Post-New Hampshire Polling

We now have five candidates in double-digits.

The first of the post-New Hampshire national surveys are in. As expected, Bernie Sanders is now the obvious frontrunner. But Joe Biden hasn’t dropped off nearly as much as the chatter would have us believe and Amy Klobuchar thus far has gotten little bounce. And Mike Bloomberg is suddenly viable.

At least, that’s what the latest Morning Consult poll tells us:

According to a Morning Consult poll conducted Wednesday, the Vermont independent is the first choice for 29 percent of Democratic primary voters, up 4 percentage points since polling conducted Feb. 4-9. Biden’s support fell 3 points during that time to 19 percent, leaving him 1 point ahead of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana, who placed second in New Hampshire but leads Sanders by a whisker in the race for Democratic National Convention delegates, saw no change in his first-choice support, while the Granite State’s third-place finisher, Amy Klobuchar, improved 2 points, to 5 percent. She trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) by 5 points.

Granted, trailing by 10 is quite different from being the slight frontrunner. But the actual drop is only three points, which is hardly catastrophic.

The two questions at this point seem to be:

  • Can Elizabeth Warren get back in the game as the progressive alternative to Sanders?
  • Can the “moderates” consolidate around one candidate in time to stave off a Sanders victory?

I don’t even pretend to have answers at this point.

Certainly, my prediction that the race would be over with soon because of the front-loaded primary schedule seems to be wildly off base. I thought that Iowa and New Hampshire would persuade candidates who had been mired in the single digits, like Klobuchar, to drop out. But, while she’s still only at 5%, she clearly got a sense of new life from out-performing Biden in the Granite State.

At this point, I see no reason for any of the six candidates who made the graphic above to withdraw before Super Tuesday. But, if Warren can’t mount a comeback soon, she’s going to feel enormous pressure to cede the field to Sanders. Similarly, if Biden doesn’t bounce back soon, he’ll be seen as a spoiler who’s handing the nomination to Sanders.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    If this continues, and Sanders is the Democratic nominee, Trump will get another 4 years in office…and the Senate will stay in McConnell’s control.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Nate Silver has the odds as:

    Bernie: 35%
    No Winner: 36%
    Biden: 11%
    Bloomberg: 7%
    Buttigieg: 5%
    Warren: 2%
    Klobuchar: 0.1%

    No winner is in second place, Bloomberg in fourth. Obviously I have no useful opinion on his methodology or the usefulness of his forecast.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m not absolutely sure of that. Indeed, I’m not sure Sanders wouldn’t have been more effective against Trump in 2016 than was Hillary.

    I think a Bloomberg or Biden or even a Buttigieg or Klobuchar would be more appealing to swing voters than Sanders. But it’s not clear how many of those there are. I think Trump’s base is still excited. I think Sanders would excite the Democratic base—probably moreso than a lot of the other candidates.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Senate will stay in McConnell’s control.

    Yuuup. Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Georgia (x2), Kentucky, North Carolina, Maine, Texas. We have to win 5 of these to ensure that a potential betrayal by Manchin doesn’t swing control back to the GOP. By my count, Sanders’s mythologized ability to “turn out the base” will help in Georgia, and maaaaybe Arizona. Gardner will lose in Colorado no matter what. So that’s three. But Iowa? Kentucky? Montana? Kansas? Sanders is a liability on the ticket. Even independents/never Trumpers who might be persuaded to vote the bum out of office will split their ticket to ensure a Senate check on Sanders. And he’s just as likely to motivate Maine and North Carolina Republicans to save their sorry POS Senators.

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I remain dubious that a gay 30-something is going to be a major party nominee in 2020. And while I’d prefer Bloomberg over several of the alternatives, I’d be shocked if the party currently railing against the evils of money rallies around him.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Joyner:

    Exciting the base only works where you have a base to excite–or at least a base large enough to swing a Senate election. I think there are mighty few Senate seats up for grabs that won’t involve peeling away Independents/Republicans.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I think that’s a fair point. While I’d vote for Sanders if he’s the alternative to Trump, I’d frankly like to block his agenda—and the Senate is the most obvious place. (Not that Virginia is going to send a Republican to the Senate any time soon.)

  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:
    No self-admitted Socialist will ever be POTUS.
    It’s just too friggin’ easy for the right-wing smear machine to chew him up and spit him out.
    All you will hear for the next 9 months is SOCIALISM.
    And every red hat in the country screaming for Bernie the Socialist to stay out of their Social Security.
    And even if by some miracle he pulled off the win…he will have destroyed any chance of winning the Senate seats we need to actually accomplish anything.

  9. Jen says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think Sanders would excite the Democratic base

    Only part of it. I would prefer just about any other candidate. He certainly does not excite me (or does, but in a negative way).

    He is incredibly unlikable, IMHO. He’s gotten almost nothing done in his 30+ years in the Senate (somehow, this makes him the most insider-y outsider ever), and it’s because he doesn’t get along with people. Also, age.

  10. Kylopod says:

    Just for the record, I am totally not getting into the Bloomberg crush currently sweeping the online Dem world. I get the sense Dems are so spooked by the prospect of a second Trump term (understandably—let’s be clear on that), they’re collectively losing their mind in panic. I truly think that if Mitt Romney were to announce tomorrow that he had decided to become a Democrat and run for the Dem nomination, a nontrivial amount of Dems would be supporting him. They’d give some of the same arguments they’re giving with Bloomberg—our #1 priority is to beat Trump, anyone would be better, we’ve got to peel off Republican votes, etc.

    I mean, really. Have we lost all sense of standards? It’s like people are taking the criticisms about the Dems imposing purity tests, the circular firing squad (which often refers to substantive debates on policy—imagine that) they’ve decided to go to the absolute opposite extreme.

    There was a time when I looked to Bloomberg as a rare example of a Republican I could respect, perhaps even vote for. In principle, my image of what a rational center-right party would look like, as opposed to the authoritarian, anti-intellectual, far-right monstrosity the GOP has become, would include people like Bloomberg. But that does not mean I want him to become the Dems’ standard-bearer.

    I am also deeply skeptical that his purported strengths will hold once he’s subjected to the scrutiny of the other candidates, something he’s largely escaped by not participating in any of the debates so far and focusing on the enormously satisfying and unifying activity of Trump-bashing, avoiding the more contentious issues that those without endless cash on hand have to deal with. As I’ve said many times—and not just regarding this cycle—there’s always a “grass is greener” dynamic in presidential races: candidate invariably seem better the farthest they are from the spotlight. Bloomberg has struck me as the worst of both worlds: the left hates him, but he’d be remarkably easy to paint as a nanny-stater (e.g. soda ban). The GOP slime machine hasn’t done its work on him yet because up to now they never expected they had to. That could change very rapidly.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    I agree re: Buttigieg. His best hope was drawing millennials and making the generational change argument. I haven’t seen evidence of that happening.

    As for Bloomberg, the DNC is broke and falling apart. Bloomberg can write a check and make it well. He can also run ‘issue ads’ in Maine, Colorado and Arizona attacking Republicans and tying GOP Senatorial candidates to the Trump dumpster fire.

    My eldest is hard Left. Very down on the billionaires, but is nevertheless happy to sit down with me to a $300 per person dinner. Hard Left but not stupid.

  12. Neil Hudelson says:


    I am also deeply skeptical that his purported strengths will hold once he’s subjected to the scrutiny of the other candidates, something he’s largely escaped by not participating in any of the debates so far and focusing on the enormously satisfying and unifying activity of Trump-bashing, avoiding the more contentious issues that those without endless cash on hand have to deal with.

    Here here.

    I recently read an analysis that described candidates as “get to yes” and “get to no” candidates. Obama was a “get to yes” candidate–people wanted to support him, but were wary he could win. He chipped away at their doubts, and got them to “yes.” Trump was a “get to no” candidate for many Republicans. Alas, most didn’t get to no.

    I think just about any nominee but Sanders is a “get to yes” candidate, which is why the rush to Bloomberg. We (being the totality of the Democratic party, independents, and never trumpers) want to ‘get to yes’ for just about any candidate. That doesn’t seem to be happening with Sanders. Moderates are still trying to figure out which candidate can beat him, but they aren’t rushing to get to yes.

    Bloomberg is entirely untested, so in our rush to say “yes” to him, we are setting ourselves up for a massive self-own. The stop-and-frisk tapes are the tip of the iceberg:

  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I agree Bloomberg hasn’t weathered attacks yet. And I look forward to seeing how that plays out. Mike doesn’t strike me as a great debater.

    As for stop and frisk, let’s watch the polls of African-American voters. If it’s a deal-breaker for them, I get it. They’re loyal, strategic voters, this issue is primarily their call. If they decide Bloomberg can win, and that’s enough to get them to swallow hard and accept his past, I don’t think it’s my job to white-splain their error.

    Good point about ‘get to yes.’ That’s definitely part of the Bloomberg boomlet. Right now Nate Silver has Klobuchar with a 0.1% chance of winning, Biden with 11% and Buttigieg at 5%. Maybe one of them breaks through with voters and becomes the chosen one to stop Bernie. But maybe not, and the odds aren’t encouraging.

  14. Andy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Bernie has a ton of baggage and most American voters are still hostile to “socialism” which Bernie embraces. This is a guy who honeymooned in the USSR and is on record saying nice things about all kinds of left-wing dictators. The attack ads write themselves. This is before getting to actual policy where he is vulnerable to most voters as well.

    Just speaking personally, I won’t vote for Sanders. If he gets the nomination I will vote third-party or write-in a candidate. Sanders and Trump have no business being in the WH and I will not support either one of them with my vote.

  15. Jen says:

    I love Buttigieg, but I want him to take one for the team this year. He’s young enough that he can do this again in a few years (hopefully 8, possibly 4, depending on whether we can get ourselves to nominate someone who has a shot at winning). The fact that he’s not moved an inch after being able to say he won IA and came in 2nd in NH says that he has a national ceiling that he’s hit. If he can bow out gracefully, hopefully in a way that is logical and makes sense to his supporters, he could build on this in the future. I’m still thoroughly disgusted with the way he’s been attacked, particularly with the fawning over Bloomberg who should face just as fierce a challenge with minority voters. That fact seems to indicate that Buttigieg being gay IS a factor with minority voters, and that’s unacceptable to me.

    It’s killing me that Biden is still on this list in 2nd place, because he just doesn’t seem to be doing anything right. I don’t know if it’s the team he’s assembled, or if he truly doesn’t care, but his campaign seems to lack direction. It’s like he showed up, did nothing, sucked up all of the oxygen in the room, which starved other candidates and hurt their viability because they all thought Biden was going to be the nominee. This led to smaller, less mainstream candidates garnering niche support.

    It’s like Biden is Walmart and other big-box stores (aka mainstream candidates, like Harris) couldn’t break through, but all of these boutique stores (aka Yang, Buttigieg) had enough of a different brand that they did break through the clutter.

  16. Michael Cain says:

    @James Joyner:
    In terms of blocking Sanders’ agenda, consider this: under any realistic scenario where the Democrats win a majority in the Senate, nine of that majority will be from the Mountain West, one from WV, and a couple from states like NC or IA. M4A is dead on arrival; free college is dead on arrival; a ten-year crash program to eliminate fossil fuel use is dead on arrival; the legislative filibuster is unlikely to be overturned.

  17. Jen says:

    @Michael Cain: Exactly. This is what I don’t seem to get about his supporters–they are all in on “revolution!” without seeming to realize that nope, it’s virtually guaranteed that we’ll have the same gridlock.

    This is why I have said that any candidate who is touting M4A, or free college, or any other progressive craft project of the day, needs to explain not just how they will PAY for the program, they have to tell me how they expect to PASS the program.

    Making lofty statements is fine, but the reality is none of this stuff has a prayer of passing. And when it doesn’t, people get disillusioned in politicians, “the system,” etc., and we end up with a knucklehead like Trump. Unrealistic campaign proposals are a surefire way to destroy faith.

  18. Gustopher says:


    Exactly. This is what I don’t seem to get about his supporters–they are all in on “revolution!” without seeming to realize that nope, it’s virtually guaranteed that we’ll have the same gridlock.

    Worse than the same gridlock. Bernie will be fighting Republicans and Democrats, and hasn’t shown himself to be good at compromise. I assume a Bernie presidency leads to a few judges and otherwise a big missed opportunity.

    And lots of stomping around claiming a mandate and complaining that Manchin is opposing the will of the people.

    It might be a missed opportunity that saves American democracy though. Lesser of two evils and all that.

  19. Andy says:


    For legislation, yes, his biggest agenda items would probably get blocked but the mere fact of winning the election gives at least the perception of a mandate and is likely to drag most Democrats to support many of his proposals. In this era of negative partisanship, Democratic legislators who are forced to choose between the GoP and a President Sanders will choose a President Sanders.

    Additionally, the office of the Presidency still holds a lot of discretionary authority, which Sanders has pledged to use to its fullest to implement his agenda. The assumption that Sanders would not be able to get anything done is contradicted by the example of President Trump.

  20. Chip Daniels says:

    At this point in 2008, Republicans were savoring the prospect of McCain handily beating the obviously unelectable black man with a Muslim name;
    At this point in 2016, Democrats were savoring the prospect of beating the obviously unelectable Donald Trump.

    I am not convinced anyone is “unelectable” any more.

  21. Jen says:

    @Andy: Much of a Sander’s agenda would get challenged in court, recently stacked to the hilt with Trump appointees.

    I will, of course, support Sanders if he’s the nominee. But I don’t think anyone should kid themselves about how much could truly be accomplished.

  22. James Joyner says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    At this point in 2008, Republicans were savoring the prospect of McCain handily beating the obviously unelectable black man with a Muslim name;
    At this point in 2016, Democrats were savoring the prospect of beating the obviously unelectable Donald Trump.

    I’m too lazy to go back and check the timing of these. I don’t ever recall a point in the 2008 race where McCain seemed inevitable. But the economic collapse under a Republican President doomed whatever small chance he might otherwise have had.

    I plead guilty to thinking Clinton would easily beat Trump. It turns out, she did. Just not in the way the mattered because of the weirdness of the Electoral College system.

  23. Chip Daniels says:

    @James Joyner:
    Actually I was remembering Peggy Noonan’s “Let us savor” comment, and it was earlier than that, before Barack caught fire in Iowa. Back when such a person seemed wildly improbable.

    “I do not know what the Democratic Party spent, in toto, on the 2004 election, but what they seem to have gotten for it is Barack Obama. Let us savor.”

    Edited to add: I remember SNL doing a hilarious skit with Kate MacKinnon as HRC, celebrating with champagne after the Access Hollywood tape came out.
    Because, as all sensible people knew, it was over for Trump. No way in hell America would elect someone like THAT.

  24. Scott F. says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    The only unifying message I see that could wrest both the WH and the Senate out of Republican hands is the anti-corruption message. That the reason the People can’t get the things they need from government (really regardless of what they want) is that the institutions of government have been corrupted by a lawless Trump, his crooked AG and his GOP enablers, so that the Powerful keep theirs and everyone else is out of luck.

    The Democrat who can credibly make the case for a national cleansing and who can do so with passion throughout the general election campaign could run the table come November. Policy arguments will not be the battlefield for 2020 – it’s going to be a gutter brawl.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    I am not convinced anyone is “unelectable” any more.

    I concur. And I’d add Reagan and Bill Clinton to your examples. Reagan was considered by many too right-wing to win a national election; the memories of Goldwater still lingered. And while Clinton was an unabashed moderate, he was so beset by scandals during the primary that a lot of people were predicting he’d get chewed up and spit out in the general election.

    I am also sick and tired of hearing people bring up McGovern in 1972 and Mondale in 1984. These examples are invoked by people who are, willfully or otherwise, totally ignoring the historical context. First of all, Nixon in 1972 and Reagan in 1984 were extremely popular. It’s likely no Dem could have beaten them. And Mondale was hardly “far-left”; he was a mainstream liberal who was Carter’s vp. (If there was any candidate in the ’80s who might be roughly analogous with Bernie, it was Jesse Jackson.)

    Most of all, it was a totally different era, and today there’s no way anyone is getting anything close to a 49-state landslide. I said that when people were predicting a Goldwater-level rout for Trump back in 2016, and I’m saying it now about Bernie. You can argue Bernie would be a relatively weak nominee (I’ll get to that in a moment). But there’s no way in hell he or any other Dem nominee is losing New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, California, Washington, or Oregon–to start with. Anyone who seriously believes there’s the remotest chance of any of those states becoming competitive this year has no idea what they’re talking about.

    The fact is, the ’50s through the ’80s were a period of extreme flux politically, with the Dems trapped in a transitional state in which their traditional Southern base had abandoned them, but the traditionally Republican states of the Northeast and Pacific Coast had not yet abandoned the GOP. Throughout this period there was a two-tiered system that no longer exists in which the Southern states remained solidly Democratic at the state level but tended to vote Republican in presidential elections–except when the Dem nominee was one of those local politicians, as was the case with Carter and Clinton. The picture of which Dems made stronger candidates thus had as much to do with region as ideology: it was more Southern vs. Yankee than it was moderate vs. liberal. Granted, those two scales were interrelated, as Dems from the South tended to be more moderate. But in 1992 MA Senator Paul Tsongas ran to Clinton’s right during the primaries. Had he won the nomination, would he have beaten Bush? I suspect so, but he wouldn’t have picked up all those Southern states Clinton won. The 2000 election when Gore lost the entire South (apart from being robbed of Florida), even his home state of Tennessee, was a sign that the two-tiered system had collapsed. It wasn’t until Obama that Dems found a path to the White House without the South. We’ve gotten so used to the Obama map by now we tend to forget he’s literally the only Dem in history thus far to win in this way.

    Of course, Obama was not left-wing the way Bernie is (though he was often depicted that way, and there were predictions he was “the new McGovern,” especially because his main appeal to the left came from his opposition to the Iraq War). For that matter, McGovern himself (who somehow managed to win several Senate elections in S. Dakota, not exactly a bastion of Bolshevism) was nowhere near as left-wing as he’s often been depicted. There really has never been a candidate as left-wing as Bernie in the modern era (William Jennings Bryan might be the closest analogue historically). Now if you’re of the belief that the farther left you are, the weaker a candidate you’ll be, of course you think a Bernie nomination would be a disaster for the Dems. But I’m not convinced that’s the case, and I think people are making some of the same mistakes they made when they assumed Trump was too far to the right to win.

    The problem comes from an overly linear view of politics. Trump was extreme in some very important ways, but he also abandoned (in rhetoric if not in substance) several traditional GOP positions. He vociferously attacked the Iraq War and much of Bush’s foreign policy. He promised not to cut Medicare or Social Security. He defended single-payer in principle. He defended LGBT rights. He attacked free trade.

    According to CNN’s exit polls, of voters who wanted the next president to “be more liberal” than Obama, 23% voted for Trump. In Michigan it was 41%.

    Trump DID lose the votes of some traditional Republicans who were horrified by him. But he gained more than he lost from outside the normal GOP coalition. I suspect the same is true about Bernie, with regard to the Democratic coalition–albeit for not quite the same reasons.

    My sense over the years–though it’s based largely on anecdote–is that Bernie attracts some old-fashioned cultural conservatives who have felt alienated by the Democratic Party over the last couple of generations. Bernie is no cultural conservative himself (he supported gay marriage years before it was cool), but he seems to de-emphasize the issue in favor of economics (he campaigned for a pro-life Dem in 2017), and his record on gun control is surprisingly moderate–if you recall Hillary attacked him from the left on this issue.

    He probably would lose some support from people who traditionally vote Dem, but he’s so odd that I think he has some of that Trump-like ability to break through the standard party coalitions.

  26. Ken_L says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think Sanders would excite the Democratic base—probably more so than a lot of the other candidates.

    On the contrary, a lot of the Democratic base would be in despair. Commenters at sites like Lawyers Guns & Money are almost universally opposed to Biden, but a majority is also aghast at the prospect of a Sanders nomination. Quite apart from any other reservations, there’s a good chance he’ll be dead before the ’22 mid-terms.