Sure, national polls aren’t as important as state-level polls this early in the primary season, but they do offer a glimpse into the minds of voters at a broader level. For months now, former vice president Joe Biden has typically remained at least ten points, usually higher, ahead of his closest rival in the Democratic primary. More recently, depending on the poll, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been challenging Sen. Bernie Sanders for the second-place spot behind Biden.
The latest release from YouGov, a polling outfit which has shown Warren’s numbers higher than some others, finds Biden and Warren in a statistical tie among registered voters in their latest national poll.
The result is brutal for Biden and sees him holding the top spot with a mere 21%, followed by Warren at 20%, Bernie Sanders at 16%, Sen. Kamala Harris at 8%, and former representative Beto O’Rourke tied at 5% with Mayor Pete Buttigieg to round out the top six.
Here’s the larger field breakdown courtesy of Political Polls on twitter, a great account to follow if you’re interested in being alerted to the latest numbers coming in from all the various polling firms:
National Democratic Primary:
Biden 21 (-1 in a week)
Warren 20 (+4)
Sanders 16 (+3)
Harris 8 (-)
O'Rourke 5 (+3)
Buttigieg 5 (-3)
Booker 2 (+1)
Gabbard 2 (-1)
Yang 1@TheEconomist /@YouGov https://t.co/WbnJkHHkG7
— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) August 14, 2019
A one-point difference in a poll like this is a statistical tie for Biden and Warren, and if the numbers are corroborated by other polling outfits, the shift in the race would be seismic and indicate some kind of coalescing of the anti-Biden vote.
If you look at the numbers from RealClearPolitics for the national polling averages, Warren has been making steady progress. The question is whether this progress is real and will start to build a floor of support for her, or whether these numbers are an August-outlier when fewer Democratic primary voters are truly paying attention to the race during this heavy vacation month.
As pointed out by HillReporter.com, Biden was maintaining a larger lead over Warren earlier this month in the same poll:
The wide number of candidates to choose from — two dozen candidates were offered to respondents in the poll to pick — makes it difficult for a front-runner to distance themselves from the rest of the pack this early on. Yet Biden had a much larger lead on Warren in another Economist/YouGov poll earlier this month, when he had a six-point edge over her at the time.
The current polling data suggests that she might be on the minds of more voters, in terms of their second picks, than even Biden is. In a question asking respondents who they were considering while making their choices, 50 percent said Warren was one of their serious choices, while 47 percent said Biden was.
Following the second Democratic debate in late July, Warren began to see an increase in support while Kamala Harris saw her numbers get softer. At this point, it’s undeniable that Warren has been notably successful in resurrecting a rocky start to her campaign. She’s made progress toward positioning herself as the best option for voters who want a more progressive option to Joe Biden, but don’t feel Bernie Sanders could win a national campaign.
Back in June, her name started topping Bernie and she edged him out in two polls. However, back in February of this year, her campaign looked stalled and it was clear she would have to find a new path forward and start blazing a new lane for herself in the primary.
The hard work she has put in in terms of heavy media appearances, limited campaign stops, and an emphasis on legislative proposals is now paying dividends in terms of her measurably widening support. Watch for new polls over the next week or two to see if the YouGov numbers are a corollary to other polling firms.