Poll: Biden leads Democratic field, Warren drops to third place

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE leads the field of Democratic presidential contenders nationally, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.) has seen her front-runner status slip, according to the Monmouth University poll released on Tuesday.

The poll shows Biden in the top spot with 26 percent support. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.), meanwhile, finished in second place with 21 percent support, just within the survey’s 5-point margin of error. 

Warren finished in third place with 17 percent support — a 6-point drop since Monmouth’s last national primary poll in November and 11 points down from where she was in a similar September survey. Still, she’s not far behind Sanders, and her favorability among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters ties that of Biden at 76 percent.

ADVERTISEMENT

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Poll shows tight general election battle between Trump and top Democrats MORE (D), who has gained momentum in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent months, sits in a distant fourth place with 8 percent support in the nominating contest, according to the Monmouth poll. That’s statistically identical to the 9 percent support he notched in the university’s November survey.

The poll results suggest that, less than two months before voting begins in the nominating contest, the top tier of the primary field remains fluid, with no single candidate pulling away from the rest of the pack. 

There’s some evidence that former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire Chicago mayor weighing possible Bloomberg endorsement Judge Judy's verdict: Ignoring Bloomberg's record to endorse others made no sense MORE, who entered the primary contest only last month, has seen some early traction at the national level. He took the fifth-place spot in the Monmouth poll with 5 percent support, putting him narrowly ahead of rivals who have been campaigning for months like Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa MORE (D-Minn.), who finished in sixth place with 4 percent support. 

That early success may be due in part to Bloomberg’s aggressive approach to paid media.

The billionaire businessman, who has said he has no plans to compete in the first four primary and caucus states, has already spent tens of millions of dollars of his personal fortune on national advertising campaigns, helping him drive name recognition after a late entrance into the presidential race.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Monmouth poll also carries warning signs for Bloomberg. Only 40 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters surveyed reported a favorable opinion of the former New York City mayor, putting him behind Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangJohn Leguizamo joins the 'Yang Gang' CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Joe Rogan says he's probably voting for Bernie Sanders MORE on that front.

Among all registered voters surveyed, Bloomberg’s favorability is at a meager 26 percent, well behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE, who notched 46 percent favorability. That’s a shaky start for a candidate who was driven into the race by the belief that he was best positioned to defeat Trump in 2020.

“Bloomberg said he got into this race because he wants to defeat Trump, but his campaign kicks off with even lower ratings than the incumbent,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “That is not the most auspicious start, but views of Bloomberg are not as deeply held as they are for Trump, so he has room to shift those opinions.”

Still, there’s a sense among U.S. voters that it’s time for a change in the White House. The poll shows a slight majority of voters — 54 percent — want to elect a different president in 2020, while 43 percent believe Trump should be elected to a second term in the Oval Office.

Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters are also more motivated by the prospect of defeating Trump in 2020 than in electing a candidate they are ideologically aligned with, the poll found. Fifty-six percent said they would rather nominate a candidate they do not agree with but would perform well in a matchup against Trump than choose someone that shares their values but would have a tough time beating the incumbent.

ADVERTISEMENT

Among those who prioritize electability in the Democratic nominating contest, 31 percent support Biden, according to the Monmouth poll. Warren and Sanders are statistically tied on that front, coming in at 18 percent and 17 percent, while only 8 percent chose Buttigieg.

Sanders has the most support among Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters who see issue alignment as more important, with 33 percent. Biden and Warren are tied among those voters with 15 percent each. Buttigieg carried 12 percent of respondents who prioritized issue alignment over electability, the Monmouth poll found.

The Monmouth University poll surveyed 838 registered voters, including 384 registered Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters, from Dec. 4 to 8. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points for the full sample and 5 points for the sample of Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents.