Sept. 10, 2015 — A pair of newly released surveys is now providing what may be a true depiction of the current Democratic presidential field.
Though there has been a great deal of discussion and speculation about whether Vice President Joe Biden will join the presidential contest, most national studies were not including him on their national ballot test questions. The state polls that did feature him, along with Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), did not discover much in the way of Biden support, however. Yesterday, Monmouth University released a new poll that provides plausible answers as to where the VP stands in relation to Clinton and Sanders.
Though Clinton has been under the gun for weeks about her private email server and what has become her lagging campaign, the slippage in her standing when compared to the other candidates wasn’t particularly evident in national surveys, or those covering the early voting states’ electorates. Two NBC/Marist College surveys just reported their Iowa and New Hampshire findings, and they foresee a front-running candidate who is beginning to hemorrhage politically.
The Monmouth poll (Aug. 31 – Sept. 2; 1,099 US adults; 339 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Clinton now dropping below a majority within the Democratic cell sample, a first for a national poll in this election cycle. Monmouth projects Clinton having 42 percent support, followed by Biden with 22 percent, and Sen. Sanders close behind scoring 20 percent.
Though the respondent universe of 339 individuals is unreasonably small, specific questions raised do make interesting points.
Even with Monmouth finding Clinton’s committed support dropping sharply, her favorability rating of 71 percent positive equals the vice president’s number among Democrats. Sen. Sanders lags behind at just 41 percent approval, but that is largely due to his lower name identification. Biden, at 9 percent, has the smallest unfavorable score. Clinton’s is the highest in the field, 17 percent, while Sanders’ posts a fairly similar 14 percent negative rating.
The most telling question, however, relates to how strong a commitment level the individual respondents possess about their presidential choice. The findings reveal that Biden is doing much better than the ballot test indicates.
The language tests the likelihood that a respondent would switch their support from one of the other candidates to Biden should he officially enter the race. In addition to his outright 22 percent support rating within the sample, another 7 percent say they would very likely switch to him. An additional 34 percent of those now supporting another candidate say it is “somewhat likely” that they would switch to Biden. Only 16 percent of those committed to another candidate say the Biden entry would not change their vote. These numbers bode very well for Biden and poorly for Clinton, though they are not particularly helpful to Sen. Sanders either.
Turning to the latest state polls, NBC/Marist now projects Sen. Sanders leading Clinton in New Hampshire. Losing this state would cause potentially irreparable harm to the former First Lady’s campaign.
According to the data (Aug. 26 – Sept. 2; 356 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters), Sen. Sanders now holds a 49-38 percent advantage over Clinton without Vice President Biden in the field, and 41-32-16 percent with him included. Clinton dropping to 38 and 32 percent support within the respective question response table certainly demonstrates a collapse in what will be portrayed as the most important early primary. It was her lackluster start in 2008 that led to her losing the party nomination to then-Sen. Barack Obama.
The Iowa numbers are a bit better but still act as a Clinton warning signal. This poll (Aug. 26 – Sept. 2; 345 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) keeps her in first place on ballot tests that both include and exclude Biden, but her standing has weakened considerably since the last NBC/Marist Iowa poll (July) under all scenarios.
In the Hawkeye State, Clinton leads Sen. Sanders 48-37 percent, while maintaining a 38-27-20 percent edge over the Vermont senator and Biden, respectively. Sanders gained a net 18 points opposite Clinton since the previous NBC/Marist study. Her net loss is 23 points in the three-way battle.
The most recent data tells us that polls are beginning to detect significant fallout from the heavy negative media Clinton has been attracting during the last month. Not soon reversing this course may send her into a dangerous spiral from which she cannot recover.