For Democrats, it's still Hillary, but her lead has narrowed

August 06, 2015, 12:49 PM GMT+0

Half of Democrats still name Clinton as their first choice, but her 30-point lead over Bernie Sanders is one of her smallest yet

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to be the leading Democratic candidate, buoyed in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll by the perception that she can win – and will win both the nomination and the general election.  Clinton leads Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by 30 points and Vice President Joe Biden, currently mulling whether or not to enter the race, by even more. 

Clinton’s support is lower than it was in late June, which could reflect the impact of the latest questions raised over her use of private email while she was Secretary of State as well as Sanders’ rise.  Still, Clinton is seen as the party’s best chance to retain its hold on the White House post-Barack Obama. 

This poll was larger than past Economist/YouGov Polls, making it possible to examine sub-groups of party identifiers.  It indicates a few Clinton weaknesses.   Clinton fares less well with Democratic men (47%) than with Democratic women (55%).  She holds only a 15-point lead over Sanders among white Democrats, but leads him by 52 points among black Democrats (African-Americans’ second choice is Joe Biden, but Vice President trails Clinton by 40 points when it comes to blacks’ first choice). 

Sanders runs well with liberal Democrats. While Clinton remains ahead with them, her lead is just 16 points. 

The large percentage of current Clinton supporters would be more likely to select Biden than Sanders if Clinton left the race.  At the same time, Clinton is easily the top second choice for those who choose another candidate. 

Clinton is viewed as the likely winner, even by Republicans.  Two in three Democrats think she will win the nomination, and nearly three in four (71%) think she could beat the Republican nominee.

Although Clinton’s lead as the first choice for Democrats is less than it was a month ago, the former First Lady and Senator is still extremely well-liked, even by those supporting one of the other Democratic candidates.  Three in four of Democrats currently choosing someone other than Clinton as their choice for the nomination have a favorable view of her.  Only 22% are unfavorable.

Half of those favoring Clinton’s opponents still expect Clinton to win the nomination; slightly more of them think she can beat the Republican nominee in November than say that about either Sanders or Biden.  However, Clinton’s supporters are not quite as enthusiastic about her candidacy as are the supporters of the other candidates.  68% of Clinton supporters say they would be enthusiastic is she won the nomination; 76% of those supporting the other Democratic candidates would be enthusiastic if their candidate won. 

At the moment, however, Democrats may be more interested in what is taking place in the GOP contest than by what is happening in their party.  Although they will pay less attention than Republicans claim they will to Thursday’s GOP debate, nearly two-thirds of Democrats are interested in the debate; 45% claim they will be watching.  

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.