What goes up must come down, right? Well in some instances, the “down” side is quite pronounced. Quinnipiac University has been polling the 2020 Democratic primary once a month to give a 30-day snapshot of the race. In October, Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted some big numbers, claiming the national lead over former vice president Joe Biden. Jump into November, following two debates, and the trend has entirely reversed with Warren’s support taking a nosedive.
According to the November numbers released on Tuesday, Warren’s support has been cut in half over a month:
Biden receives 24 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets 16 percent, Warren receives 14 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders gets 13 percent.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who just entered the race, receives 3 percent as do Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Sen. Cory Booker, businessman Andrew Yang, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, and Sen. Michael Bennet each receive 2 percent. No other candidate tops one percent. Eleven percent are undecided.
In an October 24 poll, Warren received 28 percent, Biden had 21 percent, Sanders was at 15 percent, and Buttigieg got 10 percent.
Let’s unpack these numbers a bit. For starters, Biden is back on top, albeit with a mere one-quarter of voters. His numbers haven’t fully recovered in Quinnipiac, but at least for his sake, he’s still in the top spot even though his support might be softening.
The pollster paints this is a three-way tie for second, but that is a very different race than it was a month ago when Warren was rocketing into first place and appeared to be on the verge of running away with the contest if she remained unchallenged.
What changed between October and November? Apparently, according to the data, it was three words: Medicare For All.
There is more support among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic for allowing people to buy into Medicare than replacing the current system with Medicare for All, although both are popular among these voters. While 71 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners think it is a good idea to allow all adults the option of buying into Medicare, 59 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners think it is a good idea to remove the current health care system and replace it with a single payer system.
The proposal to entirely scrap the current healthcare system and replace it exclusively with a “Medicare For All” plan, according to the plan backed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, is not very popular across the board. The slightly more moderate plan, of implementing Medicare For All as an alternative option to compete alongside private insurance scores much higher with voters. In other words, it’s possible that Warren misjudged where Democratic voters were sitting in the primary.
After the October debate, some analysts pointed out that the entire Democratic field was moving toward the center which corresponds with the rise of Mayor Pete Buttigieg after his moderate rebellion.
Sure, it’s just one poll, but Warren has been losing support little by little across the board in other polls as well since her peak in early October.
Warren’s high point in the RCP polling average was 26.6% on Oct. 8. Since that time, her numbers have dropped down to the current number of 17.2% as of Nov. 26. In fact, as of today, Bernie Sanders has taken the second place position on average with 18.2%.
Primary campaigns tend to go through these trends as various candidates get noticed in the national spotlight. Voters aren’t settled on Biden so they’re exploring all their options. As each candidate gets some new time in the hot seat, their poll numbers tend to rise. Then as voters cool off to them, the race resets back to the norm with the overall front runner back in the lead. Biden’s still on very shaky ground, as he has been for months, but voters keep coming back.
We will be quiet here at Election Central for the Thanksgiving holiday (unless breaking election news warrants a story) but return to form on Friday to continue covering the race as we head into December.