The four latest national polls have common themes despite slight differences
Hillary Clinton won the debate, and continues to dominate the Democratic race
There's little room-- or desire-- for Biden in the Democratic field
Trump and Carson have propelled ahead of the rest of the GOP field, and GOP voters are taking Trump seriously
Editor’s Note: This post was updated after Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement that he would not be running for president
Across four major national polls on the presidential race released this week, several big-picture campaign themes emerge – most clearly on where Hillary Clinton stands in Democratic race, how there was little appetite among Democrats for a Joe Biden run, and Donald Trump’s continued dominance of the GOP contest.
The polls – from CNN/ORC, Monmouth University, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post and ABC News, were all conducted after last week’s Democratic debate hosted by CNN and Facebook.
Here’s a look what the polls say about the state of the race:
Hillary Clinton won the debate…
Three of the polls asked about Democrats’ performance in their first debate, held October 13 in Las Vegas. Two of those polls found Hillary Clinton was broadly perceived to have done the best job, in both cases just about doubling the share who felt Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the matchup, with none of the other three candidates on the stage registering above 1%.
One poll asked which candidate “surprised you by doing much better than expected,” and found Clinton and Sanders both exceeded the expectations of about a quarter of Democratic voters: 27% named Clinton, 25% Sanders.
…And continues to dominate the Democratic race.
All four polls had Clinton over Sanders by significant margins, more than 15 points in every case, in the race for the Democratic nomination. None showed Sanders above 30 percent, a marker he’d topped twice before in national polls. All showed Clinton with the support of around half the Democratic electorate.
Those that asked found that most Democratic voters chose Clinton over the rest of the field on top issues or felt that her issue positions were closer to their own than the other candidates. And on two areas that had been vulnerabilities for Clinton prior to the debate - empathy and handling income inequality - the polls that asked found Clinton opening up an advantage over Sanders.
There’s little room – or desire – for Biden in the Democratic field.
Before Biden announced Wednesday that he would not run, the polls showed Democrats’ desire for a Biden candidacy was waning. In the CNN/ORC poll, most Democratic voters said they didn’t think Biden should get in the field, and in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, more Democrats who had an opinion about Biden said he should stay out rather than jump in.
The Monmouth University poll found that just 10% of Democratic voters who aren’t already backing Biden would be “very likely” to consider him over their current choice, another 31% would be somewhat likely to consider him.
Overall, Biden’s support across the four new polls averaged 16%, below the level he was getting before the Democratic debate.
Trump and Carson have propelled ahead of the rest of the GOP field…
All four polls found Donald Trump’s support at 25% or higher, with Ben Carson right around 20%. Combining support for the two in each poll, they draw about half of Republican voters.
No other candidate comes close to Trump or Carson. Behind them, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio landed in third place or a tie for third in three cases, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took third in one. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businesswoman Carly Fiorina also crack the top five in at least one of these polls.
…And GOP voters are taking Trump seriously.
The NBC/WSJ poll finds that 59% of Republican voters say they could see themselves supporting Trump, the first time the poll has found a majority of Republicans that comfortable with the first-time politician. The ABC/Washington Post poll, meanwhile, finds a plurality of Republicans now think he is the candidate most likely to wind up the party’s nominee and with the best chance of winning the presidency in 2016.
Next week’s GOP debate stage is likely to look a lot like the last one.
The new batch of polls are likely the last to be released before before CNBC announces who will make it to the debate stage. And the results suggest the main primetime debate next Wednesday will feature all the candidates who graced the main stage of the last debate, except for Scott Walker, who dropped out of the race.
Ten candidates are averaging above 3% in qualifying polls, the minimum to qualify for the main stage debate set by CNBC, including Trump, Carson, Rubio, Bush, Fiorina and Cruz, who each average above 6%, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who all average around 3%.
An earlier debate for candidates who don’t reach 3% in an average of qualifying polls but who have hit 1% in at least one of those polls looks likely to feature South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.