Is it bye-bye Bernie? Second straight poll points to Warren-Biden battle for N.H. 

  • Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden, left and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talk Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by ABC at Texas Southern University in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) David J. Phillip

For the Monitor
Published: 10/1/2019 6:12:01 PM

For the second straight week, a poll in the Democratic race the first-in-the-nation president primary state highlights a two-candidate battle for the top spot between Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The new survey – conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center – also indicates that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg are fighting for a very distant third place, with everyone else in the record-setting field of Democratic White House hopefuls in the mid to low single digits.

Warren, the populist senator who’s pushed out one progressive policy proposal after another, stands at 25% in the Democratic nomination race survey, which was released on Tuesday. Biden, who was the sole front-runner in most national and early primary and caucus voting state polls since even before he announced his candidacy in late April, is at 24%. Warren’s slight one percentage point edge is well within the poll’s margin of error.

“There remain several months before New Hampshire Democrats cast their primary ballots, but Warren and Biden have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the field,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics executive director Neil Levesque said.

“If the dynamic of Warren as the candidate that best expresses Democratic voters’ policy preferences and Biden as the one who has the best chance of beating Trump sets in with voters, this is likely turning into a two-person race absent a big shake-up,” he added.

Sanders, the populist independent senator who crushed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary in New Hampshire, stands at 11% in the survey, with Buttigieg at 10%.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California registers at 5% in the survey, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii each at 3%.

Businessman and billionaire environmental and progressive activist Tom Steyer and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang are each at 2%, with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey at 1%. Everyone else sampled came in at less than 1%, with 9% undecided with just over four months to go until primary day.

“There is still some fluidity in this race, as 65% of Warren supporters, 72% of Biden supporters, 56% of Sanders supporters, and 73% of Buttigieg voters indicate that they expect that their choice could change between now and the primary election,” Levesque noted.

The poll indicates that among voters who are not firm in the choice, Warren is the second choice for 26%, with Biden a distant second at 12%.

“This suggests that when the field begins to winnow down, Warren may be in the best position to pick up other candidates’ support,” Levesque said.

Warren – at 27% – topped the field of candidates on the question of who would make the best president. Biden came out on top – at 37% – when asked who would be the strongest nominee to take on Republican President Donald Trump in next year’s general election.

The release of the new poll comes a week after a Monmouth University’s survey in New Hampshire grabbed national attention for showing Warren and Biden fighting for the top spot, with Sanders a distant third.

Previous polls conducted earlier in September and in late August in the Granite State were all over the board, with one suggesting Sanders holding a lead; another indicating a three-way tie among Biden, Warren and Sanders; and a third pointing to Sanders trailing Biden and Warren.

The Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll was conducted Sept. 25 to 29, with 423 registered voters in New Hampshire who indicated they were likely to vote in the state’s Democratic presidential primary questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

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