Joe Biden continues to lead the crowded Democratic primary field, new poll shows

Kamala Harris has doubled her support since the first 2020 Democratic primary debate

By Matthew Rozsa
Published July 23, 2019 5:22PM (EDT)
Joe Biden; Kamala Harris; Elizabeth Warren; Bernie Sanders (AP/Getty)
Joe Biden; Kamala Harris; Elizabeth Warren; Bernie Sanders (AP/Getty)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is still leading his Democratic rivals in the most recent Morning Consult poll assessing the state of the 2020 race — but he is not dominating the field.

The survey finds Biden in the lead with 33 percent of the vote among all Democratic primary voters. He is followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has 18 percent support; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has 14 percent support; and Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who has 13 percent support.

They top four are the only candidates with double-digit support in the recent survey. The next on the list is Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who governs the Indiana city of South Bend and has 5 percent of voters’ support.

The rankings are roughly the same when adjusted to monitor for early primary state voters. Biden is still in the lead with 33 percent, followed by Sanders with 21 percent. Harris and Warren are tied at 11 percent, while Buttigieg has 6 percent.

One of the big takeaways from the poll is that Harris has doubled her support since the first 2020 Democratic primary debate, in which she had a standout moment as she confronted Biden over the issue of school busing.

"It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country, and it was not only that: You also worked with them to oppose busing," Harris told Biden.

She added, "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me. So, I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly."

The former vice president replied, "I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education."

One polling analyst who spoke to Salon agreed that Harris' confrontation with Biden impacted the former vice president's standing in polls, although he added that it was not clear if it had caused any kind of serious or lasting damage to his presidential campaign.

"Overall, I’d say that the broader trend is that Biden was hurt to some degree by the debate and that Harris was helped, but the effects have not been all that overwhelming, particularly as memories of the debate have faded," Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told Salon by email. "Given that Harris will share the stage with Biden again, I would expect her to keep up the heat on the former vice president. We’ll have to see if Biden is better prepared this time."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff 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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