National poll shows Sanders, Warren leading Biden

NASHUA — With New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary now less than six months away, a poll released Monday shows that former Vice President Joe Biden’s once impressive national lead has completely evaporated.

The survey, taken by New Jersey-based Monmouth University, shows Biden now locked in a virtual three-way tie atop the Democratic field. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts each registered 20% in the poll, while Biden received 19% of the support.

“The main takeaway from this poll is that the Democratic race has become volatile. Liberal voters are starting to cast about for a candidate they can identify with,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

Interestingly, the same poll shows that 58% of Democratic primary voters believe it is “very important” for the party’s presidential nominee to support a “Medicare for All” plan. Biden has consistently made it clear that he does not support Medicare for All because he believes it will mean the end of Obamacare.

Meanwhile, both Sanders and Warren are staunch advocates of Medicare for All.

“It’s important to keep in mind this is just one snapshot from one poll. But it does raise warning signs of increased churning in the Democratic nomination contest now that voters are starting to pay closer attention,” Murray added.

The Poll

Interviewers for this poll conducted both landline and cellphone surveys from Aug. 16-20. The results are based on a subsample of 298 registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party.

In May and in August, the specific question Monmouth officials asked was: “I know the 2020 election is far away, but who would you support for the Democratic nomination for president if the candidates were the following?” A list of the candidates names then follows.

In May, 33% answered Biden, while the poll released Monday shows only 19% answered the same. This reflects a drop of 14 points.

By comparison, Warren’s total has doubled from 10% to 20% since May, while Sanders saw his support grow from 15% to 20%.

“Moderate voters, who have been paying less attention, seem to be expressing doubts about Biden. But they are swinging more toward one of the left-leaning contenders with high name recognition rather than toward a lesser known candidate who might be more in line with them politically,” Murray said.

After the top three, there is a considerable drop off, as California’s Kamala Harris placed a distant fourth with 8% support. However, Murray said Harris remains a strong contender, based on the fact that if Biden continues to fall, he believes she may gain some of his supporters.

“Biden’s drop in support is coming disproportionately from later states that have less impact on the process. But if this trend continues it could spell trouble for him in the early states if it undermines his claim to being the most electable candidate,” Murray said. “This could benefit someone like Harris, who remains competitive in the early states and could use a strong showing there to propel her into the top tier.”

Others who registered some support in the poll are as follows: Pete Buttigieg of Indiana and Cory Booker of New Jersey each recorded 4%; Andrew Yang of New York received 3% support; Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke of Texas, along with Marianne Williamson of California, each received 2%.

Checking in at exactly 1% in this national poll were Bill de Blasio of New York, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

All other candidate finished with less than 1% of the vote.

“Warren looks like the candidate with the greatest momentum right now,” Murray added.