Harris Gets Big Debate Bounce in New Poll, While Biden Sinks

July 2, 2019 by Dan McCue
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) speaks during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate on Thursday, June 27, 2019, at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has jumped into a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination following her widely praised debate performance last week, a national poll released Tuesday showed.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters showed Biden with 22 percent support and Harris with 20 percent — a double-digit jump for her since the university’s previous poll last month.

Just as significantly, Biden’s 2 percentage point lead over Harris was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were in third and fourth place in the poll, with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was in fifth, with 4 percent support.

No other candidate got more than 3 percent in the poll.

“Round 1 of the Democratic debates puts Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden on two different trajectories, as support for Harris surges but continues to slip for Biden,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in a statement.

“Biden’s once-commanding lead has evaporated,” she added.

The poll, conducted June 28 to July 1, also showed that Harris had caught up with Biden in receiving support from black Democratic voters — a bloc with which Biden has done well.

In the latest poll, Biden’s support among black Democratic voters shrunk to 31 percent from 48 percent in the June poll.

Harris, on the other hand, saw her support among black Democratic voters grow to 27 percent, from 11 percent in the June poll.

“There are other red flags for him in areas where he still leads, including double digit drops among Democrats and Democratic leaners who view him as the best leader, or as the best candidate to defeat President Trump in 2020,” said Quinnipiac’s Snow.

In the Quinnipiac’s poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters last month, Biden received the support of 30 percent of the respondents, while Sanders had 19 percent, Warren had 15 percent and Buttigieg had 8 percent.

Harris had the support of just 7 percent.

Democrats and Democratic leaners were also asked which candidate they thought had the best chance of winning against President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, regardless of who they support in the primary.

Biden tops the field with 42 percent, which is a drop from the 56 percent that he received on April 30. Harris comes in a distant second with 14 percent in today’s poll, up from 2 percent in April. Sanders receives 13 percent, and no other candidate reaches double digits.

When asked who would be the best leader, Biden again tops the field with 26 percent, an 18-point drop from the 44 percent he received the last time this question was asked.

Harris finishes second with 16 percent, up from 6 percent in April. Sanders and Warren are tied with 15 percent, while no other candidate reaches double digits.

In a question about which candidate has the best policy ideas, Warren takes the lead with 31 percent, compared to 19 percent in April. Sanders is next with 18 percent, while Biden receives 11 percent, a drop from 23 percent in April. Harris is at 8 percent, and no other candidate tops 3 percent.

“When it comes to policy ideas, Senator Elizabeth Warren scores higher than any of the Democratic presidential contenders. However, it didn’t give her a boost in her overall numbers in the primary race,” Snow said.

Forty percent of Democrats and Democratic leaning voters say they watched most of the debates, while another 40 percent paid close attention to news stories about the debates.

Of those who did one or the other, 47 percent say Harris did the best job in the recent debates, followed by Warren at 17 percent, Biden at 6 percent, and Sanders at 5 percent. When asked who did the worst job in the debates, 16 percent of these voters say self-help author Marianne Williamson, while Biden receives a nearly identical 15 percent.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 554 Democrats and voters leaning Democratic nationwide from June 28 to July 1 with a margin of error of +/- 5 percentage points, including the design effect.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts gold standard surveys using random digit dialing with live interviewers calling landlines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts nationwide surveys and polls in more than a dozen states on national and statewide elections, as well as public policy issues.

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