February 10, 2020 – In the wake of the Iowa caucuses and heading into the New Hampshire primary, there is a dramatic shift in the Democratic primary race for president as Senator Bernie Sanders claims frontrunner status for the first time, overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Sanders gets 25 percent of the vote among Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic, while Biden gets 17 percent, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg receives 15 percent, Senator Elizabeth Warren gets 14 percent, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg receives 10 percent, and Senator Amy Klobuchar gets 4 percent. No other candidate tops 2 percent.
In a January 28th poll, prior to the Iowa caucuses, Biden had a modest lead with 26 percent of the vote while Sanders got 21 percent, Warren had 15 percent, Bloomberg received 8 percent, Klobuchar got 7 percent, and Buttigieg received 6 percent.
“Biden scrambles to bounce back in frigid New Hampshire after an icy slide to 17 percent, his lowest national number,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Analyst Tim Malloy.
“Is the Bloomberg camp prepping the white horse for him to ride to the rescue? Maybe not yet, but without setting foot in Iowa or New Hampshire, he is suddenly a looming shadow over the primary field,” Malloy added.
Among moderate and conservative Democrats and Democratic leaners, there is now a close race for the top spot. This group had favored Biden by a wide margin, but his challengers are making inroads. Today, Biden receives 22 percent, Bloomberg gets 21 percent, Sanders gets 17 percent, and Buttigieg receives 12 percent.
Biden no longer dominates on the key question of electability, as 27 percent say Biden has the best chance of winning against Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, while 24 percent say Sanders, 17 percent say Bloomberg, and 9 percent say Buttigieg. In the January 28th poll, Biden led on this question with 44 percent, followed by Sanders at 19 percent and Bloomberg at 9 percent.
“Clearly Biden’s fourth place finish in Iowa has hurt the perception of what was his biggest strength – electability,” Malloy said.
THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Among all registered voters, Democratic candidates lead President Trump in general election matchups by between 4 and 9 percentage points, with Bloomberg claiming the biggest numerical lead against Trump:
- Bloomberg tops Trump 51 – 42 percent;
- Sanders defeats Trump 51 – 43 percent;
- Biden beats Trump 50 – 43 percent;
- Klobuchar defeats Trump 49 – 43 percent;
- Warren wins narrowly over Trump 48 – 44 percent;
- Buttigieg is also slightly ahead of Trump 47 – 43 percent.
President Trump’s favorability rating is underwater, as 42 percent of registered voters have a favorable opinion of him, while 55 percent have an unfavorable view of him. However, it is his best favorability rating since a March 7th, 2017 poll, when his favorability rating was a negative 43 – 53 percent.
Like President Trump, the top four Democratic candidates in the primary are viewed more unfavorably than favorably. Warren has the worst net score (favorable minus unfavorable) among all registered voters, with Biden close behind. Biden’s favorability numbers have been declining over the last year since his positive 53 – 33 percent favorability rating in a December 19th, 2018 poll. In today’s poll:
- Warren gets a negative 39 – 47 percent favorability rating;
- Biden gets a negative 43 – 50 percent;
- Bloomberg gets a negative 34 – 40 percent, with 25 percent who haven’t heard enough about him;
- Sanders gets a negative 44 – 49 percent;
- Buttigieg gets a positive 36 – 32 percent, and 31 percent haven’t heard enough about him;
- Klobuchar gets a positive 32 – 22 percent, with 44 percent who haven’t heard enough about her.
TRUMP JOB APPROVAL
Less than a week after President Trump was acquitted in the Senate impeachment trial and delivered his State of the Union address, the president’s job approval continues to match his highest approval number, with 43 percent of voters saying they approve of the job President Trump is doing and 53 percent saying they disapprove. This remains essentially unchanged since mid-December 2019. Broken down along party lines, Republicans approve 89 – 9 percent, Democrats disapprove 94 – 4 percent, and independents are split with 46 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving.
Looking at how President Trump compares to his two predecessors at the same point in their re-election years, voters gave President Obama a slightly negative 45 – 49 percent job approval rating in February of 2012, and President Bush a slightly positive 48 – 45 percent job approval rating in February of 2004. Unlike President Trump, though, both presidents had hit higher approval ratings in their previous years in office. President Obama had hit a high of 59 percent approval in 2009, and President Bush received a high of 83 percent approval in 2001.
“Fresh from acquittal by the Senate, feistily throwing haymakers in every direction, the president presumably has a strong economy to ride all the way to Election Day. The Democrats are facing a reinvigorated and formidable Trump,” added Malloy.
President Trump continues to score high marks on his handling of the economy. Voters approve 54 – 42 percent of his handling of the economy, compared to his all-time high of 57 – 38 percent on January 13th, 2020. Republicans approve 97 – 3 percent, Democrats disapprove 81 – 15 percent, and independents approve 59 – 37 percent.
When asked about their personal financial situations, voters say 59 – 20 percent that they are better off financially than they were in 2016, the last presidential election year, while 19 percent say their financial situation is the same. This compares to a December 10th, 2019 survey that found 57 percent were better off, 22 percent were worse off, and 19 percent were the same.
Overall, 70 percent of voters describe the nation’s economy as excellent or good and 29 percent describe it as not so good or poor. That is just slightly lower than the all-time high set on December 16th, 2019, when 73 percent said excellent or good and 25 percent said not so good or poor.
American voters are evenly split, 49 – 49 percent, on the Senate’s decision to acquit President Trump of both articles of impeachment. Republicans approve 95 – 4 percent, independents approve 53 – 45 percent, and Democrats disapprove 90 – 8 percent.
Despite the acquittal, voters say 55 – 40 percent that the Senate voting to acquit President Trump does not clear him of any wrongdoing in the Ukraine matter. Republicans say 81 – 12 percent that the acquittal clears the president of wrongdoing, while Democrats 91 – 6 percent and independents 54 – 40 percent say it does not. By 51 – 46 percent, voters say the charges against President Trump were serious enough for him to be impeached and put on trial.
Voters say 59 – 35 percent that the Senate impeachment trial was conducted unfairly.
From February 5 – 9, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,519 self-identified registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. The survey includes 665 Democratic voters and independent voters who lean Democratic with a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.
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.