Elizabeth Warren; Bernie Sanders (Getty/Ethan Miller/Sergio Flores)

Elizabeth Warren overtakes progressive rival Bernie Sanders in trio of recent polls

Is this a sign that Warren could be winning over progressive voters?


Matthew Rozsa
June 14, 2019 1:22PM (UTC)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has pulled ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., thus far her chief rival for the mantle of progressive alternative in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, in a trio of recent polls.

The first result comes from a recent Economist/YouGov poll, which finds Warren ahead of Sanders by a margin of 16 percent to 12 percent nationwide. Thus far, Warren has been trailing Sanders in national polls as both candidates grapple for the same base of progressive voters. If this trend breaks, it will be a sign that Warren could be winning over that key demographic. Both candidates still continue to trail former Vice President Joe Biden.

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A second poll — this one involving an early nominating state rather than the nation as a whole — also showed Warren pulling ahead of Sanders. In the Monmouth poll of Democrats likely to participate in the Nevada caucuses, which is scheduled to follow the Iowa causes and New Hampshire primary next year, Biden is leads with 36 percent, followed by Warren with 19 percent and Sanders with 13 percent.

And that was not the only good news for Warren. A new UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll of California found Biden again ahead with 22 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, but he was closely followed by Warren with 18 percent and Sanders with 17 percent.

To be clear, these are not the first polls to show that Warren is steadily making gains over other Democratic candidates. Earlier this week, a survey for the Iowa caucus conducted by the Des Moines Register and CNN found that Warren had 15 percent support, behind Biden at 24 percent and Sanders at 16 percent and ahead of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 14 percent. This was a major sign of progress for Warren, who during a survey by the same group in March was only at 9 percent in Iowa. The survey showed an even bigger leap for Buttigieg, who at that time was only at 1 percent.

That said, Warren had another reason to be optimistic based on the Iowa poll. It found that 61 percent of voters caucusing in person said she was on their list of options — that is, as a first choice, second choice or actively considered candidate — the same number as frontrunner Biden.

This is not to say that all polling news has been positive for Warren, at least when her candidacy is compared to that of Sanders. In another poll this week, which showed various Democratic frontrunners in hypothetical head-to-head matchups against President Donald Trump, Warren was only ahead of Trump by seven points (49 percent to 42 percent). By contrast, Biden was ahead of Trump by 13 points (53 percent to 40 percent), Sanders was ahead of Trump by nine points (51 percent to 42 percent) and Sen. Kamala Harris of California was ahead of Trump by eight points (49 percent to 41 percent).

In addition, if Warren were to receive the Democratic nomination, she would no doubt be confronted with the controversy caused by her erroneously claiming to have significant Native American ancestry in her past. Trump has attached the disparaging and racist nickname "Pocahontas" to Warren as a result of her error, but Warren herself could face possible accusations of cultural appropriation, dishonesty or insensitivity as a result of her handling of the issue.

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The methodology of the Economist/YouGov poll included 1107 registered voters out of 1500 respondents, and "respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in Internet panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, and region) was selected from the 2014 American Community Study. Voter registration was imputed from the November 2014 Current Population Survey Registration and Voting Supplement."

According to Monmouth, its methodology involved "a statewide random sample of 1,333 Nevada voters drawn from a list of registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters who participated in a primary election in the past two election cycles or voted in both the 2016 and 2018 general elections or have registered to vote since November 2018. Results are based on 370 voters who are likely to attend the Democratic presidential caucuses in February 2020."

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The UC Berkeley-Los Angeles Times poll "surveyed 2,131 California voters deemed likely to cast ballots in the Democratic primary" and "the likely primary voters were among 4,435 registered voters statewide surveyed by the poll, conducted online June 4-10," according to the Times.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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