An important dynamic as we head toward the ABC Democratic Debate on Thursday, the race is becoming more and more relegated to a battle between Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. CBS News, in partnership with YouGov, their polling partner, released a slew of new data across several early primary and caucus states to try and give a detailed view of the Democratic primary race. Some of the state-level polling shows a toss-up in New Hampshire, while the data also points to Biden’s strong foundation of South Carolina as a firewall.
The real lesson to take from this polling is that Biden has continued to hold anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the field, but Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are beginning to catch up and sometimes surpass.
At the moment, at least according to this data, Iowa looks shaky for Biden, while Warren squeaks by in New Hampshire, then Biden takes South Carolina, and Bernie has a shot in Nevada:
State by state in vote preference, New Hampshire now sees Warren just slightly up over Biden and Sanders in first-choice preference there, effectively making the primary there a three-way contest. Biden holds onto a small edge over Sanders in first-choice preference in Iowa to go with that still-sizable advantage in South Carolina. Meanwhile, Sanders has a narrow edge over Biden in Nevada.
Here’s a look at the numbers from YouGov state-by-state, which only include candidates that rank higher than 2% polling support:
Biden 29%, Sanders 26%, Warren 17%, Buttigieg 7%, Harris 6%
Warren 27%, Biden 26%, Sanders 25%, Buttigieg 8%, Harris 7%
Sanders 29%, Biden 27%, Warren 18%, Harris 6%, Buttigieg 4%, O’Rourke 3%
Biden 43%, Sanders 18%, Warren 14%, Harris 7%, Buttigieg 4%
Those numbers reflect a very top-heavy race right now with three main contenders controlling roughly 80 to 90 percent of the entire Democratic primary electorate, depending on the state. The CBS News analysis calls this good news for Warren rather than painting it as bad news for Biden. Their reasoning for that logic is because while the numbers show Warren improving, they don’t necessarily show Biden declining.
That is .. one way to put a shine on these numbers. Biden is doing well in South Carolina, though he’s not hitting 50% yet in these numbers which means there is a lot of room for improvement by Sanders and Warren. He’s also still holding down Iowa but is close to or within the margin of error with Sanders. Nevada is a toss-up as is New Hampshire.
None of this is to say that the other candidates on stage this Thursday will be irrelevant. Sen. Kamala Harris is still picking up support, as is South Bend Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg. However, their support is minimal right now when stacked up against the trifecta of Bernie/Biden/Warren. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke still has some life in Nevada, perhaps his last, best hope of keeping a campaign alive past the October Democratic debate which he has already qualified for on account of his September debate qualification.
The entire CBS/YouGov Battleground polling data is extensive, and I’d encourage you to give it a look and glance over the delegate projections based on polls of early primary states that vote up to and including Super Tuesday, on March 3, 2020.
At the moment, Biden still edges out the competition, but not by much. The race is feeling more wide open than it ever was, and perhaps that is a testament to Biden’s weakness as a front runner and the desire by Democratic voters to avoid a similar calamity to 2016. Minds are still being made up, and candidates are still being considered, the Fall debates will be critical.
The September Democratic debate takes place this Thursday at 8 pm ET on ABC. Look for more details in the coming days or visit the 2020 Democratic Debate schedule for everything you need to know right now.