September Straw Poll Results: The Debate Changed Nothing

September 17, 2019

Warren Remains on Top, Harris Holds Steady as #2, Slight Uptick for O’Rourke

Yesterday the Sanders Campaign Suffered Its Worst Day Yet – and the Press Has Taken Notice

By Al Giordano

Turnout was up from our August Democratic Nomination Straw Poll (that’s because the base of subscribers continues to grow – welcome aboard to all who have recently joined us) but there was little change in preferences since the last post-debate survey.

Elizabeth Warren remains with a commanding lead among the grassroots volunteers, small donors, community organizers and political opinion leaders that make up our subscriber base and represent so well the ground-level campaigners of the diverse sectors of the Democratic coalition: The people who do the work that wins nominations.

This month Warren received 47 percent of the votes from our logged-in subscribers (she had 48 percent in August). Kamala Harris is at 27 percent, the same as she enjoyed in August (her supporters haven’t budged despite media-generated headwinds). Joe Biden won seven percent of the votes (compared to 8 percent last month) while Beto O’Rourke has ticked up from 5 percent in August to 8 percent after last Thursday’s all-on-one-stage Democratic debate. Cory Booker ticked up slightly (from one to three percent) and everyone else on the debate stage remains at one percent except for Andrew Yang, who received no votes in our survey.

These straw poll results follow yesterday, which brought bad news on multiple fronts for the 2020 presidential aspirations of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders:

  • The Sanders campaign removed its state campaign director from New Hampshire and brought new staff into his “must win” early primary state for 2020. In 2016 Sanders had won 60 percent of the vote in the Granite State primary. But today, in the aggregate of polls, Sanders only retains about one-third of his previous support, with a polling average of 22.3 percent in a virtual three-way tie with Joe Biden (23.7 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (21.7 percent). Prior to mid-June, Warren had been polling in New Hampshire at eight percent or less but over the last three months has vaulted her way into the top tier, largely due to a superior New Hampshire field organization. With only 150 days before the first-in-the-nation primary vote, the Sanders campaign scrambles to get its act together there. But is it already too late?
  • The Working Families Party (WFP), active in 15 states and influential in New York state politics, founded two decades ago by labor and other progressive organizations, and which had endorsed Sanders in 2016, yesterday announced its endorsement of Elizabeth Warren for president in 2020. In 2016, Sanders said that the WFP “is the closest thing there is to a political party that believes in my vision of democratic socialism. The WFP shares my view of a society and an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.” But as of yesterday, the WFP joined the ranks of everyone else denounced as “neoliberal” and such by the Sanders cohort on social media and house media organs. The organization’s endorsement vote resulted in 60 percent for Warren and 35 percent for Sanders.
  • Warren received that endorsement during a rally yesterday in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park that drew more than 20,000 (she stayed behind for four hours to accommodate the serpentine “selfie line” that is now part and parcel of her events). It was in that same Greenwich Village park in 2016 that Sanders gathered a similar-sized crowd in the week prior to the New York Primary. Don’t read too much into Warren’s crowd numbers: Sanders enjoyed them, too, in 2016 and went on to lose New York City and the state anyway by a whopping margin, especially in black, Hispanic, Asian American and integrated neighborhoods, and Warren’s crowd looked almost as white as Sanders’ did in 2016. (I wonder what percentage of those present had completed the trifecta of “Occupy Wall Street” in 2011, the 2016 Sanders rally and yesterday’s Warren event: those previously 30-something “occupy kids” are mostly in their 40s now, many the wiser for it.) This development does show how deeply Warren has begun to encroach upon Sanders’ former base (atop her own base, which demographically skews more gender-balanced and college-educated), likely to speed his descent. And the Warren campaign has shown itself to be far more cognizant of its need to attract from all the demographic sectors of the diverse Democratic coalition than Sanders’ campaign seemed capable of then or now.
  • An internal dispute within another Sanders-endorsing organization, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), surfaced to light with a report that the Iowa DSA chapter has chosen to remain neutral in the upcoming presidential caucuses. It will focus on tenants’ rights organizing instead. Given the 2016 Sanders campaign’s role in growing DSA from 5,000 to 50,000 dues-paying members, the snubbing of Sanders’ 2020 campaign by such a geographically important local is indicative. This led to social media attacks on the Iowa chapter by the same sorts who have also been attacking the WFP since yesterday. This kind of “falling in and out of love” with leaders is par for the course in activist politics – I’ve seen it repeat so many times in so many organizations over the past four decades – and usually morphs rapidly at this stage from snubbing to rejection then to turning on their former heroes. If you’ve seen this movie before, you know already how the story will eventually go.
  • Prominent Sanders surrogate Linda Sarsour was one of three Women’s March founding board members that the group disavowed and cut ties with yesterday, saying that they’d been dismissed for anti-Semitic statements. The controversy of their continued presence in the organization caused much lower turnout in the January 2019 Women’s March on Washington than the event had enjoyed in previous years. This development came only days after Sanders’ official Twitter account shared a video of a speech by Sarsour in which she was identified as a “2020 Bernie Surrogate.” Timing is everything in politics, and the Sanders campaign seems to be on the wrong end of every clock these days.

All of that happened on September 16, 2019 and what a difference a day makes. These developments should not have been unexpected by our subscribers – we’ve been beating the drum showing how this scenario was likely from the start – but it’s always good to see real life confirm expectations and I wanted to share these details with you while they are still fresh.

There will be another set of debates in October and we’ll host another straw poll after that to see if the Democratic coalition’s preferences have changed after that.

Thanks to all who voted in the September straw poll. Last night marks 20 weeks until the Iowa caucuses. Events are going to increase in velocity going forward. And we’ll be here at Organize & Win reporting it all as it happens. To subscribe and be able to vote in the next straw polls, to comment backstage and to enjoy full access to all the content and features here, click the link below to donate and register. And welcome!

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