87 Percent of Subscribers Now Favor One of the Women Candidates to Become the 2020 Democratic Nominee
By Al Giordano
Back in the straw poll we had in February, 45 percent of our subscribers favored Kamala Harris, 17 percent were for Elizabeth Warren, 15 percent had no preference, 8 percent were for Amy Klobuchar, 5 percent were for Beto O’Rourke, and three percent were for Kirsten Gillibrand with nobody else over two percent. That early in the process, 73 percent wanted one of the women candidates as nominee.
In May, after Harris had been perceived as a frontrunner for a spell – and therefore had become a target – then Sanders and Biden got in and Harris’ campaign wasn’t quite as well-oiled yet as it seems to be today, and Elizabeth Warren gained steam as “the woman with a plan,” Harris and Warren flipped places in our May straw poll.
That one went Warren 44 percent, Harris 27 percent, No Preference 9 percent, O’Rourke, Biden & Buttigieg combined to get 14 percent and anyone else was at 2 percent or less.
A similar 74 percent favored a woman as nominee, but there was considerable movement as to which woman, responding, my sense is, to the one who at each moment was perceived to have the best chance to win the nomination. (Maybe the real “electability” contest is emerging as between Harris and Warren and the discussion will be between the considerable bloc of Democratic primary voters who want a woman as nominee.)
That was a very valuable piece of information those two straw poll results showed: the fluidity and solidarity among voters that want a woman as nominee and are remaining flexible about which one to better make it so. (I think that’s why the Annie Liebowitz photos this week in Vogue of five women presidential candidates together and seeming to like and respect each other got such powerful public response on social media.)
In the straw poll we held between Friday, June 29 and Tuesday July 2, the number of subscribers who want a woman as nominee has risen to from 74 to 87 percent! And the bottom has fallen out from the little support that the male candidates had registered so far. That’s a really interesting shift and I believe it is because perceptions are changing quickly, based on the debate performances, of which candidates are “electable” and can defeat Donald Trump. Surprise, surprise, it’s the two that are doing the best job as candidates.
And again, within that number, the Harris to Warren flow has flipped back to Kamala, who has been riding a great free media cycle since the second debate night and continues to dominate it today.
Today’s straw poll results have Harris with 50 percent (+23 from May), Warren with 34 percent (-10), No Preference with 6 percent (-3), Biden with 3 percent (-3), O’Rourke with 3 percent (-2), Gillibrand holding at 2 percent and Sanders, Buttigieg (-2), Castro and Klobuchar each at one percent.
Half of the combined 14 points that Biden, O’Rourke and Buttigieg cumulatively had in May among subscribers have bolted to one of the two leading women, and so has one third of the undecided vote.
National polls have been showing similar trend lines among the wider electorate this week.
So did a USA Today/Suffolk poll in Iowa, where Bernie Sanders in the state where he won 49 percent of the votes in 2016 is now buried at a pathetic 9 percent. And he’s the second choice of only six percent, for a combined potential of only 15 percent (that won’t be spread evenly in every precinct, so unless Sanders can find a way up out of his deepening hole he could be in danger of not qualifying for any delegates in half of Iowa, and getting only scraps of them in the other half, maybe not enough to get any national convention delegates out of the subsequent state convention). In any case that poor a showing would doom his chances in the next-up New Hampshire primary and that would be it for his campaign.
At the same time in Iowa if you combine the first plus second choice results the first-tier candidates are in a three-way scrum: Biden with 35% of first plus second choice, Harris with 33 percent and Warren with 29 percent (and Warren would likely benefit the most from a total collapse of Sanders in the Hawkeye State, which is now looking like a real possibility). Sanders’ troubles make Iowa a much more hotly contested battlefield going forward.
More good news for Harris is a national Quinnipiac poll has her in a statistical dead heat with Biden for African-American voters, and a Univision poll now has her leading among Hispanic voters. (Iowa voters are overwhelmingly white and if Harris does well there she’ll get an Obama style bounce among black voters in South Carolina).
We may be on the verge of entering a three-way race with Joe Biden as the third wheel, but, also, he’s the one which just hit a nail. Of the three frontrunners, Biden is now the most vulnerable of falling down so far that he might not be able to get up again. (An opposite dynamic to the aforementioned “Obama effect” from 2008 could happen to Joe: If he loses black support then white voters may abandon him for Harris or Warren, or both.)
“It’s still early” is a familiar cliche at this stage of the cycle but maybe it’s later than we thought. When 18 million people watched the second night’s debate – more than have ever watched any Democratic presidential debate in history, even once the primaries were underway – we can’t discount the possibility that this contest and its top tier could solidify much earlier than anticipated.
Also, to watch: What if Biden evaporates, poof, like a steam cloud under the duress of the campaign? He sure didn’t seem ready for even just a little heat from Harris the other night on stage.
Where would Joe’s remaining voters go? To one or both of Harris and Warren? Would they favor one more than the other? Or would somebody else ride in and fill that lane? That’s something that is worth gaming out going forward. And yet I don’t yet see anyone in this field or outside of it that could ride in that fast and seize the moment from these two extremely skillful women.
Are you following me? Suddenly what was unthinkable last week is possible today: We might be heading toward a two-woman race for the Democratic nomination. Voters do like to boil it down to two and then watch them compete.
Take a moment and breathe that in.
That combo might also end up being the entire ticket: POTUS and VP, in either order could work.
Did anybody else on those two stages seem quite as ready as Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris first to take on Trump and win and next to govern the most powerful country on earth? Maybe someone else will show that to us still – I like and respect most of this crop of candidates, they’re great at what they do, worthy parts of the coalition and of hearing them out some more before the voting starts – but in these first debates I didn’t observe any of the others even close to how these two pros handled themselves under pressure.
In a word, Harris and Warren were presidential. And public opinion seems to have noticed that too.
(This is an updated excerpt from Issue #83 of the Al Giordano’s América newsletter which went out to subscribers last night shortly after voting ended on the Organize & Win Post-Debate Straw Poll. Subscribers vote on straw polls, comment backstage on these posts, join debate watch parties and enjoy full access to all the content here. We’re building a platform that covers the 2020 elections free of the trolls and negativity that plague almost every other corner online, a meeting place for the grassroots volunteers, small donors and political organizers from the diverse moving pieces of a winning electoral coalition who regularly decide the Democratic nomination for president. Subscriptions – along with backstage passes to Organize & Win – go to donors of $70 to the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism. We look forward to you taking a seat at this table with us.)
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