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Women Rise in Dem 2020 Field

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Biden maintains lead, but it’s not as large among early state voters

West Long Branch, NJ – Former Vice President Joe Biden maintains his front-runner status among Democratic voters nationwide, but some female candidates – namely Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar – have seen some small but notable upticks in their favorability ratings over the past month. The latest Monmouth University Poll also finds a drop in support for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and a decline in the net rating for former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Overall, the poll provides yet another reminder that name recognition continues to drive party preferences at this early stage of the race, with many Democratic voters saying they remain unfamiliar with the majority of the two dozen candidates in the field.  The race would actually look tighter if there was more focus on the voters who live in states with early primary contests with more influence determining the party’s nominee.

Among a field of 24 contenders, Biden currently has the support of 33% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters. This marks a small increase since he entered the race, from 27% in April and 28% in March. The rest of the field is tightly grouped below the clear front-runner position. Sanders has the support of 15% of Democratic-identifiers, which represents a decline over the past few months from 25% in March and 20% in April. Harris has 11% support, similar to 8% in April and 10% in March. Warren stands at 10%, compared to 6% in April and 8% in March.

Other candidates receiving support in the poll include South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 6% (8% in April and less than 1% in March), O’Rourke at 4% (4% in April and 6% in March), and Klobuchar at 3% (1% in April and 3% in March).  Candidates who receive 1% support include New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former cabinet secretary Julián Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, and author Marianne Williamson – which is the first time she has hit the 1% mark in a Monmouth poll.  The remaining 11 candidates included in the poll receive less than 1% or were not selected by any respondents.

“We are still nine months away from the first votes being cast. In past cycles, we used to focus mainly on the insider game of courting big donors at this stage. That ‘invisible primary’ has now morphed into a very visible pre-primary focused on national media attention at the expense of putting down firmer roots in the early voting states,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.Less than half of the Democratic voters in the poll live in one of the states that will cast ballots in the 2020 nomination process by Super Tuesday. Among these early state voters, Biden maintains his lead, but by a much slimmer margin – 26% support compared to 14% for Sanders and 14% for Harris. Warren follows at 9% with Buttigieg at 6% and Klobuchar at 5%.

“We’d probably be seeing a different media narrative if we really focused on voters who will actually have an opportunity to shape the field,” said Murray.

2020 DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT
by state primary schedule
  Early * Other
Joe Biden 26% 38%
Bernie Sanders 14% 16%
Kamala Harris 14% 8%
Elizabeth Warren 9% 11%
Pete Buttigieg 6% 6%
Amy Klobuchar 5% 2%
Beto O’Rourke 3% 4%
Tulsi Gabbard 2% 1%
Andrew Yang 2% 0%
Marianne Williamson 1% 1%
Michael Bennet 1% 0%
Julián Castro 1% 0%
John Delaney 1% 0%
John Hickenlooper 1% 0%
Tim Ryan 1% 0%
  * Early states include those scheduled to or likely to hold
a primary/caucus event by Super Tuesday (March 3rd).

Another finding in the poll is a recent shift toward voters backing female candidates. The six women in the field receive a combined 27% support from Democratic voters. This is a jump from the 16% support they received in April and higher than 21% support in March.

“Women are commanding a larger slice of Democratic support than they were a few weeks ago and we are seeing bumps in their individual voter ratings. We can’t parse out the exact reasons from this one poll, but recent efforts by certain states to restrict access to abortion services may be playing a role in the closer look these candidates are getting right now,” said Murray.

A key metric at this point in the 2020 cycle is candidate favorability. The poll finds small but notable shifts for three female contenders since last month.  Warren is known to 88% of Democratic voters, which is consistent with prior polls. However, she currently receives a +46 net rating of 60% favorable to 14% unfavorable, which is up significantly from her +32 rating in April (51% to 19%).  Warren’s gains have come disproportionately from Democratic men (59%-15% in May compared with 46%-25% in April) and non-white voters (53%-12% in May compared with 37%-20% in April).

Harris is known to 82% of Democratic voters, which is consistent with prior polls. She currently receives a +49 net rating of 58% favorable to 9% unfavorable, which is up somewhat from her +40 rating in April (50% to 10%).  Harris’ gains have come disproportionately from non-liberals (51%-11% in May compared with 39%-14% in April) and Democrats without a college degree (53%-10% in May compared with 42%-12% in April).

Klobuchar is known to 70% of Democratic voters, which is consistent with polls since her entry into the campaign, although a sizable number (28%) feel they still don’t know enough to give her a rating. However, she currently receives a +22 net rating of 32% favorable to 10% unfavorable, which is up somewhat from her +14 rating in April (27% to 13%).  Klobuchar’s gains have come disproportionately from non-white voters (25%-5% in May compared with 15%-10% in April) and college graduates (40%-11% in May compared with 32%-15% in April).

2020 DEMOCRATIC VOTER OPINION
Among Candidates with 2/3rds Name ID
   
Net rating: May ’19 Apr ’19 Mar ’19 Jan ’19
Joe Biden +57 +56 +63 +71
Kamala Harris +49 +40 +42 +33
Elizabeth Warren +46 +32 +30 +40
Bernie Sanders +44 +44 +53 +49
Cory Booker +28 +24 +31 +33
Pete Buttigieg +24 +29 n/a +2
Amy Klobuchar +22 +14 +13 +15
Beto O’Rourke +21 +31 +26 +32
Julián Castro +18 n/a n/a +15
Kirsten Gillibrand +11 n/a n/a +16
Bill de Blasio -9 n/a -6 n/a
         

The field’s leader, Biden, maintains his near universal name recognition (98%) and a virtually unchanged +57 net rating of 74% favorable to 17% unfavorable. It was 72%-16% last month. Sanders, known to 98% of Democratic voters, holds onto a +44 net rating of 65% favorable to 21% unfavorable, which is identical to his 65%-21% rating in April.  Buttigieg, with 70% name identification, has a +24 net rating of 35% favorable to 11% unfavorable, which is similar to last month’s 35%-6% rating.

O’Rourke, who is known to 79% of Democrats, has seen his net rating slip over the past month to +21 – 40% favorable to 19% unfavorable. It was a nominally better 43% to 12% in April. The decline in O’Rourke’s rating has come disproportionately from women (41%-18% in May compared with 45%-9% in April) and Democrats under 50 years old (33%-20% in May compared with 45%-13% in April).

“One thing we need to remember is that huge pockets of Democratic voters, particularly moderates, have yet to tune in to the campaign. While liberal activists are more aware of the entire field, moderates tend to gravitate toward Biden in part because his is the one name they know they are aligned with.  Other candidates could emerge in early states to pull some of his support or this early national media primary could snuff out their chances well before the first vote is cast,” said Murray.

Among other contenders, de Blasio, who is the most recent candidate to throw his hat into the ring, enters the race with 78% name recognition, but he also has the worst net rating of the 24 candidates Monmouth is tracking with a negative -9 net rating of 20% favorable to 29% unfavorable.  Three other candidates who are known to at least two-thirds of Democratic voters maintain stable positive ratings which are little changed from prior polls. They are Booker at +28 (41%-13%), Castro at +18 (28%-10%), and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at +11 (28%-17%).

A majority of Democratic voters say they recognize the names of another 9 candidates in the field, but few are able to offer an opinion of them. Those receiving the best net ratings, relatively speaking, include former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (19% favorable to 8% unfavorable), Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (18%-7%), California Rep. Eric Swalwell (18%-7%), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (18%-9%), and Gabbard (22%-15%).  Ratings are evenly divided for former Maryland Rep. John Delaney (13%-12%), Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (15%-15%), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (11%-11%), and Yang (12%-13%).  Less-known candidates include Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (11%-9%) and Williamson (10%-10%) as well as the negatively rated former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel (5%-10%) and Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam (3%-9%).

“Hey, the field is too big. You wonder if some candidates are getting negative ratings simply as a result of voters questioning whether they really should be running,” said Murray.

The poll also asked registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents about their party’s nomination process.  In considering who should be their party’s standard bearer, a majority of 58% prefer someone who would be a strong candidate against Trump even if they disagree with that candidate on most issues.  Just 34% say they would prefer a nominee who they are aligned with on the issues even if that person would have a hard time beating Trump.  This result is unchanged from the 56% to 33% response this question received in January.  Among those who prioritize electability, 36% support Biden in the “horse race,” followed by Sanders (14%), Harris (14%), and Warren (10%).  Among those who stick with issue alignment, 26% back Biden and 18% support Sanders, followed by Warren (9%), Buttigieg (8%), Harris (7%), and O’Rourke (7%).

Just under half of Democratic voters (44%) say that nominating someone who will build on former President Barack Obama’s legacy is very important to them and another 31% say it is somewhat important. Just 18% say this is not important and 7% are unsure.  Among those who say Obama’s legacy is very important in the choice of nominee, 44% currently support Biden while 15% support Sanders and 9% back Harris, followed by Warren (6%) and Buttigieg (4%). Among those who do not feel Obama’s legacy is very important in the 2020 process, 25% support Biden, followed by 15% for Sanders, 13% for Warren, 12% for Harris, and 8% for Buttigieg.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 16 to 20, 2019 with 802 adults. Results in this release are based on 334 registered voters who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party in the United States, which has a +/- 5.4 percentage point sampling margin of error.  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.)

[Q1-15 previously released.]

16. 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)
May
2019
April
2019
March
2019
Jan.
2019
Joe Biden 33% 27% 28% 29%
Bernie Sanders 15% 20% 25% 16%
Kamala Harris 11% 8% 10% 11%
Elizabeth Warren 10% 6% 8% 8%
Pete Buttigieg 6% 8% <1% 0%
Beto O’Rourke 4% 4% 6% 7%
Amy Klobuchar 3% 1% 3% 2%
Cory Booker 1% 2% 5% 4%
Julián Castro 1% <1% 1% 1%
Bill de Blasio 1% 1% 1% n/a
Tulsi Gabbard 1% 0% <1% 1%
Marianne Williamson 1% <1% <1% n/a
Andrew Yang 1% <1% 1% 1%
Michael Bennet <1% 0% <1% n/a
John Delaney <1% 0% 0% <1%
Kirsten Gillibrand <1% <1% <1% 1%
John Hickenlooper <1% 2% 1% 1%
Jay Inslee <1% <1% <1% <1%
Tim Ryan <1% 0% n/a n/a
Steve Bullock 0% 0% 0% n/a
Mike Gravel 0% n/a n/a n/a
Wayne Messam 0% <1% n/a n/a
Seth Moulton 0% <1% n/a n/a
Eric Swalwell 0% <1% n/a n/a
(VOL) Other 0% 1% 4% 7%
(VOL) No one 2% 3% <1% 3%
(VOL) Undecided 9% 14% 8% 9%
 (n) (334) (330) (310) (313)

17. I’m going to read you the names of some people who are running or might run 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]

 
TREND:

Favor-
able
Unfavor-
able
No
opinion
Not
heard
of
(n)
Former Vice President Joe Biden 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 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 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 Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke 40% 19% 20% 22% (334)
   — April  2019 43% 12% 22% 23% (330)
   — March  2019 38% 12% 21% 29% (310)
   — January  2019 41% 9% 23% 27% (313)
           
California Senator Kamala Harris 58% 9% 15% 18% (334)
   — April  2019 50% 10% 19% 21% (330)
   — March  2019 53% 11% 16% 20% (310)
   — January  2019 46% 13% 21% 20% (313)
           
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar 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)
           
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 35% 11% 24% 30% (334)
   — April  2019 35% 6% 25% 34% (330)
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 8% 6% 27% 58% (313)
           
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker 41% 13% 26% 19% (334)
   — April  2019 40% 16% 24% 20% (330)
   — March  2019 43% 12% 20% 25% (310)
   — January  2019 44% 11% 20% 25% (313)
           
 New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand 28% 17% 29% 26% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 28% 12% 34% 26% (313)
           
 Former cabinet secretary Julián Castro 28% 10% 31% 31% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 24% 9% 32% 35% (313)
           
Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney 13% 12% 34% 41% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 16% 7% 39% 37% (313)
           
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper 19% 8% 29% 44% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 13% 10% 28% 49% (313)
           
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard 22% 15% 26% 37% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 21% 9% 28% 42% (313)
           
Washington Governor Jay Inslee 18% 9% 27% 46% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019 13% 6% 31% 50% (310)
   — January  2019 11% 8% 35% 46% (313)
           
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang 12% 13% 33% 42% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019 10% 10% 26% 53% (313)
           
Author Marianne Williamson 10% 10% 28% 52% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019 8% 4% 21% 67% (310)
   — January  2019
           
Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam 3% 9% 30% 57% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019
           
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel 5% 10% 32% 52% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019
           
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan 15% 15% 33% 37% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019
           
Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton 11% 9% 31% 50% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019
           
California Congressman Eric Swalwell 18% 7% 30% 45% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019
   — January  2019
           
Montana Governor Steve Bullock 11% 11% 33% 45% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019 6% 6% 30% 58% (310)
   — January  2019
           
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet 18% 7% 33% 42% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019 13% 7% 32% 48% (310)
   — January  2019
           
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 20% 29% 29% 21% (334)
   — April  2019
   — March  2019 18% 24% 35% 23% (310)
   — January  2019
           

18. 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: 

May
2019
Jan.
2019
Agrees with but hard time beating Trump 34% 33%
Do not agree with but stronger against Trump 58% 56%
(VOL) Rejects choice 2% 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 6% 10%
 (n) (334) (313)

19. 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?

  May
2019
Very important 44%
Somewhat important 31%
Not important 18%
Not sure 7%
 (n) (334)

[Q20-33 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 16 to 20, 2019 with a national random sample of 802 adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 322 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 480 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. The results in this poll release are based on a subsample of 334 registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. 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. 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 Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on the Democratic voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 5.4 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)
DEMOCRATIC VOTERS
 
41% Male
59% Female
 
32% 18-34
34% 35-54
34% 55+
 
52% White
20% Black
19% Hispanic
  9% Asian/Other
 
61% No degree
39% 4 year degree
  

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

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs