Elizabeth Warren Surging Ahead of First Presidential Debate

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren gestures as she speaks during a campaign stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia on May 16, 2019. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is surging ahead of the Democrat’s first presidential primary debate.

Two polls released on Sunday confirm Warren has momentum going into the first 2020 Democrat debate, scheduled for June 26 and June 27. The news comes after a week of polls showing Warren jumping over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) into second place behind the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

A CBS News survey of the 18 states that make up the primary calendar through Super Tuesday, including the early contests of Iowa and New Hampshire, shows Warren in second place behind the Democrat frontrunner, Joe Biden.

When respondents were asked which candidates they were considering supporting — and given the option of choosing more than one — Biden took a majority with 55 percent. Warren was not far behind with 49 percent, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 45 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 43 percent.

The second place showing seems to indicate Warren is viewed as an overall more acceptable nominee if Biden falters.

When respondents were asked which candidate they would vote for if their state’s primary or caucus was held today, Biden led by 31 percent. Warren at 17 percent narrowly edged out Sanders, who was at 16 percent. Harris trailed in fourth place with ten percent.

CBS also translated each candidate’s preference with voters into convention delegates. Unsurprisingly, Biden led with 733 delegates to Warren’s 355 and Sanders’ 317. Although Biden led in the hypothetical delegate count, no candidate comes close to the 1,885 threshold that would be required for the nomination.

The results were obtained by YouGov after surveying 16,624 registered voters between May 31 through June 12. YouGov included respondents from the 18 states currently scheduled to hold primaries and caucuses in 2020. The sample size took account for “gender, age, race, and education” based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the 2016 presidential election.

The CBS survey mirrors a poll released this week by The Economist and YouGov showing that Warren has overtaken Sanders nationally for second place behind Biden.

Warren’s momentum is only underscored by new numbers out of South Carolina. A poll released by Change Research and The Post and Courier on Sunday indicates Warren has slid firmly into second place in the Palmetto State. Change Research found Biden leading the field with 37 percent, Warren in second place with 17 percent, and Pete Buttigieg in third at 11 percent. Harris and Sanders tied for fourth place with nine percent each.

The poll, conducted between June 11 through June 14 by surveying 2,312 registered voters, has a margin or error of  +/- 2 percent.

The results bode well for Warren but less so for Biden and Sanders. Both men dropped significantly — Biden by nine points and Sanders by six — among South Carolina voters since Change Research’s similar poll conducted in May. Warren, meanwhile, rose nine points from fourth place since last month.

South Carolina, which has its primary directly before Super Tuesday, is considered a bellwether in the race for the Democrat nomination. Carrying the state and its large black American population signals that a candidate has strength among a core constituency of the Democrat Party — a lesson Sanders learned all too well in 2016 when he lost the state’s primary by more than 47 percentage points and faced calls to exit the race.

The Change Research poll shows Biden leading among South Carolina’s black voters by a hefty margin of 52 percent. Surprisingly, though, Warren was ranked second place, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Buttigieg, among the important demographic. Sanders, who has sunk time and resources into courting South Carolina’s black community to avenge his 2016 performance, was in fifth place narrowly ahead of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Among white voters, Biden’s lead in South Carolina is much narrower. The former vice president (28 percent) leads Warren (20 percent) by single digits, with Buttigieg (17 percent) and Sanders (11 percent) following behind.

Other polls released in the last week also show Warren surging into second place behind Biden in early caucus states like Nevada and delegate-rich Super Tuesday battlegrounds like California.

On the campaign trail, Warren has attempted to downplay her campaign’s surging momentum.

“It’s way too early to talk about polls,” Warren told reporters after an event on Saturday in Charleston, South Carolina. “What are we, eight months away from the first caucuses and primary elections?”

“I’m out there doing what I believe in,” she added. “I get a chance to talk about what’s broken in America, how we can fix it, and build a grassroots movement to get that done. And I get to do it every day.”

Not only is Warren rising in the polls, but her campaign is also garnering increased media attention. An analysis by FiveThirtyEight shows the number of times Warren has been mentioned on CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC has grown exponentially. Starting in the last week of May, Warren has overtaken Sanders as the second most mentioned candidate. Warren held the title, despite a small decrease, during the first week of June.

Throughout the same time period, Biden continued to dominate the cable networks. Since jumping into the race in April, the former vice president has received more mentions than all of the other 2020 Democrats combined. The extensive coverage, however, has not always been positive.

Although Biden garnered the most media mentions in the first week of June, the coverage was heavily colored by his flip-flop on the Hyde Amendment and revelations that his campaign reportedly plagiarized portions of its plan to tackle climate change.

In comparison, most of Warren’s coverage has centered around her ever-expanding list of detailed policy proposals. One such proposal, which was noted for its similarity to President Donald Trump’s economic nationalism, seems to have coincided directly with Warren’s rise.

It is unclear if Warren will continue surging after the first primary debate.

Unlike other candidates polling near the frontrunner, Warren will not be on the same debate stage as Biden. Instead, due to a random drawing, Warren will be debating candidates averaging less than four percent in the polls — former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) — and those registering around or below one percent — Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA).

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