Live analysis: CNN's latest Democratic primary poll

Analysis by Harry Enten, CNN

Updated 7:49 a.m. ET, July 2, 2019
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6:41 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

Democrats still think Biden is the most electable

The one thing Joe Biden still has going for him is voters think he is the most electable in a year in which voters are prizing electability. In our poll, 43% of potential Democratic primary voters say Biden has the best chance to beat Trump. That's significantly higher than Bernie Sanders (13%), Kamala Harris (12%) or Elizabeth Warren (12%).

While it's difficult to know which candidate will eventually be the most electable, you can understand why voters think Biden has the most crossover appeal.

Take a look at the net favorability (favorable-unfavorable) ratings among the top four Democrats among those voters who are not Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents.

  • Biden: -42 points
  • Harris: -46 points
  • Sanders: -57 points
  • Warren: -55 points

Biden, in other words, has the "best" rating among non-Democrats of the top contenders. Interestingly, Biden's net favorability rating is actually up 2 points from late May, even though his standing among Democrats has fallen. Harris' rating has also improved since about a month ago.

Meanwhile, the two candidates on the left part of the party, Sanders and Warren, have the worst rating.

It's not all good news for Biden on the electability front, however. Less voters think he is the most electable than previously. When Quinnipiac University asked potential Democratic primary voters who they thought had the best chance of beating Trump in April, 56% said Biden.

5:41 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

How the Democratic primary is like the Los Angeles freeways

You'll often hear the word "lane" thrown around when it comes to the primaries. For example, there is a liberal lane, a moderate lane, etc.

Our poll (as well as others) suggest that the 2020 Democratic primary is more like the LA freeway, with under and overpasses around and about. That is, there may be lanes, but they intersect each other quite frequently.

Take for example age and ideology. Biden does best among those age 50 and over at 28%. He gets just 15% among those under age 50. Biden scores 31% among those who call themselves moderate and conservative, while only taking in 12% among self-described liberals. (Harris is ahead with this group at 24%.)

Now look at those liberals age 50 and older. Biden jumps to 19%, which is good enough for first among this group.

Or perhaps, you want to look at age and race. Biden does somewhat better among all nonwhite voters at 25% than white voters at 20%. But when you break it down by age, you see Biden gets up to 26% among whites age 50 and older. He's at just 12% among white voters under 50. Among nonwhites voters 50 years and older, Biden gets over 30%.

The point is the effect of different demographic and political variables are not occurring in isolation. They all work together to form voter opinions.

6:15 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

Only 8 of 23 candidates get a qualifying poll for the September debate

The qualification requirements are about to get significantly tougher for making the debate stage. Instead of needing 1% in three qualifying polls to make the September debate (as in the June and July debate), candidates will need 2% in 4 qualifying polls released between June 28 and August 28.

Our CNN poll is the first poll candidates can use to qualify for the debate. As previously discussed, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren all got at least 4% in our poll.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, (3%) Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (2%) and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke (3%) all also got to that 2% threshold.

No other candidate managed to reach that point.

Indeed our poll points to the trouble that a lot of candidates may have getting 2%. There were an additional four candidates (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Andrew Yang) who got 1%. Beyond that, no one could even reach 1%.

It's one thing to get 1% by chance even when you don't have 1% of the Democratic primary electorate supporting you.

It's another thing entirely to get to 2% by chance alone.

Additionally, candidates will have only two months to reach that 2%. They'll need to do it four times.

Unless something changes, the number of debaters will shrink dramatically.

5:02 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

Biden leads among African-Americans, but Harris gains significantly

One of the more interesting facets of the Democratic primary campaign so far has been how Joe Biden, the former vice president to the first black president, has held a lead among black voters, even as two black senators are running.

Biden still leads with 36%, while Kamala Harris comes in with 24%. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders follow with 12% and 9% respectively. Warren and Sanders are about where they were in a combination of our April and May samples.

Biden's advantage though has definitely ebbed over the last few months. In our April and May combined samples, Biden led the pack among African-Americans with 49%.

Meanwhile, Harris was all the way back in fourth place with 6%. In other words, she's jumped about 20 points.

Harris' gain follows a significant uptick in endorsements from black lawmakers. Harris now leads Biden in endorsements from Congressional Black Caucus members.

Biden's drop follows last week's debate, when Harris called him out for how he spoke about segregationist senators and his past opposition to federally mandated desegregation busing.

Harris may have additional growth with black Democratic voters. More than 20% cannot form an opinion of her. Less than 10% cannot form an opinion of Biden. More black voters (29%) trust her on race relations than trust Biden (23%).

Interestingly, our poll shows no movement for the other African-American in the race, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. He pulls a mere 2% in the poll. That's actually down a statistically insignificant 2 points from an aggregate of our April and May polls.

4:46 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

Most Democrats do not want to eliminate private insurance

One of the big fault-lines in last week's Democratic debates was whether there should be private insurance to compete with a government health care plan. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren believed there shouldn't be. Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg said that there should be a "public option" and private insurance. Kamala Harris' stance remains somewhat hazy, though she seems to lean toward a place for private insurance.

Interestingly, more voters trust Sanders (26%) on health care than any other candidate.

I say interestingly because CNN also asked voters whether they wanted a national health care plan and followed up with whether private insurance should be eliminated among those who said yes.

Despite some heavy hitters saying that private insurance should all but be eliminated, just 30% of potential Democratic primary voters feel that way. The plurality, 49%, said that there should be a public option. Another 13% don't want any government run plan.

Take a look at the breakdown by candidate. Only 21% of Biden backers want to get rid of private insurance. That percentage drops down to 18% among Harris backers. Perhaps a sign that she would be wisest to stick with the idea that there should be private insurance plans.

We don't have a large enough sample size to look at Sanders and Warren backers individually, but take a look at our combined sample of both Sanders and Warren supporters. Among them, a plurality of 46% want private insurance completely replaced. That's just ahead of the 45% who want private insurance to remain in competition.

This makes a lot sense given that 51% of self-described very liberal Democratic voters want to get rid of private insurance. Among somewhat liberal and moderate/conservative Democrats, only about 25% do.

4:48 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

Pete Buttigieg raised a ton of money, but he's lagging in new CNN poll

Besides Joe Biden, our poll has to be the most disappointing for Pete Buttigieg. Buttigieg announced earlier today that he had raised nearly $25 million in the second quarter.

Yet, Buttigieg comes in with only 4% support in the race for the Democratic nomination. That's down from 5% from in late May and 7% in late April.

Buttigieg's big problem continues to be black Democrats. He scores 0% with them in our poll, which is actually less than the 1% he had with them in a combined sample of our April and May polls.

Buttigieg, though, doesn't really do well with any group. Among no ideological group (moderate/conservative, somewhat liberal or very liberal) does he get better than 5%. He pulls in a mere 8% among college-educated whites who have traditionally been his best group.

Perhaps most amazingly, Buttigieg earns 8% of the vote from those who hold a favorable view of him. This represents a slight drop for him of 12% from this same group of voters in late May. The Democratic primary leader among this group who holds a favorable view of Buttigieg (48% of the potential primary electorate) is actually Harris at 25%.

Part of Buttigieg's lackluster polling may be that he seems to have been outshone by Harris in last week's debate. Among those who watched or paid close attention to at least one debate, 41% said Harris did best. Just 3% said Buttigieg.

4:03 p.m. ET, July 1, 2019

Kamala Harris sees big post-debate bump as Joe Biden falls

Former Vice President Joe Biden has fallen significantly in the first CNN/SSRS poll conducted after the first Democratic debate last week.

Biden scored 22% (down from 32% in May). while California Sen. Kamala Harris has jumped into second place at 17% (up from 8%).

The fall of Biden and rise of Harris follows a pivotal debate moment in which Harris forcefully confronted Biden over his opposition in the 1970s and '80s to federally mandated desegregation busing. Harris was widely viewed as coming out better from that exchange.

Rounding out the top three is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who comes in with 15%. This is higher than the 7% she took in CNN's May poll, though the same as she scored in a Monmouth University poll in mid-June.

The only other candidate to hit double digits is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, at 14%. That's a decline from 18% in our May CNN poll, but equal to what he took in from Monmouth in mid-June.

Amazingly, no other candidate hit even 5% in the over 20 person Democratic primary field. This includes South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who, despite raising nearly $25 million in the second quarter of 2019, received support from only 4% of voters.