Welcome to Poll Watch from On Politics. Every Friday, we’ll bring you the latest data and analysis to track the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Current state of the race
|Arrows show recent changes in value or rank. See more detailed data here.|
Who’s up? Who’s down? Here’s the latest.
There are less than three weeks to go in the Iowa caucus campaign, but we may already have seen its climactic moment: the debate-stage confrontation between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren over gender, sexism and personal honesty. The two progressives have been leading candidates for months, but neither has been able to sideline the other. As a result, our polling average continues to show Joe Biden with a relatively modest but stable lead among Democratic voters nationally.
It may be difficult for another campaign-trail moment to break through because of the impeachment trial that began on Thursday in Washington. The proceedings against President Trump started to overshadow the primary contest last fall, and the start of the actual trial will only intensify that dynamic. For several candidates — including Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and Amy Klobuchar — the trial will also disrupt campaign travel, since they will have to attend to their duties in the Senate.
But the race may not be quite as flat as our polling average suggests. If it appears that no candidates have moved in more than a month, that may be because we have had so little data to work with. There has been only one reliable national poll since the start of the year; it found Mr. Biden holding a six-point lead over Mr. Sanders, with Ms. Warren a few points behind him. Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg were in single digits.
The picture in the early states is somewhat more defined, and yet, perhaps even less conclusive. The top four candidates have been bunched up in Iowa and New Hampshire, while Mr. Biden has been leading in Nevada (by a modest margin) and South Carolina (by a convincing one.) Two different Iowa polls over the last week tipped different men as slight favorites, with a Des Moines Register/CNN survey favoring Mr. Sanders and a Monmouth University poll favoring Mr. Biden.
The closeness of the early-state race is, in part, why the Sanders-Warren friction this week seems so important. In order for a progressive to win the nomination, one of the two will most likely have to establish a clear advantage over the other in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then rally liberals into a unified coalition in later states. The events of this week may have made both tasks harder.