Normally I would hesitate to extrapolate much from one poll—as the whole mathematical point of polling is to combine them into something of an average—but Quinnipiac is one of the three best pollsters according to FiveThirtyEight, and they just published a poll that seems to track along a recent shift in the early 2020 race (granted, it’s not that early—because we live in hell—the first 2020 Democratic debate will take place on June 26, 2019).
Elizabeth Warren’s detailed policy and affable personality are really starting to attract supporters. This poll should have her strategists overjoyed. Here are the 8 biggest revelations from a poll depicting a potential shift underway in the Democratic electorate.
1. Elizabeth Warren Has Serious Momentum
Let’s start with the headline. This could be an outlier—but this is Warren’s highest polling mark yet—and at the very least, it demonstrates a serious rise from the 4% she hit in this same poll nearly two months ago. Here’s everyone above 10% support amongst Democrats and Democratic leaners today:
Joe Biden — 35%
Bernie Sanders — 16%
Elizabeth Warren — 13%
Don’t know — 11%
You’ll notice that new media darling, Pete Buttigieg, is not amongst this group. His bubble seems to have popped, plummeting him down to 5% in this new poll, trailing Kamala Harris at 9%. After Mayor Pete, no one else in the field surpasses Cory Booker’s 3%. It’s early, but Democrats seem like we are coalescing around a final four: Uncle Joe, Bernie, Liz, and Kamala.
If this poll is indicative of a larger trend, it means that Warren is stealing votes from Mayor Pete, Bernie and Biden, which is about as wide of an ideological constituency as you can attract in this Democratic primary.
2. Lots of Bernie’s Support Comes from People Not Paying Attention to the Presidential Campaign
Quinnipiac asked people if they are paying a lot, some, or little to no attention to the campaign, and then who they supported—and here is how the top four shook out through that line of questioning:
A Lot, Some, and Little/None each add up to 100%, so when Joe Biden has 42% of A Lot, it means that he has the support of 42% of people who are paying a lot of attention to the election.
A Lot: 42%
A Lot: 8%
A Lot: 15%
A Lot: 9%
I think this is a helpful demonstration of the diversity of Bernie’s support, as it is usually characterized by way-too-online leftists like us here at Paste politics. In fact, a huge chunk of Sanders’ support comes from folks who likely couldn’t name more than five people in this race. A lot of liberals have interpreted this segment of polling to try to show how thin Bernie’s support is, but I would assert that winning that many people who are not paying attention to the race is emblematic of a candidate who has a healthy lead amongst an under-represented constituency in our political and media environment. Those paying “a lot” of attention to the 2020 race in 2019 are likely partisan Democrats, so of course they will flock to Biden. Hell, I cover politics for a living, and I would say I am on the high end of paying “some” attention to the 2020 race.
3. The Vocal Opposition to Bernie Is Very Loud, But Not Very Big
When asked the question of whom Democratic voters would be most displeased with, Joe Biden emerged with the largest bloc of fervent opposition by far—more than doubling the pack that Bernie finds himself in. Here is the answer to how many Democrats would be “very” unhappy with various candidates as the Democratic nominee for president.
Joe Biden — 16%
Bernie Sanders — 8%
Beto O’Rourke — 7%
Tulsi Gabbard — 7%
Kirsten Gillibrand — 6%
Pete Buttigieg — 6%
Jay Inslee — 6%
Eight others — 5%
4. Bernie Is More Popular with Nonwhite People than White People
This is nothing new, but that hasn’t stopped the BS trope that Bernie cannot win minorities, so it’s worth repeating again. Here are his favorable and unfavorable ratings amongst all white, black and Latinx people (not just Democrats).
White: 34% favorable, 57% unfavorable
Black: 66% favorable, 19% unfavorable
Latinx: 49% favorable, 30% unfavorable
If you are a white person who asserts that Bernie is not popular with minority groups, you are likely projecting your beliefs on to those groups you are trying to defend.
4. Elizabeth Warren Is Very Popular in the Democratic Party
Back in March when she was polling at 4%, Warren’s favorability ratings were not great.
Her favorability ratings compare very well to frontrunners like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The dynamic that exists in most* of this polling is that everyone’s unfavorability ratings in the Democratic Party are somewhere around 10%, and their favorability ratings express their general support.
For example, Joe Biden is the ceiling at 82% favorable amongst Democratic voters, with Bernie not far behind at 73%. Beto is stuck at 39%, with 45% of Democrats who haven’t heard enough to make a determination as to whether they like him or not.
Elizabeth Warren is at 63% favorable, and Kamala Harris is rocking a 58% favorable to 8% unfavorable ratio. Again, we see that there are four candidates who are beginning to emerge above the rest of the pack.
5. *I Put an Asterisk Next to “Most” Because We Need to Laugh at Bill de Blasio
Pretty much every Democrat is above water in their favorable/unfavorable dynamic. Despite all the mud-slinging going on online, most of it is not sticking to any of these candidates yet in the real world.
Except for one.
Bill de Blasio has done an impressive job building a coalition of no one by angering the dominant centrist wing of the Democratic Party by claiming to be a leftist, and then pissing off the leftist uprising reshaping the party by not actually governing as a leftist. Given that he is the mayor of New York City, you would think his name recognition alone would gain him a fair amount of support amongst Democrats/Democratic leaners, right?
Not so much!
Bill de Blasio
Haven’t heard enough: 53%
That unfavorability rating is remarkable. It’s 62% higher than the highest unfavorability rating in this poll: Bernie at 20%. Warren is next at 16%, followed by Tulsi Gabbard at 13%—proving that a significant chunk of Democratic voters truly do dislike the left.
6. 51% of Democratic Voters Describe the Economy as “Good”
This is more than the 44% of Democrats who say the economy is currently “not so good” or “poor.” Granted, this is always a stilted polling question because due to the hyperpartisan nature of our politics, Republicans and Democrats believe the economy to be better when their party occupies the White House. But this is still a revealing figure about the Democratic Party. It used to be the party of the little guy, but now we measure economic success based off a record stock market rally while valuing the politics of the professional class. Being poor in America is quite literally deadly, and a big reason why the Democrats lost to Trump lies in the majority of Democrats who believe this Rube Goldberg machine of constant upward wealth transfers that we call an economy is “good.”
7. Warren’s Appeal Among Economic Classes Is Different From Bernie and Biden
Given that Joe Biden advocates staunchly conservative establishment policies and radically believes his Republican “friends” will have “an epiphany” once Trump leaves office, and Bernie and Warren both push populist policies designed to help poor people, you may think that their support follows their policies.
Joe Biden is leading in all economic classes, because he is leading everyone by a healthy margin right now, but the dynamic below reveals a larger truth about where these candidates’ support generally comes from. Warren’s wonkiness is resonating with the same professional class of Democrats who recently fell in love with Buttigieg, and Biden and Bernie are taking most votes of Democrats making less than $50,000 per year.
Same dynamic here as #2, where support in each income bracket adds up to 100%, and the percentage is the amount of people from that income bracket supporting that candidate.
Less than $50k: 40%
Over $100k: 31%
Less than $50k: 21%
Over $100k: 13%
Less than $50k: 10%
Over $100k: 15%
American politics is a strange business.
8. Independents Hate Trump
This was one of the biggest headlines from the poll, which is why we wrote up a separate article about it. A stunning 54% of political independents—a constituency larger than the number of self-described Democrats or Republicans—would “definitely not vote” for Trump in 2020 according to this poll. Just 21% of Independents say they will “definitely” vote for him. If I were a Trump strategist for 2020, that figure would haunt not just my dreams, but my every waking moment.
Trump is eminently beatable. Democrats can afford to be choosy with our nominee. All four major Democratic candidates—Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren—can and should beat Trump. He is the most unpopular incumbent of our lifetimes, and while many of the revelations on the left contained in this poll could easily change by the time that voting begins, the anti-Trump dynamic amongst Independents will “definitely” not. This is our election to lose, Democrats.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.