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Democrats Want a National Primary

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

Little change in 2020 Dem contest, Trump reelect

West Long Branch, NJ – There has not been a lot of change in the outlook for 2020 over the past month. President Donald Trump’s reelection prospects remain underwater, while Joe Biden holds onto a slim lead in what remains a persistently crowded field for the Democratic nomination. The latest national Monmouth University Poll also finds that most Democratic voters feel Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence over the nominating process and would rather see a single national primary. They also say that candidate gender is not a consideration in who would be the best choice to take on Trump – despite the continuing media storm over a conversation between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the subject. Among nine presidential candidates asked about in the poll, Andrew Yang is the only one with a net positive rating among all voters nationwide.

Just over 4 in 10 (41%) registered voters feel that Trump should be reelected, while a majority (57%) say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office. These numbers have not moved much over the past few months (43% reelect and 54% someone new in December and 42%-55% in November). The current results are also similar to late September when news about the president’s Ukraine call broke (39%-57%) and August when the House impeachment inquiry was just getting started (39%-57%).  Trump currently has a personal rating of 43% favorable and 55% unfavorable among registered voters – which includes 35% with a very favorable opinion and 51% with a very unfavorable opinion.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to be divided over who they want to face Trump in 2020. The top contenders include Biden (30%, from 26% in December), Sanders (23%, from 21%), and Warren (14%, from 17%). The next tier consists of Mike Bloomberg (9%, from 5% in December), Pete Buttigieg (6%, from 8%), and Amy Klobuchar (5%, from 4%). Yang is at 3% (identical to 3% in December), while none of the other five candidates included in the poll tops 1%.

“With the exception of Bloomberg’s entry, this race looks pretty much like it did six months ago. But that stability masks the potential for sizable swings once the first contests are held. Iowa and New Hampshire will play a major role in shaping national voter preferences,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

When asked about the party nomination calendar, Democratic voters express a desire for changing the current system of selecting their party’s nominee. From a list of four options, a clear majority of party voters (58%) say they would rather have a single national primary where every state would hold its contest on the same day. Just 11% would keep the calendar the way it is now, with Iowa and New Hampshire going first, followed by Nevada, South Carolina and then the Super Tuesday states. Another 15% would like to modify the current system by letting a few other states hold their contests on the same days as Iowa and New Hampshire and 10% would rather see grouped state primaries.  Even among voters who live in the early states that will vote through Super Tuesday, most would rather switch to a national primary (54%) rather than keep the current calendar as it is (14%) or even go with either of the other two modifications presented in the poll (14% other states join Iowa and New Hampshire and 11% grouped primaries).

A majority of Democrats (56%) nationally say that voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence on who wins the party nominations for president. Only 25% say these early states have the right amount of influence, while another 8% say they do not have enough influence. A key concern for Democrats is that the process does not give all types of voters in the party the same level of input on the outcome. Overall, 62% say that the current primary calendar gives some types of voters more influence than others, while just 26% say that all blocs of voters in the Democratic Party – including those with different political views as well as those from different racial and ethnic backgrounds – have an equal voice in the party’s presidential nomination process.

Democratic voters seem less concerned about the vetting effect of the current nomination calendar. Just 26% feel having Iowa and New Hampshire go first makes it less likely that the party will nominate the best candidate for president, while 12% say the current process is actually more likely to produce the best nominee. Half (50%) say that having these two states go first makes little difference in the likelihood that Democrats will nominate the best candidate for president.

“Most Democratic voters would like to see an overhaul of the primary calendar.  This view appears to be more out of a sense of fairness to the party’s diverse electorate than concerns they might have about the ability of Iowa and New Hampshire voters to properly vet the field,” said Murray.

Democratic voters in the first two 2020 states have a different attitude on some, but not all, of these questions. According to separate Monmouth polls conducted earlier this month, just 16% of likely Iowa caucusgoers and 20% of likely New Hampshire primary voters feel their states have too much influence on the nomination process, compared with 56% of Democrats nationwide who feel this way.  Fewer than 4 in 10 of these first-in-the-nation voters agree that the current calendar gives all types of Democrats an equal voice in the nomination (37% Iowa and 38% New Hampshire), which is still higher than party opinion nationwide (26%). On the other hand, most voters in these two states agree with their fellow Democrats that having Iowa and New Hampshire go first makes little difference in the likelihood that the party will nominate the best candidate for president (52% Iowa, 63% New Hampshire, and 50% national), although more national Democrats say the current calendar is less likely to produce the best possible nominee (26%, versus 9% in both Iowa and New Hampshire).

DEMOCRATIC VOTER VIEWS OF THE PARTY NOMINATION CALENDAR

 
Democratic/leaning
voters nationwide
Likely Iowa
caucusgoers
Likely New Hampshire
primary voters
Iowa & New Hampshire have:      
Too much influence 56% 16% 20%
Right amount of influence 25% 68% 63%
       
       
Current calendar gives:      
All Dem voters an equal voice 26% 37% 38%
Some voters more influence 62% 47% 47%
       
       
IA/NH produce “best candidate”:    
More likely 12% 31% 21%
Less likely 26% 9% 9%
Little difference 50% 52% 63%
       

Candidate gender has become a hot media topic in the Democratic race for president, but it does not appear to be a concern for the party’s electorate. About 3 in 4 Democrats (74%) say it does not matter whether the party nominates a man or a woman to run against Trump. The remainder are divided – 13% say it would be better to nominate a man, while 8% believe it would be better to nominate a woman.  These results are nearly identical to April 2019 (77% no difference, 12% better to nominate a man, 7% better to nominate a woman).  There are virtually no gender differences in responses to this question.

“It might make for great TV, but most Democrats seem immune to the ‘he said, he didn’t say’ dust-up between Sanders and Warren. Or at least they say that gender doesn’t matter,” said Murray.

Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, three candidates lead the field in overall favorability. They are Biden (73% favorable and 21% unfavorable, similar to 76%-20% in December), Sanders (72%-24%, similar to 74%-21% in December) and Warren – although her favorability has dipped in the past month (66%-20% now, compared with 76%-15% in December). Yang’s popularity has increased in the same period (53%-18%, compared with 42%-17% in December). Klobuchar’s rating is similar to Yang’s (50%-18% now – she was not included in the December ratings, but her prior best showing on this metric was 32%-10% in May 2019). Buttigieg’s rating among his fellow Democrats has slipped slightly (49%-22%, compared with 53%-18% in December), while Bloomberg’s rating has risen (48%-31%, compared with 40%-39% in December). Tom Steyer earns a 33%-27% rating (the only other time he was included on this question, in August, he had a negative 9%-25% rating).

2020 CANDIDATE OPINION AMONG DEMOCRATIC VOTERS
Net favorability rating: Jan. ’20 Dec ’19 Nov ’19 Sep ’19 Aug ’19 May ’19 Apr ’19 Mar ’19 Jan ’19
Joe Biden +52 +56 +57 +52 +41 +57 +56 +63 +71
Bernie Sanders +48 +53 +47 +56 +40 +44 +44 +53 +49
Elizabeth Warren +46 +61 +70 +66 +52 +46 +32 +30 +40
Andrew Yang +35 +25 n/a n/a +12 –1 n/a n/a 0
Amy Klobuchar +32 n/a n/a n/a +9 +22 +14 +13 +15
Pete Buttigieg +27 +35 +33 +41 +29 +24 +29 n/a +2
Mike Bloomberg +17 +1 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a +1 +10
Tom Steyer +6 n/a n/a n/a –16 n/a n/a n/a n/a
                   

There has been little change in ratings of the leading Democratic contenders among all American voters (including Republicans and independents). Biden has a rating of 42% favorable and 49% unfavorable among all registered voters (similar to his 43%-50% ratings in both in November and December) and Sanders has a rating of 41% favorable and 52% unfavorable (similar to 41%-54% in both November and December). Warren has a rating of 38% favorable and 49% unfavorable (compared with 40%-50% in December and 42%-44% in November). Buttigieg gets a 32% favorable and 35% unfavorable rating (compared with 34%-35% in December and 27%-34% in November).

Bloomberg has a 33% favorable and 47% unfavorable rating among all registered voters, which is an increase in positive views since he first got into the race (26%-54% in December). Klobuchar earns a 28% favorable and 32% unfavorable rating and Steyer has a 20% favorable and 35% unfavorable rating.  While Yang may be trailing the leaders in the Democratic horse race, he outpaces the rest of the field in one area. His 33% favorable and 29% unfavorable rating makes him the only candidate included in the poll who has a nominally positive net rating among all registered voters.

“It may be time for Yang to start making the electability argument,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from January 16 to 20, 2020 with 903 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 847 registered voters and have a +/- 3.4 percentage point sampling margin of error.  This release also includes results based on 372 voters who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party which have a margin of error of +/- 5.1 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1-4 previously released.]

[Note: Q5 was rotated with Q4-Trump impeachment question, which was released January 21, 2020.]

5. Looking ahead to the 2020 election for President, do you think that Donald Trump should be reelected, or do you think that it is time to have someone else in office?

TREND: ALL REGISTERED VOTERS Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Nov.
2018
Should be reelected 41% 43% 42% 39% 39% 37% 37% 38% 38% 37%
Someone else in office 57% 54% 55% 57% 57% 59% 60% 57% 57% 58%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 3% 3% 4% 4% 4% 4% 5% 5% 4%
(n) (847) (838) (835) (1,017) (689) (660) (719) (746) (735) (716)

[Q6-7 previously released.]

[Q8-12 held for future release.]

[Q13 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

13. Who would you support for the Democratic nomination for president if the candidates were the following? [INCLUDES LEANERS] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

TREND:
(with leaners)
Jan.
2020
Dec.
2019
Nov.
2019
Sept.
2019
Aug.
2019
June
2019
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Joe Biden 30% 26% 23% 25% 19% 32% 33% 27% 28% 29%
Bernie Sanders 23% 21% 20% 15% 20% 14% 15% 20% 25% 16%
Elizabeth Warren 14% 17% 23% 28% 20% 15% 10% 6% 8% 8%
Mike Bloomberg 9% 5% n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 2% 4%
Pete Buttigieg 6% 8% 9% 5% 4% 5% 6% 8% <1% 0%
Amy Klobuchar 5% 4% 2% 1% 1% 1% 3% 1% 3% 2%
Andrew Yang 3% 3% 3% 2% 3% 2% 1% <1% 1% 1%
Michael Bennet 1% 0% <1% 0% <1% 0% <1% 0% <1% n/a
Tulsi Gabbard 1% <1% <1% <1% 1% 1% 1% 0% <1% 1%
Tom Steyer 1% 1% 1% 1% <1% n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
John Delaney <1% 0% 0% <1% 0% 0% <1% 0% 0% <1%
Deval Patrick 0% 1% n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
(VOL) Other 1% <1% 1% 1% 3% 3% 2% 5% 4% 5%
(VOL) No one 1% 3% 1% 2% <1% 1% 2% 3% <1% 3%
(VOL) Undecided 6% 11% 7% 10% 10% 11% 9% 14% 8% 9%
Cory Booker n/a 2% 3% 1% 4% 2% 1% 2% 5% 4%
Julián Castro n/a 1% 0% 1% 2% <1% 1% <1% 1% 1%
Kamala Harris n/a n/a 5% 5% 8% 8% 11% 8% 10% 11%
Beto O’Rourke n/a n/a n/a 1% 2% 3% 4% 4% 6% 7%
Marianne Williamson n/a <1% <1% 2% 2% 1% 1% <1% <1% n/a
  (n) (372) (384) (345) (434) (298) (306) (334) (330) (310) (313)

[Q14 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

14. Thinking about the 2020 election, would it be better for the Democrats to nominate a woman or nominate a man to run against Trump, or doesn’t this matter? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

TREND: Jan.
2020
April
2019
Nominate a woman 8% 7%
Nominate a man 13% 12%
Does not matter 74% 77%
(VOL) Depends on candidate 3% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 1%
(n) (372) (330)

[Q15 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

15. Do you think voters in states like Iowa and New Hampshire have too much influence on who wins the party nominations for president, not enough influence, or about the right amount of influence on who wins the party nominations for president?

 

NATIONAL

IOWA

Comparison
NEW
HAMPSHIRE
Comparison
  Jan.
2020
Jan.
202
0
Jan.
2020
Too much influence 56% 16% 20%
Not enough influence 8% 9% 11%
Right amount of influence 25% 68% 63%
(VOL) Don’t know 11% 7% 7%
(n) (372) (405) (404)

[Q16 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

16. Do you think having Iowa and New Hampshire go first in the nominating process makes it more likely or less likely that the Democratic Party will nominate the best candidate for president, or do you think having those states go first makes little difference in the likelihood that Democrats will nominate the best candidate?

 

NATIONAL

IOWA
Comparison
NEW
HAMPSHIRE
Comparison
  Jan.
2020
Jan.
2020
Jan.
2020
More likely 12% 31% 21%
Less likely 26% 9% 9%
Little difference 50% 52% 63%
(VOL) Don’t know 12% 8% 7%
(n) (372) (405) (404)

[Q17 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]        

17. Nationally, the Democratic Party includes voters with different political views, races and ethnicities, and other characteristics. Does the current presidential primary calendar give all types of Democratic voters an equal voice in the party’s presidential nomination process or does the calendar give some types of voters more influence than others? [If MORE: Is that a lot more influence or just a little more?]

 

NATIONAL

IOWA
Comparison
NEW
HAMPSHIRE
Comparison
  Jan.
2020
Jan.
2020
Jan.
2020
Gives all an equal voice 26% 37% 38%
Some have A LOT more influence 28% 14% 18%
Some have A LITTLE more influence 19% 20% 17%
Some have more influence – not sure how much 15% 13% 12%
(VOL) Don’t know 11% 17% 15%
(n) (372) (405) (404)

[Q18 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

18. Which of the following options would you prefer for the presidential nominating process: A. keep the current system with Iowa and New Hampshire going first, followed by Nevada and South Carolina and then a bunch of states on Super Tuesday; B. have a few other states hold their contests on the same days as Iowa and New Hampshire before moving to other states; C. create grouped primaries where many states would hold their contests on the same day, with each group going on a different week; or D. create a national primary where every state would hold its nominating contest on the same day?

  Jan.
2020
A. Keep the current system 11%
B. Have a few other states on same days as IA/NH 15%
C. Create grouped primaries 10%
D. Create a national primary 58%
(VOL) None of these 1%
(VOL) Don’t know 4%
(n) (372)

[ASKED OF EVERYONE.]

19. I’m going to read you the names of some people who are running for president in 2020.  Please tell me if your general impression of each is very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. If you have not heard of the person, just let me know. [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

TREND:
ALL REGISTERED VOTERS
Very
favorable
Somewhat
favorable
Somewhat
unfavorable
Very
unfavorable
No
opinion
Not
heard of
(n)
Former Vice President
Joe Biden
19% 23% 16% 33% 6% 2% (847)
   — December 2019 18% 25% 16% 34% 6% 1% (838)
   — November 2019 18% 25% 17% 33% 7% 0% (835)
   — September 2019 20% 26% 18% 27% 8% 1% (1,017)
               
Vermont Senator
Bernie Sanders
20% 21% 14% 38% 6% 1% (847)
   — December 2019 20% 21% 15% 39% 4% 1% (838)
   — November 2019 20% 21% 14% 40% 4% 1% (835)
   — September 2019 18% 24% 12% 37% 7% 1% (1,017)
               
Massachusetts Senator
Elizabeth Warren
17% 21% 12% 37% 8% 5% (847)
   — December 2019 18% 22% 11% 39% 6% 4% (838)
   — November 2019 20% 22% 9% 35% 9% 5% (835)
   — September 2019 22% 20% 9% 31% 11% 8% (1,017)
               
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor
Pete Buttigieg
11% 21% 15% 20% 18% 14% (847)
   — December 2019 13% 21% 13% 22% 16% 16% (838)
   — November 2019 9% 18% 13% 21% 20% 18% (835)
   — September 2019 13% 17% 11% 20% 18% 21% (1,017)
               
Minnesota Senator
Amy Klobuchar
10% 18% 17% 15% 22% 19% (847)
   — December 2019
   — November 2019
   — September 2019
               
Former New York Mayor
Mike Bloomberg
10% 23% 15% 32% 15% 5% (847)
   — December 2019 7% 19% 21% 33% 14% 6% (838)
   — November 2019
   — September 2019
               
Entrepreneur
Andrew Yang
9% 24% 15% 14% 21% 18% (847)
   — December 2019 4% 21% 11% 17% 22% 24% (838)
   — November 2019
   — September 2019
               
Former hedge fund manager
Tom Steyer
5% 15% 16% 19% 25% 20% (847)
   — December 2019
   — November 2019
   — September 2019
               
President Donald Trump 35% 8% 4% 51% 2% 0% (847)
   — December 2019 33% 13% 5% 47% 2% 0% (838)
   — November 2019 34% 10% 4% 50% 2% 0% (835)
   — September 2019 30% 13% 6% 50% 3% 0% (1,017)
               

TREND:
DEMOCRATS/DEM LEANERS ONLY
Favorable Unfavorable No opinion Not
heard of
(n)
Former Vice President Joe Biden 73% 21% 5% 1% (372)
  — December  2019 76% 20% 4% 1% (384)
  — November 2019 76% 19% 5% 0% (345)
  — September 2019 72% 20% 7% 1% (434)
   — August 2019 66% 25% 8% 1% (298)
  — May 2019 74% 17% 7% 1% (334)
  — April  2019 72% 16% 12% 1% (330)
  — March  2019 76% 13% 9% 2% (310)
  — January  2019 80% 9% 8% 3% (313)
           
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 72% 24% 4% 1% (372)
  — December  2019 74% 21% 3% 0% (384)
  — November 2019 72% 25% 3% 1% (345)
  — September 2019 75% 19% 5% 1% (434)
  — August 2019 64% 24% 10% 2% (298)
  — May 2019 65% 21% 12% 2% (334)
  — April  2019 65% 21% 13% 1% (330)
  — March  2019 70% 17% 10% 3% (310)
  — January  2019 68% 19% 9% 4% (313)
           
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren 66% 20% 9% 6% (372)
  — December  2019 76% 15% 6% 4% (384)
  — November 2019 79% 9% 9% 4% (345)
  — September 2019 75% 9% 10% 6% (434)
  — August 2019 65% 13% 16% 7% (298)
  — May 2019 60% 14% 14% 12% (334)
  — April  2019 51% 19% 18% 12% (330)
  — March  2019 49% 19% 15% 17% (310)
  — January  2019 57% 17% 16% 11% (313)
           
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 49% 22% 17% 13% (372)
  — December  2019 53% 18% 14% 14% (384)
  — November 2019 49% 16% 21% 13% (345)
  — September 2019 53% 12% 18% 17% (434)
  — August 2019 43% 14% 20% 23% (298)
  — May 2019 35% 11% 24% 30% (334)
  — April  2019 35% 6% 25% 34% (330)
  — March  2019
  — January  2019 8% 6% 27% 58% (313)
           
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar 50% 18% 18% 14% (372)
  — December  2019
  — November 2019
  — September 2019
   — August 2019 27% 18% 34% 20% (298)
  — May 2019 32% 10% 28% 30% (334)
  — April  2019 27% 13% 28% 32% (330)
  — March  2019 26% 13% 29% 33% (310)
  — January  2019 23% 8% 30% 39% (313)
           
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg 48% 31% 18% 4% (372)
  — December  2019 40% 39% 16% 5% (384)
  — November 2019
  — September 2019
   — August 2019
  — May 2019
  — April  2019
  — March  2019 27% 26% 31% 17% (310)
  — January  2019 35% 25% 33% 7% (313)
           
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 53% 18% 17% 12% (372)
  — December  2019 42% 17% 27% 14% (384)
  — November 2019
  — September 2019
  — August 2019 24% 12% 36% 29% (298)
  — May 2019 12% 13% 33% 42% (334)
  — April  2019
  — March  2019
  — January  2019 10% 10% 26% 53% (313)
           
Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer 33% 27% 23% 18% (372)
  — December  2019
  — November 2019
  — September 2019
   — August 2019 9% 25% 37% 30% (298)
  — May 2019
  — April  2019
  — March  2019
  — January  2019
           

[Q20-27 previously released.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from January 16 to 20, 2020 with a national random sample of 903 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 363 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 540 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 847 registered voters. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on the registered voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
REGISTERED VOTERS
 
28% Republican
40% Independent
32% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
26% 18-34
35% 35-54
38% 55+
 
65% White
13% Black
15% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
67% No degree
33% 4 year degree
 
 
DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
DEMOCRATIC VOTERS
 
37% Male
63% Female
 
32% 18-34
34% 35-54
34% 55+
 
56% White
22% Black
15% Hispanic
7% Asian/Other
 
60% No degree
40% 4 year degree
  

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs

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