Many Joe Biden supporters have no second option

May 22, 2019, 7:30 PM GMT+0

Older voters are especially important in former Vice President Joe Biden’s strong polling numbers

Much of former Vice President Joe Biden’s apparent Democratic support (or at least in consideration) for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination comes from voters who are not currently considering the entire field of candidates. One in four Democratic voters in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll say they are considering supporting only one of the announced candidates – and in this group, the former Vice President leads Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by more than two to one.

In this question, potential voters could choose as many candidates as they liked, though most (68%) chose four or less. The greater the number of choices, the better some of the second-level contenders did: for example, among voters considering four or more candidates, California Senator Kamala Harris, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren were named by 76%. Two-thirds are still considering Biden, with 62% listing South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and 57% Sanders.

Sanders gets more consideration as a voter’s choice list expands, although in this poll those that appear to have made up their minds (those with just one choice) give Biden a big lead. Among those naming two or three candidates, 52% list Biden, 44% Sanders. Warren is named by 32%, Harris by 25%.

It is worth noting that some voters say there are candidates they could not support if they won the Democratic Party’s nomination. 12% say they could not support Sanders, 10% they could not support Biden. There is a similar amount of opposition to two women: New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard. 7% name Warren and Harris, the two most popular female contenders.

In the last month or so, some candidates, most notably Biden and Warren, have risen in Democratic consideration. Since his official announcement, Biden has seen a net increase of seven points, while Warren has gained five points. Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke has slipped the most: 21% in this week’s poll say they are considering him, down from 29% in mid-April. His slide was greatest among those 65 and older (18 points) and among liberals (11 points).

Older voters are especially important in Biden’s strong numbers. They are 41 points more likely than Democratic voters under 30 to be considering Biden. They also are helping Buttigieg, Harris and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Biden also is the dominant choice for African-Americans. Liberals – the largest ideological group within the party – are just about equally likely to be considering four candidates: Biden, Sanders, Harris, and Warren.