BREAKING: New early state Democratic primary voter survey results

May 5, 2019

Key Findings:

  • The Biden Surge: We asked Democratic primary voters who they favored among the eight highest-profile Democrats who have already announced their candidacies. According to our survey, former Vice President Joe Biden has boosted his early lead in all three states. Biden’s best state is South Carolina, where he has 48% support (36% in February), followed by IA with 35% (25% in February), and New Hampshire at 34% (22% in February). This represents a double-digit boost in all three states over the past three months. After Biden, we find Bernie Sanders in second in all three states, in the low double-digits. Pete Buttigieg, who was not included in our first round, finished third in all three states with support ranging from 5% in South Carolina to 11% in Iowa. Elizabeth Warren comes in fourth, right behind Buttigieg in all three states, and has not changed in standing since February. Kamala Harris, on the other hand, had a steep drop since February, and now comes in fifth place. As with our earlier survey, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker failed to break 5% in any of the three states.
  • The following table displays our results, as well as the change for each candidate since our February poll. Pete Buttigieg was not singled out in our February poll, and therefore has no change associated.
  • When asked if Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas sexual harassment scandal makes them more likely, less likely, or does not affect their likelihood to support Biden, at least 70% of voters across all three states say it does not affect their views of him.
    • KEY POINT: Biden has clearly gained support since officially declaring. Buttigieg has gained significant support, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire, while Harris has fallen behind. Additionally, Sanders has moderately improved his standing since February.
  • The Vast Field and Candidate Preferences: When asked if they were satisfied with the current field of declared candidates in the Democratic Presidential Primary, the vast majority said they were satisfied with the current field and were not looking for any new candidate. When asked to choose between the candidate that most closely represents their views and the candidate they feel is most likely to defeat Trump, voters in all three states say they prefer a candidate that is best able to beat Trump by a close to 2-to-1 margin. Compared to February, voters in Iowa and South Carolina have shifted towards electability by 15 and 9 net percentage points, respectively.
    • KEY POINT: A large majority of Democratic voters are not looking for any more new candidates to jump in the race and they tend to prefer electability to ideological rigor.
  • Impeach Trump? After the release of the Mueller Report and the media environment surrounding it, Democratic voters are much more divided over the potential impeachment of Donald Trump. While the majority of voters in SC (60%) and IA (52%) believe that the House of Representative should impeach Donald Trump, voters in NH are evenly split at 45%. These numbers represent a notable dip compared to earlier poll

  • The Electoral College and SCOTUS as Partisan Issues: When asked if they would be in favor of the abolishing the Electoral College in favor of a system that elects presidents based on national popular vote, just under a two third of voters across all three states said they were in favor of abolishing the Electoral College. When they were asked about the possibility of Congressional Democrats adding two more seats to the Supreme Court if a Democrat wins back the White House in 2020, a slight plurality of voters in IA (43%) and NH (46%) and a majority in SC (54%) said they are in favor of doing so.
    • KEY POINT: After three years of Donald Trump disregarding norms and institutions, Democratic voters seem to be willing to do the same for their interests.
  • Medicare-for-All remains very popular: Universal healthcare was one of the popular issues among Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. We asked likely Democratic voters if they want their nominee to support Medicare-for-All, and at least two-thirds of voters across all three states said they want their nominee to support it. We found an average increase in support for Medicare-for-All of 5% in each state since February.



Methodology: Between 04/30-05/02, we surveyed 1,695 likely primary voters in Iowa (N = 576), New Hampshire (N = 551), and South Carolina (N = 568) via live landline and cell, and text. Likely voters were defined as registered voters having voted in the 2016 or 2018 Democratic primaries, plus the 15% of additional individuals most likely to turnout based on in-house turnout modeling. Margin of error varies by question and segment but is generally ± 4.1 in IA, ± 4.0 in NH, and ± 4.5 in SC for toplines. Sample was weighted by age, gender, and party based on our likely voter universe. Results were then re-balanced based on these cohorts.