59% of Democrats believe the Democratic nominee, whoever they are, will defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election
Biden, Bernie, Beto? Or none of these?
Democrats today seem quite happy with their party and their choices. They are united against Republican President Donald Trump (only 4% of registered Democrats say they would vote for him in 2020 and eight in ten oppose most if not all of his policies), approve of their party in Congress and its leadership, and have favorable opinions about almost every candidate who has declared (or is expected soon to declare) a candidacy for the Presidency.
By two to one (59% to 30%) Democrats expect whomever they nominate will defeat Donald Trump in 2020. Their optimism may be justified. The President’s approval rating this week is just 39%, while 53% disapprove. And an unnamed Democratic nominee has an edge over the incumbent. Among registered voters, the Democrat is ahead by nine points, 47% to 38%.
But who to choose as a nominee? Just 12% of registered Democrats say they have already made a choice. More than a third won’t make a final decision until at least the beginning of 2020, so there is time for all contenders to reach the voters. Four in ten say they are considering most of the men and women who have declared, not just a few of them. But no matter the number being considered, most Democrats say they will wait to decide.
The latest Economist/YouGov Poll divides the Democratic field into the very well-known, the somewhat less well-known, and the not-at-all well-known. At the top are the two oldest: former Vice President Joe Biden, and the 2016 challenger Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Nearly all Democrats have an opinion of each man, and the vast majority view them favorably. Biden, however, also gets favorable marks from the public at large.
Pitting the two against each other finds Biden the favorite: by nearly two to one, all Americans and Democrats say they like Biden better. Half of Republicans don’t like either, but those who would pick one name Biden, not Sanders.
Independents divide most closely – not a surprise as Sanders did best with those 2016 Democratic primary voters who consider themselves, as Sanders does, independents. But otherwise, there aren’t too many differences among Democrats. Liberal and moderate Democrats like Biden better. So do whites, blacks, men and women.
Age does make a difference. Biden’s edge over Sanders in likeability is just five points among Democrats under 45 years old. Biden has a large lead among older Democrats, especially those in the age group both Sanders and Biden are in. And Sanders is still more popular than Biden among those Democrats who supported Sanders in 2016, though the difference is just ten points, and a third like Biden better.
Nearly as many Democrats in this poll have a favorable opinion of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren as like Sanders. She is better-known and better-liked among Democrats than three other candidates, California Senator Kamala Harris, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and the latest entrant, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
Despite O’Rourke’s recent vast media presence and his online fundraising, he is viewed just about the same as Harris among Democrats. Gender and race make little difference in opinion. Liberals, who make up the majority of Democrats, like all three candidates. Favorable opinions of all three are far higher than unfavorable ones.
Majorities of Democrats have opinions of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and of former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro. But this group, while liked by those who know them, is less well-known than the top six.
There are, of course, a number of other Democratic contenders, who are not well-known. Some receive positive assessments from Democrats, but a few also have about as many negative evaluations as positive ones, suggesting their campaigns may have a difficult time ahead getting noticed (or getting votes).