DemDaily: Shake Up and Surge at the Top Tier

September 18, 2019

In the first major presidential primary poll since last week's third Democratic primary debate, there appears to be a shake up in the top tier.

The September 13-16, 2019 NBCNews/WallStreetJournal poll of registered Democratic voters (MOE +/- 4.36%), shows Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren closing the gap to within 5% points of frontrunner Joe Biden, further distancing the two from the rest of the pack.

While the former Vice President still leads the horserace with 31%, up 5 points since July, Warren is at 25%, with a gain of 6 points. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' support rose only 1% in the same period, while California Senator Kamala Harris' dropped 8% points.

A Deeper Dive
The crosstabs or breakdown, however, reveal deeper divisions within the race not reflected in the topline numbers.

Among the three contenders in double digits, Biden strengths are with older, moderate, and African American voters, Warren does well with liberals, women and the college educated voters, and Sanders strongest constituency remains concentrated among Democrats under age 35.

African-American
Biden 49%, Warren 13%, Harris 10%, Sanders 5%, Yang 5%
Biden still maintains a substantial lead among black primary voters, although Warren has moved into the double digits in the critical voting block.

White
Warren 28%, Biden 27%, Sanders 14%, Buttigieg 8%, Harris 5%
Warren and Biden are head-to-head in the contest.

"Biden and Warren are only separated by a few points at the top but that obscures the big differences in their constituencies. Biden and Warren have the same level of support with white Democrats, but Biden has a big edge in the African American community, which comprised about 25% of the 2016 primary voters...     
and Warren's big lead among liberal voters demonstrates that she has successfully pre-empted the progressive base that fueled Bernie Sanders' challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016." -- Pollster Brad Bannon

Liberals
Warren 36%, Biden 19%, Sanders 19%, Harris 7%, Buttigieg 6%, Yang 3%, Klobuchar 3%, Booker 2%
Warren has a strong edge in what has been perceived as a two-horse race for the liberal base.

Moderates and Conservatives
Biden 42%, Warren 15%, Sanders 7%, Buttigieg 7%, Yang 6%, Harris 3%, Klobuchar 2%, Booker 2%
Biden leads almost three-to-one among moderate and conservative Democrats.

Elizabeth Warren drew a crowd of 20,000 in New York's Washington Square on Monday (@ewarren/Twitter)

Generational Divide
Age 18-34: Sanders 33%Warren 25%, Yang 11%, Biden 10%, Harris 7%, Buttigieg 5%
Age 65+Biden 46%, Warren 25%, Buttigieg 7%
While Sanders continues to lead among young voters, he registers only 2% among seniors, who are expected to out-vote millennials two-to-one in the primary.

Enthusiasm
Warren 35%, Sanders 25%, Biden 23%
Enthusiasm for Warren has surged, surpassing Sanders and Biden in recent months. This may be the most important takeaway from the poll, as an indicator of momentum and broad appeal that could continue to benefit her when others drop out.

There may still be room, however, for movement from the wings, with a full stage qualifying for the DNC's fourth Democratic Debate, scheduled for October 15th in Westerville, Ohio.

Says Bannon, "The fat lady hasn't sung yet. Only 9% of Democratic primary voters have a solid commitment to their choice and only a minority of Biden, Warren and Sanders supporters are enthusiastic about their favored candidate."

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