Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) may be underestimated in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to a flurry of new polling released in the last week.

The polls show Sanders is firmly entrenched in the race’s top tier of candidates with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) — and that there is some distance between these three candidates and the rest of the field.

Overall, the polling underlines that at this stage, Biden is the race’s front-runner.


But the surveys give considerable hope to Sanders, who has been largely overshadowed over the past few months by Warren’s buzzy campaign. Given his grass-roots fundraising and his organization, the polling suggests Sanders will be in the race for the long haul and that he stands a good chance of winning.

“He has the money, the campaign infrastructure and an intense base of supporters,” said one Democratic strategist. “Does he have a tough road to the nomination? Of course, all of the candidates do. But has he been overlooked so far? Absolutely. Out of all the candidates, he is the one you can definitely say is in this for the long haul.”

A Pew Research analysis found that Sanders is winning more black voters than Warren, though she is doubling him among white voters. Sanders has a narrow 1-point edge over Warren in the poll among Hispanic voters.

Both of the two progressives badly trail Biden among black and Hispanic voters, and unless that changes the former vice president is likely to win the nomination. But the Pew poll also shows many of those voters are undecided.

Warren is ahead of Sanders among voters with post-graduate degrees and four-year college degrees, while Sanders has an edge over Warren among those with some college or a high school education or less.

This is a point the Sanders team has been emphasizing as it argues their candidate appeals to different voters than Warren.

“Their bases really are not co-extensive,” Sanders campaign adviser Jeff Weaver told TheHill.TV on Monday. “His base is much more diverse, much more working-class. Her base is much more college-educated, and so they are not really at this point competing for the same pool of voters.”

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More than half of Warren’s supporters identify as either “very liberal” or “liberal” — 35 percent and 20 percent, respectively — while only 7 percent described themselves as moderate or conservative Democrats.

Ten percent of Sanders supporters in the Pew poll identified as moderate or conservative Democrats.

Warren carries the largest margin of any candidate among voters with postgraduate degrees. Sanders has significant support among those with four-year degrees — 14 percent — but more of his voters have not graduated from college, the Pew survey found.

In the money race, Sanders has raised more than any other candidate this year and is on track to become the first presidential candidate to reach the 1 million donor mark. He has $27 million in the bank, which is also tops in the field, and a recent New York Times analysis found that Sanders’s donors are more geographically diverse than any other candidate.

New polls released this week have shown Warren and Sanders, along with Biden, beating Trump in head-to-head matchups. Such polls are important since Biden’s campaign argues he is the candidate best suited to take on Trump.

An Emerson University survey released Tuesday found Sanders and Biden leading Trump by 10 points in Colorado, while Warren leads the president by 7 points.

Contrary to reports that Sanders has been slipping in the polls, several recent surveys have found Sanders’s support to be stable, even as other candidates have risen and fallen around him.

A Morning Consult survey released Tuesday found Biden leading at 31 percent nationally, with Sanders firmly in second place at 20 percent, followed by Warren at 15.

A CNN–SSRS poll released Tuesday found Biden at 29 percent, followed by Sanders at 15 percent and Warren at 14 percent.

While Warren has sought to stake out her claim as the premier issues-based candidate, the CNN survey found that Sanders is the only top tier candidate who polls better among voters who prize issues over electability.

Warren is pulling big crowds of voters, and her lead among the Democratic Party’s most liberal voters could propel her to victory in Iowa.

But Sanders remains in the thick of things in the early-voting states.

A Gravis Marketing survey released last week found Sanders leading in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state, with 21 percent support, followed by Biden at 15. Most polls find Sanders in second place in New Hampshire, but his support has been steady near the top and he is averaging 19.3 percent support in the Granite State, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Sanders won New Hampshire over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE in 2016 after a narrow loss in Iowa.

Part of Sanders’s challenge owes to his lackluster support among older Democrats, who tend to be more moderate but turn out to vote in higher numbers. According to the Pew Research survey, only 4 percent of voters 65 and older said they are supporting him in the primary. Warren and Biden, meanwhile, attracted 16 percent and 41 percent support, respectively, among those voters. 

“He has a strong campaign in terms of volunteers, staff and money,” said Andrew Feldman, a Democratic strategist. “He’s going to be around for an extended period of time, but he’s got to figure out how to expand his strong base of support. It’s great that he’s remained steady, while we’ve seen others like Harris or Buttigieg lose support. But to beat Biden and hold off Warren you have to expand, and the central question of his campaign is whether he can do that.”

Sanders’s critics have long argued that his brand of progressivism — and his embrace of the democratic socialist label — would isolate more moderate voters and all but ensure a second term for Trump. 

The Sanders team rejects that narrative. They think they can also pull votes from Biden, though the former vice president’s campaign doesn’t appear worried the more liberal Sanders will take from him. Biden appears focused on Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.), who in a new CNN poll was floundering at 5 percent.

Veteran Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, a columnist for The Hill, said the challenge for Sanders is that it can be difficult for a universally known candidate to grow support.

“There’s no question he’s a serious candidate in this race and has a real possibility of winning the nomination,” Mellman said. “But he’s also one of the best known, he’s been around the track before, his name recognition is as high or higher than most others, and it can be harder to grow when you’re that well-known.”

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