WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., lead the Democratic presidential field, according to the national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll’s opening measure of the 2020 horse race.
Biden gets the support of 26 percent of voters who say they will participate in next year’s Democratic primaries or caucuses, while 19 percent back Warren.
They’re followed by Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who are tied at 13 percent.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg gets support from 7 percent of Democratic primary voters, and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and entrepreneur Andrew Yang are at 2 percent.
No other candidate gets more than 1 percent.
Biden performs best among African Americans, older Democrats and those who are moderate or conservative in their political views, while Warren runs strongest with self-described liberals and those ages 18 to 49.
Sanders also performs best among the youngest Democratic primary voters.
This NBC/WSJ poll was conducted July 7-9, after the first Democratic debates and the subsequent candidate skirmishes over the issues of race and health care.
New candidate Tom Steyer didn’t enter the race until July 9, and the survey didn’t test support for the billionaire activist.
The poll also asked Democratic primary voters about their second choice for president. The top responses were: Harris (14 percent), Warren (13 percent), Sanders (12 percent) and Biden (10 percent).
But importantly, only 12 percent of all Democratic primary voters said their mind is definitely made up, which suggests how malleable these numbers are.
“Every result looks so meaningful, so significant. And in truth, it is only July 2019,” cautioned Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.
“They are looking at lots of candidates,” McInturff said of these voters, “and they don’t need to make a choice right now.”
A tale of two different Democratic primaries
The poll also shows how the Democratic electorate is divided — between voters who want substantial change and those who want smaller change.
Fifty-four percent of Democratic primary voters say they prefer a nominee who proposes larger-scale policies that might cost more and be harder to pass — but could still result in ma