Skip to main content

Washington, Obama, and Trump, Oh My!

Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019

Biden, Sanders, Warren continue to jockey for 2020 pole position

West Long Branch, NJ – Most Americans agree that George Washington was a better president than either Donald Trump or Barack Obama – but there are some interesting partisan divisions in that opinion.  Jumping ahead to 2020, Trump’s reelection prospects are holding steady in the latest Monmouth University Poll.  Former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continue to swap positions as the top three contenders for the Democratic nomination.  Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg enters the race with low favorability ratings among voters of every partisan stripe.

Just over 4-in-10 (43%) registered voters feel that Trump should be reelected, while a majority (54%) say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office.  These numbers have not really budged in the past month (42% reelect and 55% someone new in November). The current results are statistically similar to late September when news broke about the Ukraine call (39% reelect and 57% someone new) and August when the House impeachment inquiry was just getting started (39% reelect and 57% someone new).

“The impeachment hearings over the past month have not moved the reelection needle in either direction,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Trump currently has a personal rating of 46% favorable and 52% unfavorable among registered voters. The president’s personal rating has grown slightly more positive since news of the Ukraine call first broke, but the shifts so far are not statistically significant. He had a 44%-54% rating in November and a 43%-56% rating in late September.  Moreover, there continues to be a wide net negative gap among those who have a strong opinion of the president – 33% very favorable versus 47% very unfavorable

The leading Democratic contenders to take on the president in 2020 have also seen little change in their own personal ratings over the past month. Biden has a rating of 43% favorable and 50% unfavorable among all registered voters (identical to his 43%-50% rating in November), Sanders has a rating of 41% favorable and 54% unfavorable (identical to his 41%-54% rating in November), and Warren has a rating of 40% favorable and 50% unfavorable (slightly more negative than her 42%-44% rating in November).  South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets a 34% favorable and 35% unfavorable rating, which is a slight improvement from his 27%-34% rating in November.

Bloomberg has a 26% favorable and 54% unfavorable rating among all registered voters.  Bloomberg earns a split decision (40% favorable and 39% unfavorable) from Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, but has a decidedly negative rating among Republicans and Republican-leaners (12%-72%) as well as among independents who do not lean toward either party (26%-51%).

“Bloomberg said he got into this race because he wants to defeat Trump, but his campaign kicks off with even lower ratings than the incumbent. That is not the most auspicious start, but views of Bloomberg are not as deeply held as they are for Trump, so he has room to shift those opinions,” said Murray.

Bloomberg’s rating among Democrats and Democratic-leaners is much lower than other contenders in the field.  Warren (76% favorable and 15% unfavorable), Biden (76%-20%) and Sanders (74%-21%) have broad popularity among party voters. Warren’s rating has ticked down slightly since November (from 79%-9%), Biden’s has held steady (from 76%-19%), and Sanders’ has ticked up (from 72%-25%). Buttigieg earns a 53%-18% rating among his fellow Democrats, similar to his rating in November (49%-16%).  Bloomberg’s within-party favorability is also worse than entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who currently gets a 42%-17% rating.

2020 CANDIDATE OPINION AMONG DEMOCRATIC VOTERS
Net favorability rating: Dec ’19 Nov ’19 Sep ’19 Aug ’19 May ’19 Apr ’19 Mar ’19 Jan ’19
Elizabeth Warren +61 +70 +66 +52 +46 +32 +30 +40
Joe Biden +56 +57 +52 +41 +57 +56 +63 +71
Bernie Sanders +53 +47 +56 +40 +44 +44 +53 +49
Pete Buttigieg +35 +33 +41 +29 +24 +29 n/a +2
Andrew Yang +25 n/a n/a +12 -1 n/a n/a 0
Mike Bloomberg +1 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a +1 +10
                 

Bloomberg’s current net +1 party rating (40%-39%) is similar to what he earned in a Monmouth poll conducted back in March when he initially flirted with a presidential run.  Democratic opinion was evenly divided then at 27% favorable and 26% unfavorable. He had a somewhat more positive rating in Monmouth’s initial poll of the potential Democratic field in January 2019 (35%-25%).

Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to be divided over who they want to put up against Trump in 2020.  The top contenders continue to be Biden (26%), Sanders (21%), and Warren (17%). However, these three are in a slightly different order than where they stood last month (23% Biden, 23% Warren, and 20% Sanders) or in late September (28% Warren, 25% Biden, and 15% Sanders).  Buttigieg is the preferred choice of 8% of Democratic-identifying voters (similar to 9% in November and 5% in September).

Bloomberg enters the race at 5% support nationally.  He had 2% support in March and 4% in January when he was included as one of the potential contenders for the Democratic nomination.  Other candidates registering support in the current poll are Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (4%), Yang (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%) and seven other candidates who earn 1% or less.

The poll also finds that more Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters continue to prefer a candidate who would be stronger against Trump even if they disagree with that candidate on most issues (56%) than say they want a nominee who aligns with them on the issues but would have a hard time beating Trump (30%).  This result is virtually unchanged from the 58% to 34% response this question received in May and the 56% to 33% result in January.

Among those Democrats who prioritize electability, 31% support Biden in the “horse race,” followed by Warren (18%), Sanders (17%), Buttigieg (8%), Klobuchar (6%), and Bloomberg (4%).  Among those who stick with issue alignment, 33% support Sanders followed by Biden (15%), Warren (15%), Buttigieg (12%), Yang (5%), and Bloomberg (3%).  In Monmouth’s May 2019 poll, electability voters named Biden (36%) as their top pick, followed by Sanders (14%) and Warren (10%), as well as California Sen. Kamala Harris (14%) who has since dropped out of the race.  Among those who valued issue alignment over electability in May, Biden (26%) led Sanders (18%), Warren (9%), Buttigieg (8%), and Harris (7%).

The poll also asked all registered voters if the nation’s first president was better than either of the two most recent occupants of that office. For the current incumbent, 71% say Washington was better while 15% pick Trump. Against the current president’s immediate predecessor, Washington gets the vote of 58% compared to 33% who say Obama was better.  Among Republican voters, Washington edges out Trump by a narrow 44% to 37% margin. Among Democratic voters, though, the “Father of Our Country” trails Obama by a 29% to 63% margin.  It’s worth noting that among independent voters, Washington does even better against Trump (72%-11%) than against Obama (62%-28%).  This question was inspired by a recent Economist/YouGov Poll that asked whether Trump or Abraham Lincoln was a better “Republican president.” 

“There is a combination of factors at work when you ask a question like this. Democrats may be more likely than Republicans to be influenced by recency bias, valuing what they are familiar with over historical opinion. It’s a fun question to ask, but I’m not sure what it means,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from December 4 to 8, 2019 with 903 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 838 registered voters and have a +/- 3.4 percentage point sampling margin of error.  This release also includes results based on 384 voters who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party which have a margin of error of +/- 5.0 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 held for future release.]

[Note: Q5 was rotated with Q4-Trump impeachment question, which will be released tomorrow.]

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

[Q6-10 held for future release.]

[Q11 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

11. I know the 2020 election is far away, but who would you support for the Democratic nomination for president if the candidates were the following? [INCLUDES LEANERS] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

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

     * Candidate not included in current poll.

[Q12 WAS ASKED OF DEMOCRATS/LEANING DEMOCRATIC VOTERS.]

12. Which type of candidate would you prefer if you had to make a choice between: a Democrat you agree with on most issues but would have a hard time beating Donald Trump or a Democrat you do NOT agree with on most issues but would be a stronger candidate against Donald Trump? [CHOICES WERE ROTATED]

  TREND:
DEMOCRATS/DEM LEANERS ONLY
Dec.
2019
May
2019
Jan.
2019
Agrees with but hard time beating Trump 30% 34% 33%
Do not agree with but stronger against Trump 56% 58% 56%
(VOL) Rejects choice 5% 2% 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 9% 6% 10%
 (n) (384) (334) (313)

[Q13 held for future release.]

[ASKED OF EVERYONE.]

14. 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 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% 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 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)
               
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 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)
               
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg 7% 19% 21% 33% 14% 6% (838)
   — November 2019
   — September 2019
               
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 4% 21% 11% 17% 22% 24% (838)
   — November 2019
   — September 2019
               
President Donald Trump 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 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 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 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)
           
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 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)
           
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg 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 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)
           

[ASKED OF EVERYONE.]

[QUESTIONS 15 & 16 WERE ROTATED]

15. Who was a better president: George Washington or Donald Trump?

ALL REGISTERED VOTERS Dec.
2019
George Washington 71%
Donald Trump 15%
(VOL) Both equally 5%
(VOL) Don’t know 9%
 (n) (838)

16. Who was a better president: George Washington or Barack Obama?

ALL REGISTERED VOTERS Dec.
2019
George Washington 58%
Barack Obama 33%
(VOL) Both equally 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 6%
 (n) (838)

[Q17-26 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from December 4 to 8, 2019 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 838 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  
 
27% Republican
42% Independent
31% Democrat
 
49% Male
51% Female
 
28% 18-34
34% 35-54
38% 55+
 
67% White
12% Black
15% Hispanic
  6% Asian/Other
 
68% No degree
32% 4 year degree
 
 
DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
DEMOCRATIC VOTERS
 
37% Male
63% Female
 
34% 18-34
29% 35-54
37% 55+
 
58% White
21% Black
14% Hispanic
  8% Asian/Other
 
58% No degree
42% 4 year degree
  

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs

// //