Days before the Iowa caucuses, a national USC Dornsife/LA Times poll shows Friday former Vice President Joe Biden retaining the Democratic primary lead, ahead of Sens. Bernie Sanders, Independent-Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, Democrat-Massachusetts, by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.
Results from the first poll of 2020 reflect some important changes in the primary contest, including the late entrance of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The results show Biden retaining a strong lead among the Democratic primary candidates, said Robert Shrum, director of the Center for the Political Future at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“These numbers show Joe Biden’s continuing strength and if he wins in Iowa, he has a pretty good path to the nomination,” said Shrum. “But if Biden performs poorly in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, it remains to be seen if this support is a firewall against early losses.”
Poll participants were asked who they would vote for if various Democratic party candidates were running against Trump in the general election. In each of the head-to-head matchups, Trump topped out at 41% support from those planning to vote or who leaned toward voting in the general election.
In a Trump-Biden contest, 49% said they would vote for Biden and 40% said they would vote for Trump. In a matchup with Sanders, Sanders drew 47% support while Trump received 40%. Paired with Warren, 45% said they’d vote for Warren, versus 41% for Trump.
“It’s significant that Trump is only at about 40% of support against any of the Democrats we tested and against Joe Biden. Trump is in landslide loss territory,” said Shrum.
Center for the Political Future co-director Mike Murphy said the results show the surprising potential strength of Sanders if he were to face Trump in the general election.
“I think it’s significant that Bernie Sanders is beating Trump in this poll. The idea that Bernie is a stone-cold campaign loser against Trump, is not what this poll is saying,” said Murphy.
The poll shows that fewer than a quarter of women Democratic primary voters said they would vote for Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat-Minnesota, if the primary or caucus were held Friday. When asked which Democratic presidential primary candidates they would vote for, 18% of women chose Warren and 3% chose Klobuchar.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, meanwhile, found that Sen. Bernie Sanders has gained ground in the Democratic presidential race and is now tied with Biden among the party’s primary voters nationally.
Sanders was the first choice of 27% of Democratic primary voters, essentially tied with Biden, who had 26%. Biden led in all previous Journal/NBC News polls of the 2020 primary race.
Warren slipped to a distant third place, with 15% support. In the prior two surveys, she was about even with Sanders for second place. Sanders has gained support by drawing voters from Warren, the Journal poll found.
The results suggest a substantial reordering of the race in the days before Democrats kick off the presidential nominating process with Monday’s caucuses in Iowa, where several recent surveys show Sanders vying with Biden for the lead.
The survey also finds that Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor, has jumped into fourth place nationally on the strength of an ad barrage costing $280 million so far, according to the political-ad tracker Kantar/CMAG, The Journal reported. Some 60% of Democratic primary voters have seen a Bloomberg ad, the new poll found, far more than have seen ads by any other candidate.
Bloomberg had 9% support nationally in the survey, according to the Journal. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew 7%, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar had 5% and Andrew Yang, 4%.
The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 428 registered voters who said they would vote in a Democratic presidential primary or caucus. The poll was conducted Jan. 26-29 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.74 percentage points.