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Monmouth University Polling Institute

2016 Dems – Clinton Remains Dominant

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Biden and Warren would lead “Hillary-less” primary

West Long Branch, NJ – The 2016 Democratic field continues to be dominated by Hillary Clinton according to the latest Monmouth University Poll of Democratic voters nationwide.  The recent scandal surrounding the former Secretary of State’s use of a private email account while in office has not dented her standing among Democrats.  But if Clinton should decline to run, Joe Biden appears to be in pole position for the party nomination with Elizabeth Warren nipping at his heels.

Among those Democrats who seem to be most likely to stick a toe in the water for 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominates.  She currently has the support of 60% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide.  Trailing far behind are Vice President Joe Biden (16%), Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (7%), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (2%), and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb (1%).  Despite this widespread support for Clinton, half (50%) of Democratic voters would prefer to see her face an active primary challenge, compared to 41% who feel it would be better if the party united behind her early on in the nomination process.  These results are little changed from a poll taken in December.

Since Clinton casts such a large shadow over the field, the Monmouth University Poll also asked Democratic voters who they would support in a “what if” Hillary-less primary contest among 12 potential contenders.  In this hypothetical contest, Vice Pres. Biden would lead the field with 34% of the vote, followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 18% and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 8%.  No other name registers more than 5% support – including Gov. Martin O’Malley (4%), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (4%), Sen. Jim Webb (3%), former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (3%), New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (3%), and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (2%).  The remainder earn 1% or less of the Democratic vote, including West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.

“Clinton remains the odds-on favorite, but many Democrats feel the race would be more interesting if other contenders decided to throw their hats into the ring,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.  “So far, Clinton’s quest for the Democratic nomination has hardly been nicked by the email controversy.”

Currently, 76% of Democratic voters have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton while just 16% hold an unfavorable view.  This represents only a slight decline from her 82% favorable to 11% unfavorable standing in December, before news broke about her use of a private email account and server when she was Secretary of State.

Joe Biden earns a 65% favorable to 22% unfavorable rating among Democrats.  This marks a significant improvement over his 46% favorable to 32% unfavorable rating four months ago.  Elizabeth Warren, who is making her first appearance in Monmouth’s poll, also holds a solid 47% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating among voters in her own party.

Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb are less well-known among Democratic voters.  Sanders has a 30% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating, O’Malley has a 21% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating, and Webb has a 14% favorable to 18% unfavorable rating.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 30 to April 2, 2015 with 1,005 adults in the United States.   This release is based on a voter sample of 356 registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party.  This voter sample has a margin of error of ± 5.2 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.


The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

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


  1. I know the 2016 election is far away, but who would you support for the Democratic nomination for president if the candidates were – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]?


Joe Biden 16%
Hillary Clinton 60%
Martin O’Malley 2%
Bernie Sanders 7%
Jim Webb 1%
(VOL) Other 0%
(VOL) No one 2%
(VOL) Undecided 12%


  1. If Hillary Clinton did not run, who would you support for the Democratic nomination for president if the candidates were – [NAMES WERE ROTATED]?


Joe Biden 34%
Cory Booker 3%
Andrew Cuomo 4%
Kirsten Gillibrand 2%
Joe Manchin 1%
Terry McAuliffe 1%
Martin O’Malley 4%
Deval Patrick 3%
Bernie Sanders 8%
Brian Schweitzer 0%
Elizabeth Warren 18%
Jim Webb 3%
(VOL) Other 0%
(VOL) No one 1%
(VOL) Undecided 18%


  1. I’m going to read you a few names of people who might run for president in 2016. Please tell me if your general impression of each is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion.  [NAMES WERE ROTATED]




Vice President Joe Biden




    -December 2014




Former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton




    -December 2014




Former Maryland Governor
Martin O’Malley




    -December 2014




Vermont Senator
Bernie Sanders




    -December 2014




Massachusetts Senator
Elizabeth Warren




Former Virginia Senator
Jim Webb




    -December 2014






  1. Do you think it would be better if the Democrats got behind Hillary Clinton early in the nominating process or would it be better if there was an active primary challenge?
Better if Dems got behind Hillary 41% 43%
Better if active primary challenge 50% 48%
(VOL) Don’t know 9% 9%


The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from March 30 to April 2, 2015 with a national random sample of 1,005 adults age 18 and older.  This includes 703 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 302 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English.  Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information.  Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and SSI (RDD sample).  The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 356 registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party.  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 5.2 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.



49% Male 32% 18-34

66% White

51% Female 36% 35-54

12% Black

  32% 55+

15% Hispanic


      7% Asian/Other




47% Male 33% 18-34

57% White

53% Female 31% 35-54

20% Black

  37% 55+

13% Hispanic


    10% Asian/Other


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

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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