Bumps aside, the polling average shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a clear lead over the next three closest candidates

By Helen Murphy
July 03, 2019 12:30 PM
Randy Shropshire/Getty

Voting to see which Democrat will actually challenge President Donald Trump in 2020 does not begin for seven months, but recent polling shows the field is not as fixed as it first appeared.

Some candidates have been boosted, even unexpectedly, such as Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — cutting into the lead of front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Other contenders who entered the field to much fanfare have faded, such as former Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

In three recent polls, one published by CNN, one by Suffolk University/USA Today and one by Quinnipiac University, Harris, 54, came in second place to Biden, 76. The two shared a viral exchange during the first Democratic debates last week discussing the merits of busing to desegregate schools.

In the Quinnipiac poll, released on Tuesday, Biden narrowly came in first with 22 percent but was almost tied with Harris, who received 20 percent. The poll surveyed 554 Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationally and had a margin of error of five points.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
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Former Vice President Joe Biden

The Suffolk poll, conducted since the debates and just of likely Iowa Democratic caucus voters (the first contest in the primary, set for February), showed Biden with 24 percent, in first, and Harris with 15.6 percent, in second. The margin of error was four points.

The CNN poll, also conducted after the debates, similarly showed Harris in second place, five points behind Biden nationally, with a margin of error of three points, though The New York Times notes that surges in polling immediately following debates can be temporary.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday, of 1,008 adults nationwide, showed Harris in third place among regular Democratic-leaning voters, with 13 percent, behind Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19 and Biden at 30.

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Harris joins Warren, 70, in a polling bump, putting them both about even with Sanders, 77, in second place behind Biden, according to the polling average.

Sanders, conversely, has seen his numbers soften. After officially launching her campaign in February, Warren contended with skeptical headlines about her fundraising. But she began to see an increase around early June after making news with a series of sweeping policy proposals to deal with student debt and other issues. Harris’ spike followed the debates.

Bumps aside, the polling average shows Biden with a clear lead over the next three closest candidates.