Author’s Note: Just after the publication of this post, Sen. Cory Booker announced he was dropping out of the Democratic primary race.
For months now, I have been regularly updating colleagues with a snapshot of the Democratic primary campaign and previews of what might happen during the general election campaign. Now I’m sharing that view of the campaign with you.
To do that, I’ve used the table you see below.
The first column notes the candidates’ rank in the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of nationwide polling. The others, in order, are the candidates’ names, their nationwide RCP polling average, age, years in politics, highest office achieved, whether or not they’re in the next debate, and the change in polling support from my last update. Changes are color-coded, with dark green being the greatest gains and dark red the most significant losses.
Who’s Gone, Who’s Left?
Thirteen candidates remain in the race for the nomination. Already 15 have dropped out, including most recently Marianne Williamson. Here’s the list of those who have dropped out:
- Marianne Williamson
- Julian Castro
- Kamala Harris
- Steve Bullock
- Wayne Messam
- Joe Sestak
- Robert “Beto” O’Rourke
- Tim Ryan
- Bill De Blasio
- Kirsten Gillibrand
- Jay Inslee
- John Hickenlooper
- Mike Gravel
- Eric Swalwell
- Seth Moulton
Who’s Winning Now?
As you can see in the table, Joe Biden is leading the Democratic primary as he has done in the RCP average for the entire campaign except for one day, October 8, when Elizabeth Warren led the race by .2 points.
Biden is the clear leader, and he has maintained polling near 30%. Biden also regularly polls best among the Democrats in hypothetical matchups against President Trump. Since that October day, when Warren briefly led the race, Biden has increased his support, and Warren has tumbled from 26.6% to merely 14.8% today.
Also, during that time, Mayor Pete Buttigieg saw his numbers surge, peaking at 11.8% support, only to have them fall back to the mid-single-digits once again after a nasty back-and-forth with Warren left both candidates worse off than they had been.
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has used overwhelming amounts of his own money on advertising to build his support to 5.8%. Perhaps he would have more support, but Bloomberg’s personal profile–New York billionaire who treats women questionably–seems unoriginal.
Currently, the greatest threat to Biden (aside from his gaffe-prone self) is Bernie Sanders. Sanders has come on strong since he suffered a heart attack in the first week of October that nearly derailed his campaign. He’s now leading in RCP poll averages for both Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders is the only other candidate besides Biden to enjoy support from primary voters of greater than 20%. If current trends continue (they rarely do), Democratic voters in 2020 could face a very similar choice to the one they faced in 2016, only this time substituting Biden for Clinton as the establishment candidate.
In the State Races
In Iowa, Biden and Sanders are gaining ground, while Buttigieg and Warren see their surges dissipate. Far below, Amy Klobuchar is attempting to engineer a miracle. Her poll support has risen to 7% in Iowa, but that’s not enough if she wants to break into the top tier of candidates, or even just collect some delegates.
In New Hampshire, it’s nearly the same story. Sanders and Biden are rising to the top of the pack. The difference in the Live Free or Die State is that Buttigieg and Warren seem to have stemmed their polling declines, and are holding steady in contention for some delegates. Klobuchar is next in polling after the leaders in New Hampshire as well, but is much further back than in Iowa at only 4.5% support.
Bloomberg isn’t competing in either of the first two states. Biden has held strong leads in Nevada and South Carolina and continues to do so.
The Big Show
The most important votes will come November 3, 2020. The man guaranteed to be on the ballot is President Donald Trump.
Today, Trump’s net disapproval (the percentage of people who disapprove of the job he’s doing subtracted by the percent of people who approve of the job he’s doing) is 8.1. This isn’t red-alert territory for Trump, but he’ll want to get his approval numbers up to the 48%-49% area (they’re averaging about 44.8% today) before the election to feel more confident about victory.
What’s in Store
Each week I’ll give you a rundown of polling changes and the most critical new developments in the race for 2020.