Biden Solidifies His Lead Over The Democratic Field

Former Vice-President Joe Biden continues to hold a strong lead over his rivals for the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

A new Fox News poll continues to show former Vice-President Joe Biden leading the crowded field of Democratic challengers while Bernie Sanders continues to fall and other candidates remain stuck where they have been for the past several weeks, although there are some signs that his momentum has slowed for the time being:

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, according to the latest Fox News Poll.

Among Democratic primary voters, Biden’s 35 percent (up from 31 percent in March) leaves Bernie Sanders in a distant second place with 17 percent (down from 23 percent).

Elizabeth Warren is next at 9 percent, Pete Buttigieg receives 6 percent, followed by Kamala Harris at 5 percent, Beto O’Rourke at 4 percent, Cory Booker at 3 percent, and Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar at 2 percent apiece.  John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang each garner one percent.

Since March, Warren and Buttigieg gained five percentage points and Biden is up four, while Sanders dropped six points, O’Rourke four and Harris three

About half of Democratic primary voters (49 percent) are paying “a lot” of attention to the candidates, and Biden performs even better in the ballot test among this tuned-in group:  41 percent back him, 17 percent Sanders, 10 percent Warren, and 7 percent Buttigieg.

The highest priority of Democratic primary voters is defeating Donald Trump, as 73 percent feel that is “extremely” important.  Next, 71 percent say it’s extremely important their nominee has high ethical standards.  Roughly half want a candidate who shares their views on major issues (51 percent), has new ideas (47 percent), and has a record of accomplishments as a political leader (47 percent).  Fewer prioritize someone who is likeable (39 percent), will shake up Washington (38 percent), and represents a new generation (37 percent).

For each trait, Biden leads among those primary voters who say it is extremely important.

This poll is largely consistent with other recent polling that has taken place since the last time we looked at the national polls.

In the latest Emerson College poll, for example, Biden stands at 33% followed by Senator Bernie Sanders at 25%, giving Biden an 8% lead which is the smallest lead of any recent poll. As for the rest of the poll, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are tied at 10%, which is somewhat of an uptick from where they had been. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is stuck at 8%, which is about where he’s been in several recent polls. After Buttigieg, the numbers are worse for the remaining candidates. Beto O’Rourke, who continues to slide in the polls as he tries to reboot his campaign after barely a month on the campaign trail, comes in at 3% while all of the other candidates comes in at 1% or barely registers at all in the poll.

Second, the latest Morning Consult poll puts Biden at 39% and Sanders at 19%. This is essentially where the two candidates were in the previous poll from this pollster, although Biden did drop a statistically insignificant one point from the previous week. After Sanders, there’s Elizabeth Warren at 7% and Kamala Harris at 6% followed by Pete Buttigieg at 6%. Beto O’Rourke at 5%, and Cory Booker at 3% The rest of the field is at 1% or lower.

Looking at the Rasmussen polling average, the former Vice-President remains at the top of the field at 39.1% with Bernie Sanders at 16.4%. giving Biden a +22.7 point advantage over his closest opponent. Biden and Sanders are the only candidates averaging in the double digits. Next in line behind Sanders is Elizabeth Warren at 8.7%, Kamala Harris at 7.3%, Pete Buttigieg at 6.7%, Beto O’Rourke at 4.1%, and Cory Booker at 4.1%. The remaining candidates are averaging 2% or lower. As the accompanying chart shows, there been some slight dipping for Biden while Sanders appears to have halted the decline that began when Biden entered the race. Among the other candidates, none of the candidates have really shown much of any significant movement from where they have been averaging for weeks now:

Absent some big news development that has a major impact on the race, the pattern that we see right now is likely to stay roughly where it is for the next month or so. The entrance of several new candidates into the race, including Montana Governor Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio just this week, isn’t likely to have much of an impact on the race in the same way that Biden’s entry into the race did, and unless he deviates from his current pattern and commits a major gaffe, the former Vice-President is likely to remain at the top of the field for the time being followed by Senator Sanders, who in turn is followed by a handful of tertiary candidates who at least appear to have a chance to break out of their current position given the right circumstances. As for the rest of the candidates, they’re likely to remain at the bottom of the field and can be counted among the candidates most likely to drop out of the race early.

To the extent there is going to be early weaning of what is now a 23 candidate field, it will be the early debates that will accomplish that. Under existing Democratic National Committee rules, only 20 candidates can qualify for spots in these early debates, and the determination of who will be invited to participate, summarized here, is meant to weed out candidates with low levels of support as measured by both polling and fundraising and poll position and little to no campaign organization on the ground in the early primary states. The first such debate will take place roughly five weeks from now over a two night period on June 26th and 27th and aired on MSNBC. This will be followed by a second round of two-night debates on July 30th and 31st that will be aired on CNN. After that, the next debate won’t take place until September, with additional debates ever month up through February. (Here’s the debate schedule.) These debates will likely have some impact on the status of the race, perhaps giving some candidates currently mired below 2% the attention they need to become more credible candidates or by exposing candidates who are performing well in the polls right now to the cold light of a reality that will show them to be far weaker than anticipated. As for the candidates who don’t qualify for the early debates at all, you can begin writing them off now because they won’t be long for the world once Democratic donors notice that investing in their candidacies would be a waste of time.

All of this goes a long way toward saying that, for the time being, this is Joe Biden’s race to win or lose. Every other candidate is going to be gunning for him in some respect, and how he stands up to that fire will be the first test to see whether we’ve really got a new Joe Biden and whether he’s going to end up being so much of a force in the race that his nomination becomes essentially inevitable.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Current likely scenario: Biden gets to the convention with about 40% of delegates. The progs make an effort to rally behind a candidate who is not Bernie, but the Bernie Bros won’t play ball, so we go to a second ballot. On the second ballot all pledges are freed and the super delegates get a vote. Biden asks Harris to be his Veep, opposition collapses, Biden gets the nom.

    Not what I want, but analysis isn’t about wants. Unless Biden implodes, how is the above not the likely scenario?

  2. Teve says:

    We’re still 5 weeks away from the first debate and 7+ mos from the first voting. A lot of things could happen, including cardiovascular things.

  3. EddieInCA says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Agreed, but think it will be Harris, not Warren, with a 20% chance it’s Booker and not Harris or Warren.

    Some of the also-rans have to get out. Seth Moulton? Wayne Messam? John Delaney? Andrew Yang? GTFO!!!

    Why is DeBlasio running? Klobachar? Hubbard? None of them can get close to 50% against Trump. WTF?

  4. Gustopher says:

    Looking at the graph, we see Biden having peaked, and trending down. And, his spike and slight fall is almost exactly mirrored in Bernie dropping and then pulling up a little, along with Beto’s decline.

    Biden and Bernie shouldn’t be pulling support from one another — those should be separate pools — and that tells me that the race is still being dominated by name recognition and people aren’t paying attention yet.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think that’s so much a dip as an Emerson poll outlier included, a slightly earlier CNN poll excluded. But we’ll see.

    According to Saint Nate of the Polls:

    And what we’ve seen is that national surveys conducted in the year before a presidential primary are relatively good indicators of which candidates will advance to the general election, especially when polling averages are adjusted to reflect how well known each candidate was.

    In a table which I cannot reproduce here, he claims that (in the first half of a presidential year) a candidate with high name recognition (Biden) who polls at 35% or better had a 75% chance of getting the nom. A well-known candidate polling 20-35% (Bernie) has a 36% shot. 10-20% (no one at the moment) has a 9% shot, and below that fuggedaboutit. The past is not always prologue but I can definitely see now why Biden got in.

  6. Teve says:

    My friend S and I were driving around Gainesville the other day and politics came up and I mentioned to her that while I didn’t think it was likely, there was a chance that Trump could get reelected.

    She kept driving and staring ahead and didn’t say anything and some kind of emotional trouble was going on within her and so I just switched the subject.

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Some people can’t handle reality?

  8. Teve says:

    More like, for some people who were sexually assaulted in their youth in New York, Trump’s very existence is a constant re-injury.