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CNN poll: Most Democrats say bring on Biden

By Jennifer Agiesta, CNN | Posted - Feb 10th, 2019 @ 11:50am


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WASHINGTON (CNN) — More than six in 10 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say former Vice President Joe Biden should make a run for president, according to a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS, and half of all Americans say they would be at least somewhat likely to back him should he run for the White House.

At the same time, 52 percent of Americans say they are not at all likely to support President Donald Trump for re-election in the coming 2020 contest.

About half of Democrats and Democratic-leaners (49 percent) say the ability to beat Trump is extremely important to them in deciding whom to support for their party's nomination in 2020, that outpaces the second highest-rated trait — having the right experience to be president — by 10 points.

Support for a bid from Biden is higher among Democratic voters this year (62 percent) than it was in 2015. Back then, only about half of Democratic voters said they wanted Biden to run (53 percent in August, 47 percent in October).

Biden gets a boost from white Democrats without college degrees (72 percent say he should run, compared with 52 percent of whites with degrees) and women (66 percent say he should run vs. 58 percent of men).

The former vice president hasn't declared a run for president or even announced an exploratory committee, saying last week that he's "closer" to a decision than he was in December.

But Biden is one of two candidates in the poll who generate stronger support among those Democrats who consider the ability to beat Trump "extremely important" in choosing their party's nominee. About half of those who prioritize winning say they are very likely to support Biden. Among those who see the ability to beat Trump as less important, 38 percent support him. California Sen. Kamala Harris is the other candidate to garner greater support among these voters who prioritize beating Trump (38 percent of those who call the ability to beat Trump extremely important favor Harris, compared to 25 percent support for her among those who say the ability to beat Trump is less critical).

Biden led the large potential Democratic field in two previous CNN national polls, as well as in a CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers. This time around, the survey did not include a traditional horserace question, but instead asked voters how likely they would be to support each of nine potential Democratic candidates, plus the President and businessman Howard Schultz, who has said he is contemplating an independent bid for the presidency.

Among Democrats, Biden has greater support than anyone else tested: 44 percent say they are very likely to support him, 32 percent say so of Harris, 30 percent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 21 percent Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 19 percent New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and 15 percent former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

Less than 10 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents said they were very likely to back the other three candidates — New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. For Gillibrand and Brown, those lower support numbers appear related to awareness — 30 percent were unsure how likely they'd be to back Brown, 21 percent Gillibrand, the two largest "unsure" shares in the field. But for Bloomberg, lower support appears connected to opposition: A majority of Democrats said they would be unlikely to back him for president in 2020, including 30 percent who say that's not at all likely.

Among all Americans, Trump generates the sharpest opposition (52 percent say they are not at all likely to support him), with Bloomberg (44 percent), Schultz (44 percent) and Sanders (42 percent) the only others to have been ruled out by more than 4 in 10 Americans.

Trump prompts a massive gender gap when Americans are asked how likely they are to support his run for a second term. Among women, 67 percent say they are unlikely to back him. Men split almost evenly on the question, with 50 percent at least somewhat likely to support him and 49 percent unlikely to do so.

The education and race divides that drove the 2016 contest show no signs of abating. Among non-whites, 80 percent are unlikely to back the President, compared with 46 percent of whites. Among whites with college degrees, a majority are unlikely to back the president (56 percent), while 58 percent of whites who do not hold degrees take the opposite view.

The prospect of an independent run from Schultz merits tepid support in the poll. Just 20 percent of adults say they are at least somewhat likely to support him in 2020, while 66 percent say that's unlikely — the worst numbers for any candidate tested. While that's at least partly related to Schultz being a newcomer — 46 percent say they've never heard of him — his numbers are no better among those who do know of him (69 percent in that group say they are unlikely to support him).

Aside from Schultz's recent flirtations with a bid, the period since CNN's last polling check-in on the Democratic field saw the launch of exploratory committees or campaigns from seven Democrats seeking the party's nod. Booker's campaign launch on February 1 occurred after the poll was fielded.

The survey tested favorability ratings for the other six who have announced since December. Harris, whose CNN town hall took place two days before the survey went in to the field, saw an 11-point rise in her favorability rating among Democrats since December (from 38 percent favorable then to 49 percent now), while Warren's numbers have held even over that time (51 percent favorable then, 52 percent now).

Majorities in the party have yet to form an opinion on Julian Castro (66 percent), Kirsten Gillibrand (67 percent), Pete Buttigieg (84 percent) or Tulsi Gabbard (84 percent).

The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS January 30 through February 2 among a random national sample of 1,011 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, for the subsample of 477 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, it is 5.6 points.

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