Could there still be hope for Gabbard to make the December debate stage? The latest numbers out from a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll pegs her at 4% nationally, just barely meeting the requirement as a qualifying poll and one which is part of the DNC’s approved list of pollsters. The other big headline out of this poll, aside from Sen. Kamala Harris only hitting 3% nationally, is how former vice president Joe Biden’s lead has been cut in half over Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Biden’s still holding the top spot, but with less than one-third of voters according to Suffolk:
Almost exactly one year before Election Day – and 96 days before the opening Iowa caucuses – Biden was backed by 26% of likely Democratic primary and caucus voters in the survey. Warren was second at 17%, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 13% and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 10%.
Biden’s lead over Warren, now 9 percentage points, was 18 points in the last USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll, taken in late August. His standing has fallen by 6 points since then; hers has risen by 3.
In a sign of the prospect for changes ahead, 18% of likely Democratic voters were undecided. Among those with a preferred candidate, a 57% majority said their minds weren’t firmly made up.
The Biden trend has been confirmed by other polls, Warren continues to chip away at his support but it’s possible her momentum has slowed somewhat. She improved steadily over the past six months but now has hit a plateau of sorts as Biden continues to at least hold one-quarter of voters or higher according to recent polls.
Gabbard tops Harris
The write-up on the poll from USA TODAY doesn’t even mention the fact that Harris slipped below Gabbard’s number, a result which is devastating for the California senator.
They were followed by Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard at 4% – up from less than 1% last time – and entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 3%.
California Sen. Kamala Harris was also at 3%, a drop of 3 points from August. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, credited with a strong performance in the last debate, was at 2% – not a big number, but better than in August, when she registered no support. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also was at 2%.
Harris has been dropping elsewhere, but she hadn’t yet hit such a low of 3%. If this trend holds, Harris has been kicked out of the middle tier by some voters and is now fighting to mop up limited support from the bottom tier.
In a related story to Harris’ drop nationally, her prospects among voters in her home state aren’t much better. California’s decision to move their primary up to Super Tuesday was supposed to bring the state more in play, and perhaps serve as a backstop for Harris. That scenario hasn’t yet panned out, according to Politico:
Kamala Harris is running a distant fourth in her home state of California. Julián Castro, who rested much of his candidacy on making inroads in Nevada, remains a polling asterisk there. Three Westerners — former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and California Rep. Eric Swalwell — have already dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary, and two more — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet — are still trying to find their footing.
If Harris can’t stay competitive in her home state, she doesn’t have a path anywhere else on the map according to the numbers from Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
For Tulsi Gabbard, however, this poll breathes a semblance of life into her campaign and at least gets her on the scoreboard toward the December debate. She’ll still need to hit the donor mark and get some more polls, but it’s a step toward that direction.