This poll has been updated with two new polls, including a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
After CNN on Monday released the first poll since last week’s Democratic debate, all the focus was on Joe Biden dropping and Kamala D. Harris and Elizabeth Warren rising.
But what about Bernie Sanders? Three polls -- the CNN one and two more on Tuesday -- seemed to fill out the picture of a 2016 runner-up who didn’t exactly impress last week and is losing ground early. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, meanwhile, suggested little had changed for Sanders.
The CNN poll had Sanders dropping four points into fourth place, at 14 percent, though he was still in a statistical tie with Harris (17 percent) and Warren (15 percent). A Quinnipiac University poll showed a similar picture, with Sanders dropping from 19 percent to 13 percent and again falling into fourth place. The Post-ABC poll, though, had Sanders still in second place both when respondents were provided the names of candidates (trailing Biden 21-13) and when candidates were listed (trailing 25-18).
But then there’s Iowa. A new poll also had him in fourth place — but that wasn’t even the worst of it. Here are the top-line numbers from the Suffolk University/USA Today poll in Iowa:
- Biden: 24 percent
- Harris: 16
- Warren: 13
- Sanders: 9
- Pete Buttigieg: 6
This is Suffolk’s first Iowa poll, but Sanders is well below his 16 percent showing in an early June Des Moines Register-CNN poll and his 22 percent in a CBS News-YouGov poll last month. It’s also just the second time he’s been in the single digits in a poll either nationally or in the early states. A Post and Courier poll of the South Carolina primary recently also put him at 9 percent.
But while Sanders might expect that after getting drubbed by Hillary Clinton in South Carolina last time around (by 47 points!), he very nearly won Iowa. He lost to Clinton by just a fraction of 1 percent, in fact. It was his big coming-out party. Now he’s languishing in the single digits there, at least according to one poll.
And the bad news in the new poll doesn’t stop there. Suffolk also asked which candidate people would vote for as their second choice, and just 6 percent picked Sanders. You might think that many Sanders supporters from 2016 would flirt with another candidate, perhaps, and that maybe he was still their backup. But you would be wrong.
In fact, when second choices are factored in, Sanders actually drops behind Buttigieg, who is the second choice of 14 percent of voters (and who also out-fundraised Sanders for the second quarter, we just found out):
|Candidate||First choice||Second choice||Total|
Sanders’s supporters are also less likely to turn out to vote. Among those claiming to be “very” likely to caucus next year, he is again struggling to top Buttigieg:
- Biden: 26
- Warren: 14
- Harris: 13
- Sanders: 7
- Buttigieg: 6
This all comes with some important caveats. One is that Sanders’s base might say it’s less likely to vote simply because it’s younger. And his supporters certainly wound up being motivated enough in 2016.
A second is the Post-ABC poll. The different questioning method might benefit a candidate with higher name ID like Sanders -- given the question was first asked in an open-ended fashion -- but we’ll have to see what future national polls say.
And a third is that the Suffolk survey is one Iowa poll. Even if it builds on the two national polls, this is a snapshot of a moment in time. Perhaps Sanders just had an uninspiring debate, and voters are checking out their options. There are many more debates and lots of time.
But when you’re the runner-up in a presidential nominating process, you usually start the next one with some heft and a built-in base, even if you don’t enter it as the outright favorite. As of right now, Sanders appears to be losing some of his base to Warren and headed in the wrong direction overall.