support. Just after the debate, when completing the poll on June 28, Biden dropped to 33 percent, but Sanders remained constant at the 19 percent level. Conversely, Sen. Harris doubled her past support to 12 percent.
In the Morning Consult survey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also posted 12 percent support, which was virtually on par with her standing in their June 23 poll when she recorded 13 percent preference. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who actually scored well on the second debate night, had a similar result to Sen. Warren. While he was polling seven percent on the June 23 poll, he basically remained constant one week later, dropping to six percent on the MC June 28 survey.
Former Texas representative, Beto O’Rourke, who was dogged with poor debate reviews from his first night performance, also dropped in the Morning Consult polling. Before the forum, O’Rourke was only in the four percent range, and after, even lost half that support base, dropping to two percent.
Interestingly, five debate participants, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and author Marianne Williamson didn’t score at all on the later Morning Consult survey. But two contenders who weren’t allowed in the forums, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and US Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), scored higher, each registering one percent support.
Former Housing & Urban Development Secretary Joaquin Castro, another of the first-night candidates who registered a strong performance, failed to translate his debate strength into a tangible support boost. He remained at one percent. The other “one-percenters” in this latest Morning Consult national Democratic survey were New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).
Ironically, New York businessman Andrew Yang, who was unimpressive in the debate, still did better than the aforementioned in this poll, posting two percent support.
While Biden’s disappointing debate performance has not sunk his campaign, it did deliver a wake-up call. With virtually across-the-board negative reviews and now after a perceptible dip in polling support, the former vice president will need to re-double his preparation efforts to ensure he improves his debate result in the July forum. It is clear that all eyes will be on him, and perceptions of the Biden campaign may turn seriously negative if he again fails to impress.
The next forum, also a two-night event, is scheduled for July 30-31 in Detroit.