The Democratic contest: Two leaders, two on their trail

July 22, 2019, 5:30 PM GMT+0

Democratic voters are settling into a pattern. They like one of the four leading candidates, by almost every measure. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, about half of all Democratic primary voters are considering former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. California Senator Kamala Harris and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are being considered by slightly smaller percentages of voters.

Liberal Democratic voters have slightly different preferences. Warren and Harris lead with that group, and Biden and Sanders trail. Biden continues to be in front (as he has for a long time) when prospective voters are asked to name their first choice, with Sanders, Warren and Harris battling for second place.

Biden’s support among African-American voters remains strong. He is far ahead of both Harris and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, two black candidates, among black Democratic voters.

However, the Democratic horserace remains wide open, as less that one in four say they are considering only one candidate (in this group, Biden and Sanders are ahead).

But popularity has been shifting. The same percentage of Democrats now have favorable opinions of Warren and Biden (with fewer unfavorable toward Warren than toward Biden.) Sanders, Harris and Booker all have Democratic favorable ratings over 60 percent (Booker’s jumped 10 points in the last week). South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke are the only other current candidates with Democratic favorable ratings over 50 percent.

Democratic voters are focused on winning in 2020. Nearly two-thirds of them prioritize defeating President Donald Trump over having a nominee whose policy positions they agree with. Wanting victory helps Biden, Warren and Harris, as more than half of Democratic voters who believe winning is more important say they are considering each of those three. Only a third say they are considering Sanders.

Sanders gets more consideration, however, among those Democratic voters that say they want a nominee whose policy positions they agree with . 46 percent in this group are considering Sanders, while only a third or less are thinking about any of the other contenders.

The focus on finding a winner is especially strong among Democratic voters who use Twitter, the platform where much of the Democratic nomination battle (and much other politics) is taking place. More Twitter users are considering Warren than are considering Biden. Sanders is in fourth place, with Buttigieg close behind.

There is no other candidate being considered by as many as 20 percent of those Democratic voters on Twitter.

Democratic Twitter users describe themselves as more liberal than other Democrats do, perhaps explaining their higher support for Warren. The data supports their ideological claim. Democrats on Twitter are 13 points more likely than Democrats who don’t use Twitter to favor the Green New Deal, eight points more likely to support Medicare for All, 14 points more willing to eliminate private health insurance, and nine points more likely to want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

In fact, Twitter users in both political parties take more extreme positions than others. Two-thirds of Republicans on Twitter “strongly approve” of how the President is handling his job (11 points higher than the strongly approve percentage from those Republicans not on Twitter), and 45%percent call themselves “very conservative” (12 points higher than non-Twitter using Republicans).

See the full toplines and tables results from this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Getty