A Momentum Poll For the Democrats

By Jim Ellis

April 23, 2019 — A new poll was released at week’s end last week, and it may be our best glimpse of the national Democratic presidential picture. As we know, the national count matters little in how the individual states will select delegates, but this polling category does provide a sound measurement of candidate momentum.

Change Research (April 12-15; 2,519 likely Democratic primary voters) just returned results from their latest field poll. Though the 538 statistical research organization only rates Change Research as a C+ pollster, the large respondent universe of just over 2,500 participants certainly gives us the largest national sample sector producing data. Contrast this, for example, with Emerson College’s national primary poll released last week that segmented only 356 respondents.

The Change results find Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden. Looking at the numbers, Sen. Sanders polls 20 percent, just one point behind Biden’s 21 percent.

Jumping all the way to third place is South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg with a healthy 17 percent support factor. Dropping back into single-digits (nine percent) is former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren records her typical eight percent, within the tight range she finds in most surveys, which, in this case, is one point ahead of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). The latter senator’s seven percent also represents a considerable support drop, as much as 50 percent when compared to early surveys.

Change also surveyed the field without Biden included. Under this scenario, Sen. Sanders pulls just over a quarter of the sampling universe at 26 percent with Mayor Buttigieg moving into a strong second place with 21 percent, and O’Rourke rebounding to secure 14 percent and third place. Sens. Harris and Warren tie for fourth place with 10 percent.

From a momentum perspective, the Change poll provides further evidence that Sen. Sanders is clearly on the upswing, Biden has stalled just before what is expected to be his official announcement week, Buttigieg is the candidate leaping forward from the back, Harris and O’Rourke appear to be losing support, and Warren remains stagnant at a low level.

These trends consistently appear in the most recent national polls, and this large Change Research sample data likely gives us the most reliable read as to where the entire field stands.

Other information is contained here because the Change pollsters named every announced candidate and then some. For many minor candidates, the CR data brings good news.

As we have mentioned in other reports, one of the debate series qualifying factors is to reach at least one percent support in three national polls. The Change poll finds several of the newcomers reaching that polling plateau, though this particular pollster is unlikely to be one of the recognized Democratic National Committee surveyors.

For the first time, Georgia former gubernatorial nominee Stacy Abrams was included in a poll and pulls four percent backing; so does Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and New York City entrepreneur Andrew Yang each earn two percent support; Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) all touch one percent.

Failing to score are Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has since said he will not run, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Miramar (FL) Mayor Wayne Messam, ex-Rep. John Delaney (D-MD), and author Marianne Williamson.

The Change poll confirms the field’s fluidity, that much movement is possible, and no candidate, including both Biden and Sanders, is yet in a commanding position.

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