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Biden, Warren, Sanders Lead 2020 Field


Immigration joins healthcare and environment as top issues for Nevada Dems

West Long Branch, NJ – Former Vice President Joe Biden is the front-runner among likely Democratic caucusgoers in Nevada while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes second place, just ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The first Monmouth University Poll of Silver State Democrats in the 2020 cycle finds that Warren has a particularly positive rating in Nevada compared to her standing elsewhere.  Health care tops the list of concerns for Democratic voters, but the poll finds that immigration is more of a factor for choosing a nominee in Nevada than it is in other early states. 

In a field of 24 candidates, Biden holds a clear lead with 36% support among registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters who are likely to attend the February 2020 Nevada caucuses. He is followed by Warren at 19%, Sanders at 13%, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7%, and California Sen. Kamala Harris at 6%. Other candidates registering at least 1% in the poll are former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (2%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%), entrepreneur Andrew Yang (2%), former cabinet secretary Julián Castro (1%), Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (1%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (1%), and author Marianne Williamson (1%).  The remaining 12 candidates earn less than 1% or were not chosen by any respondents in the poll.

Biden maintains a strong lead among voters who consider themselves moderate or conservative – 47% support him compared to 11% for Warren, 9% for Sanders, 6% for Harris, and 4% for Buttigieg.  Biden also leads Warren among somewhat liberal voters but by a narrower margin of 31% to 24%, with Buttigieg coming in at 12%, Sanders at 8%, and Harris at 5% among this group. Among very liberal voters, though, the contest is between Warren (27%) and Sanders (26%), with Biden garnering just 19% along with Harris at 7% and Buttigieg at 7%.  Very liberal voters make up about one-quarter of likely caucusgoers.

About 1-in-5 voters (21%) say 2020 will be the first Democratic caucus they participate in.  Among these first time caucusgoers, nearly half (48%) prefer Biden, with 16% supporting Sanders, 6% for Buttigieg, and 4% each for Warren and Harris.  Among those who have attended a Nevada caucus in the past, 33% support Biden, 23% are for Warren, 12% for Sanders, and 7% each for Harris and Buttigieg. 

The race appears to be only somewhat tighter among Latino voters for Biden (27%), Sanders (19%), and Warren (11%), followed by O’Rourke at 6% and Yang at 5%.  A sizable 20% of Latino voters do not have a candidate preference at this time.  It is important to note, though, that this subsample has a larger margin of error that ranges from 7 to 10 percentage points for the top three candidates.  Among white non-Hispanic voters, Biden leads Warren 37% to 23%, with Sanders at 13%, Buttigieg at 10%, and Harris at 5%.  Among all other voters, the majority of whom are African-American, Biden has a clear lead of 42% with Harris (14%), Warren (12%), and Sanders (6%) trailing.

 “Nevada is the first state on the Democrats’ 2020 calendar with an ethnically diverse electorate.  Latino voters seem to be particularly up for grabs right now,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The top issues that Nevada Democrats are thinking about in choosing a presidential nominee are health care (41%), followed by environmental concerns (17% climate change and 7% environment in general), immigration (19%), jobs (17%), reproductive rights (15%), and beating Trump (14%).  Other issues that are important to voters include education (8%), civil rights (8%), income inequality (8%), foreign policy (7%), social security (5%), competence and experience (5%), taxes (5%), honesty and integrity (5%), gun control (4%), and a number of other issues named by 3% or less.  Immigration and the combination of jobs and income inequality are more important issues for Nevada Democrats than they are in other early states polled by Monmouth.  Specifically, immigration is named as a top issue by 19% in Nevada, compared to 9% in New Hampshire last month and 14% in Iowa two months ago.  Jobs and income inequality are named by 25% in Nevada, compared to 15% in New Hampshire last month and 15% in Iowa two months ago.  Health care has been the top issue mentioned in all three states – 41% Nevada, 41% New Hampshire, and 51% Iowa – while climate change and the environment have also been important for Democrats in all three states – 24% Nevada, 24% New Hampshire, 29% Iowa.  In Nevada, health care is the top concern for all demographic groups except Latino voters, for whom immigration (37%) and health care (37%) are equally mentioned as a top issue in their choice of a presidential nominee.

The Monmouth University Poll asked caucusgoers to rate 24 announced candidates in the race.  Biden holds the most positive rating at 78% favorable to 13% unfavorable.  However, the ratings for Warren (70% to 11%) and Harris (67% to 9%) are nearly as strong. Other relatively well-known candidates include Sanders (65% to 20%), Booker (61% to 9%), O’Rourke (54% to 16%), Buttigieg (56% to 8%), New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (38% to 16%), and Klobuchar (43% to 10%). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is well-known but has a net negative rating of 25% favorable to 33% unfavorable.

Total w/ opinion   Net rating Favorable Unfavorable
91 Joe Biden +65 78 13
85 Bernie Sanders +45 65 20
81 Elizabeth Warren +59 70 11
76 Kamala Harris +58 67 9
70 Cory Booker +52 61 9
70 Beto O’Rourke +38 54 16
64 Pete Buttigieg +48 56 8
58 Bill de Blasio –8 25 33
54 Kirsten Gillibrand +22 38 16
53 Amy Klobuchar +33 43 10
47 Julián Castro +27 37 10
41 Tulsi Gabbard +15 28 13
38 Eric Swalwell +18 28 10
38 John Hickenlooper +10 24 14
36 Jay Inslee +18 27 9
32 Andrew Yang +8 20 12
30 Michael Bennet +14 22 8
29 Tim Ryan +3 16 13
28 Steve Bullock +4 16 12
22 John Delaney +2 12 10
18 Seth Moulton +2 10 8
18 Marianne Williamson +2 10 8
18 Mike Gravel –4 7 11
14 Wayne Messam –4 5 9

Warren has significantly better ratings in Nevada than in other places Monmouth has polled. Her net positive +59 rating (70% favorable to 11% unfavorable) is better than she did among Democrats in a May 2019 New Hampshire poll (+39, 63% to 24%) and an April 2019 Iowa poll (+47, 67% to 20%), as well as a May 2019 national poll (+46, 60% to 14%).

“Nevada’s highly unionized service sector workforce may be a good fit for Warren’s policy platform when you look at the Democratic electorates in the four early states. However, she is nowhere near the top tier in terms of candidate preferences among Latino and black voters, who make up a significant part of the party’s base here,” said Murray.

Others who receive relatively more positive ratings in Nevada than they have elsewhere in Monmouth’s polling include Harris and Booker, as well as Castro (+27, 37% to 10%), California Rep. Eric Swalwell (+18, 28% to 10%), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (+18, 27% to 9%), and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (+14, 22% to 8%).

The overwhelming majority (64%) of likely Democratic voters in Nevada say they prefer a nominee who would be a strong candidate against Trump even if they disagree with that candidate on most issues. If they were forced to choose, just 25% say they would favor a Democratic candidate who they are aligned with on the issues even if that person would have a hard time beating Trump.  While beating Trump at the ballot box is a priority for most Nevada Democrats, only 29% say it is very important to them that the party nominates someone who supports impeaching Trump now. Another 25% say it is somewhat important, 38% say it is not an important consideration, and 8% are not sure.  Nearly half of likely caucusgoers (44%) say that nominating someone who will build on former President Barack Obama’s legacy is very important to them. Another 34% say it is somewhat important, 16% say it is not important, and 5% are unsure.

Democratic activists have been trying to move the party to the left on both health care and the environment.  Half of likely caucusgoers (51%) say it is very important to them that the party nominates someone who supports “Medicare for All.” Another 29% say this is somewhat important, 10% say it is not important, and 9% are not sure.  About 1-in-3 likely caucusgoers (34%) say it is very important to them that the party nominates someone who supports the “Green New Deal.” Another 35% say this is somewhat important, 14% say it is not important, and 17% are not sure. Poll findings on the importance of these issues are very similar to the results of Monmouth polls of likely New Hampshire primary voters and likely Iowa caucusgoers conducted in the past two months.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 6 to 11, 2019 with 370 Nevada voters who are likely to attend the Democratic presidential caucuses in February 2020, out of 1,333 registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters who were contacted for the poll.  The question results in this release 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.


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

1. If the Democratic caucuses for president were today, would you support – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]?  [If UNDECIDED: If you had to support one of these candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward?]

(with leaners) June
Joe Biden 36%
Elizabeth Warren 19%
Bernie Sanders 13%
Pete Buttigieg 7%
Kamala Harris 6%
Cory Booker 2%
Beto O’Rourke 2%
Andrew Yang 2%
Julián Castro 1%
Tulsi Gabbard 1%
Amy Klobuchar 1%
Marianne Williamson 1%
Steve Bullock <1%
John Hickenlooper <1%
Jay Inslee <1%
Wayne Messam <1%
Tim Ryan <1%
Michael Bennet 0%
Bill de Blasio 0%
John Delaney 0%
Kirsten Gillibrand 0%
Mike Gravel 0%
Seth Moulton 0%
Eric Swalwell 0%
(VOL) No one  1%
(VOL) Undecided 8%
(n) (370)

2. And who would be your second choice?

Elizabeth Warren 15%
Bernie Sanders 14%
Joe Biden 13%
Kamala Harris 13%
Pete Buttigieg 9%
Cory Booker 3%
Beto O’Rourke 3%
Tulsi Gabbard 1%
Kirsten Gillibrand 1%
Jay Inslee 1%
Amy Klobuchar 1%
Andrew Yang 1%
Michael Bennet <1%
Julián Castro <1%
Bill de Blasio <1%
Eric Swalwell <1%
Steve Bullock 0%
John Delaney 0%
Mike Gravel 0%
John Hickenlooper 0%
Wayne Messam 0%
Seth Moulton 0%
Tim Ryan 0%
Marianne Williamson 0%
(VOL) Other <1%
(VOL) No one  9%
(VOL) Undecided 13%
(n) (370)

3. 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 favorable or 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]

  Favorable Unfavorable No
heard of
Former Vice President Joe Biden 78% 13% 7% 2% (370)
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 65% 20% 12% 3% (370)
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren 70% 11% 11% 7% (370)
Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke 54% 16% 18% 12% (370)
California Senator Kamala Harris 67% 9% 14% 10% (370)
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar 43% 10% 24% 23% (370)
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 56% 8% 20% 15% (370)
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker 61% 9% 18% 12% (370)
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 38% 16% 28% 18% (370)
Former cabinet secretary Julián Castro 37% 10% 30% 22% (370)
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney 12% 10% 39% 39% (370)
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper 24% 14% 31% 31% (370)
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard 28% 13% 27% 32% (370)
Washington Governor Jay Inslee 27% 9% 32% 33% (370)
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 20% 12% 30% 38% (370)
Author Marianne Williamson 10% 8% 29% 54% (370)
Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam 5% 9% 28% 58% (370)
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel 7% 11% 32% 50% (370)
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan 16% 13% 35% 36% (370)
Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton 10% 8% 31% 51% (370)
California Congressman Eric Swalwell 28% 10% 29% 33% (370)
Montana Governor Steve Bullock 16% 12% 36% 36% (370)
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet 22% 8% 34% 36% (370)
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 25% 33% 28% 14% (370)

4. 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]

Agrees with but hard time beating Trump 25%
Do not agree with but stronger against Trump 64%
(VOL) Rejects choice / no need to pick between two 8%
(VOL) Don’t know 3%
(n) (370)

5. What are the one or two most important issues to you in deciding who to support for the Democratic nomination? [LIST WAS NOT READ]

[Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]

Jobs, unemployment 17%
Bills, food, groceries 2%
College tuition, school costs 3%
Health care 41%
Social Security, seniors 5%
Taxes 5%
Climate change, global warming 17%
Environment, pollution 7%
Opioids, drug use 0%
Safety, crime 0%
Guns, gun control 4%
Terrorism, national security 2%
Immigration 19%
Schools, education 8%
Civil rights 8%
Reproductive rights, women 15%
Honesty, integrity 5%
Competence, experience 5%
Income inequality, wages 8%
Infrastructure 3%
Foreign policy, world standing 7%
Balance budget 3%
Donald Trump, beating Trump 14%
Other 4%
Don’t know 4%
(n) (370)


6. How important is it to you that the Democrats nominate someone who supports the Green New Deal – very important, somewhat important, not important, or are you not sure?

Very important 34%
Somewhat important 35%
Not important 14%
Not sure 17%
(n) (370)

7. How important is it to you that the Democrats nominate someone who supports Medicare for All – very important, somewhat important, not important, or are you not sure?

Very important 51%
Somewhat important 29%
Not important 10%
Not sure 9%
(n) (370)

8. How important is it to you that the Democrats nominate someone who supports impeaching Donald Trump – very important, somewhat important, not important, or are you not sure?

Very important 29%
Somewhat important 25%
Not important 38%
Not sure 8%
(n) (370)

9. How important is it to you that the Democrats nominate someone who will build on the legacy of Barack Obama – very important, somewhat important, not important, or are you not sure?

Very important 44%
Somewhat important 34%
Not important 16%
Not sure 5%
(n) (370)

10. Will this be your first presidential caucus or have you attended the Nevada presidential caucuses in the past? [If ATTENDED: Was that a Republican or a Democratic caucus, or both?]

First caucus 19%
Attended Rep caucus 2%
Attended Dem caucus 73%
Attended both 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 2%
(n) (370)


The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from June 6 to 11, 2019 with a statewide random sample of 1,333 Nevada voters drawn from a list of registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters who participated in a primary election in the past two election cycles or voted in both the 2016 and 2018 general elections or have registered to vote since November 2018. Results are based on 370 voters who are likely to attend the Democratic presidential caucuses in February 2020. This includes 131 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 239 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English and Spanish. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for age, gender, race, party registration, and education based on state voter registration list and U.S. Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 5.1 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.

Party Registration
86% Democrat
14% None
45% Male
55% Female
13% 18-34
27% 35-49
29% 50-64
31% 65+
60% White, non-Hispanic
20% Hispanic
13% Black
  5% Asian
  2% Other
53% No college degree
47% College graduate

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