Three polls released in the aftermath of the first Democratic debates show former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in the campaign for the presidential nomination shrinking to as few as 5 percentage points amid significant gains for Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
CNN released a poll Monday showing that 22 percent of registered Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents said Biden would be their pick, a decline of 10 percentage points from the last CNN poll, in May. Seventeen percent of those polled said they’d back California’s Harris, 15 percent supported Massachusetts’ Warren, and 14 percent backed indepdenent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Here are some takeaways from all three polls.
Harris’ support doubled in the Morning Consult survey. Before the debates, fewer than 8 percent of respondents said they would vote for her if the primary were held tomorrow; almost 17 percent of those surveyed afterward were for her. Most of the growth in support came from voters who were initially backing Warren or Biden, the poll shows.
Harris, Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro also all saw their favorability ratings increase after the debates Wednesday and Thursday. Warren went from 63 percent of Democratic likely voters viewing her favorably before the debates to 73 percent afterward; Harris’ favorability rating jumped from 56 percent to 66 percent; Booker went from 47 percent to 56 percent; and Castro’s went from 29 percent viewing him positively to 49 percent.
In the CNN poll, Harris and Biden had about even support among Democrats overall, white voters, young voters, nonwhite women, and people who watched the debate, But Biden outperformed Harris among black voters, 36 percent to 24 percent.
Biden also leads Harris in the CNN poll with older voters (34 percent to 14 percent for Harris, 12 percent for Warren, and 7 percent for Sanders). Among self-identified moderate and conservative Democrats, 31 percent back Biden, compared with 11 percent who favor Harris, 10 percent who support Warren, and 8 percent choosing Sanders.
CNN’s poll is based on responses from of 1,613 registered voters who are Democrats or lean toward the Democrats, reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer; the network says results are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample, higher for sub-samples such as ethnic or racial groups and ideology.
Before the debate, 38.5 percent of those polled by Morning Consult said they would vote for Biden if the primary were that day. That dropped to 31 percent after Thursday evening. Most of the people who switched their support moved to Harris, followed by Warren, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and others, the poll found.
A key question for Democratic voters is who can beat President Donald Trump. On the question of electability, Biden, still the front-runner, took a post-debate hit. In the HuffPost/YouGov poll, 57 percent of respondents said Biden was capable of winning the general election if nominated, down from 70 percent before the debates. (In the CNN poll, 43 percent of potential Democratic voters said Biden stood the best chance of beating Trump in 2020, 30 points ahead of the next closest candidate, Sanders.)
On whether she could beat Trump, Warren gained 9 points, with 51 percent saying she was electable, up from 40 percent before the debate. Harris moved from 39 to 49 percent on the question and Julian Castro saw a significant gain from nine to 21 percent.
Despite what analysts considered a bad night for Biden, his favorability dropped only slightly, from 76 to 74 percent, in the Morning Consult poll. In the HuffPo poll, 35 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters said their opinion of Biden had worsened after the debate, while 24 percent said it had improved.
Sanders neither lost nor gained in the Morning Consult poll. About 16 percent of those who watched the debate said they’d vote for him before and after the debates. About 46 percent of respondents said Sanders could win the general election, up a percentage point from those polled before the debates.
Buttigieg gained 7 points in favorability, but the percentage of respondents who said they would vote for him dropped by about 1 percent.
Campaigns with good fundraising news to share seized on the days after the debate to blast out their successes. Buttigieg’s campaign announced Monday that he had brought in $24 million in the last three months, tripling his last reported total.
Harris announced she brought in $2 million the day after the debate; that’s more than she raised on the day she announced her candidacy.
Several campaigns boasted fundraising surges without releasing dollar amounts. Booker’s campaign said he had his second-best online fundraising day Thursday, and Castro said Thursday was three times as lucrative as his next best fundraising day.
All campaigns must report their fundraising for the second quarter by July 15. Biden has told supporters his campaign has raised close to $20 million. Sanders previously reported raising $18.2 million in the first quarter; Harris, $12 million; O’Rourke, $9.4 million, and Warren, $6 million.
Marianne Williamson, a lecturer and author on spirituality, was the most Googled name during the second night of the debates, likely due to her being a relatively unknown candidate and having several meme-worthy moments.
Health care was the issue most people were searching during the debate.