The one consistency across the plane of the 2020 Democratic primary has been former vice president Joe Biden’s ability to maintain a national lead. Back in October, Sen. Elizabeth Warren briefly shot up and claimed a few good national polls, but the lead quickly dwindled leaving her in a worse position than before the bump. Biden has pretty much maintained the national lead despite falling numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire over the past month.
Then, in late January, something began to change. Now, with Quinnipiac University the most recent pollster to find Bernie Sanders with a national lead, something is happening in the primary field and it couldn’t be coming at a worse time for Biden.
Politico says Biden “plummets,” which is a good way to describe the once-solid floor of support he has enjoyed seeming to evaporate:
Former Vice President Joe Biden has plummeted in a new national poll out Monday that also shows Bernie Sanders with a clear lead among Democratic voters heading into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
The new Quinnipiac University poll, conducted after Sanders’ strong showing in the Iowa caucuses a week ago, has the Vermont senator boasting the support of 25 percent of Democratic voters, making an 8-point lead over Biden and a 4-point increase over the last national survey taken before the caucuses.
Biden dropped 9 points to 17 percent after his dismal performance in Iowa, followed close behind by former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who rose 7 points to 15 percent, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who dropped 1 point to 14 percent.
Here’s the full breakdown:
Quinnipiac University National Democratic Primary Poll
Conducted Feb 5-9 | Source
- Bernie Sanders – 25%
- Joe Biden – 17%
- Mike Blomberg 15%
- Elizabeth Warren – 14%
- Pete Buttigieg – 10%
- Amy Klobuchar – 4%
- Andrew Yang – 2%
- Tulsi Gabbard – 1%
- Tom Steyer – 1%
First off, aside from Biden’s crater, Bloomberg’s rise is also noteworthy, though not as meaningful as Sanders’ position at the top. If there is a downfall here, it’s that Sanders doesn’t command enough of the electorate nationally to make a brokered convention less likely. For that matter, neither did Biden. Sitting at less than 30% support in the Democratic primary where delegates are awarded proportionally means there could be a lot of candidates each with a good number of delegates but none crossing the threshold that could win them the nomination on the first round in Milwaukee.
Donald Trump skated through the Republican primary in 2016, usually winning no more than the high 20s or low 30s. The difference, though, is that the GOP awards delegates in a winner-take-all format which allowed Trump to accumulate delegates all to himself amid a divided field.
Sanders won’t have that luxury as he’ll be sharing delegates even if he outright wins a number of primaries starting in New Hampshire.
Where did Biden’s support go? Quinnipiac found some possible answers to that. In short, Biden is counting on black voters, but the ground may be shifting:
The survey also shows that Bloomberg is successfully eating into Biden’s popularity among black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc that had been considered the vice president’s firewall should he falter in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
While Biden is still holding onto his lead among black voters, according to the poll, his support has plummeted from 49 percent before the caucuses to 27 percent. Bloomberg, meanwhile, has rocketed into second place among black voters, with 22 percent support compared to 7 percent late last month.
Sanders has also improved among African-Americans, but Bloomberg seems to be enjoying the largest gains at Biden’s expense. If Bernie wins New Hampshire convincingly, he becomes an instant contender for Nevada and New Hampshire coupled with the rise in his national support.
Take all this as your lens for looking at the New Hampshire results. Biden’s floor of support may still be falling and by this time Tuesday evening, we’ll know where it might rest.