Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field of 2020 Democrats in every early state, according to a series of new polls.
Biden, who has been engulfed in controversy for praising segregationists and suffered a poor debate performance in which he struggled to defend his opposition to busing, still leads the field in a number of early and delegate-rich primary states as evidenced by a string polls released by CBS News and YouGov on Sunday.
In Iowa, the first caucus state, Biden takes 24 percent when polled against the rest of the field. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) came in second place with 19 percent. Trailing behind were Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 17 and 16 percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg lodges in fifth place with seven percent. Surprisingly, the poll found Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), one of the lesser-known but more moderate candidates, beating out more high-profile candidates, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), with four percent support.
Biden likewise tops his fellow White House hopefuls in New Hampshire, the first in the nation primary state. Polling shows the former vice president pulling in 27 percent support compared to only 20 percent for Sanders, who won the state’s primary in 2016 by double digits. Close on the runnerup’s heals was Warren with 18 percent, followed by Harris at 12 percent. Lagging behind in fifth place was Buttigieg at five percent. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) were the only other competitors to rise above one percent, yet they still fell bellow the three percent garnered by the poll’s “someone else” category.
On top of the strong showing in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden holds his biggest lead in South Carolina. The former vice president outpaces his closest competitor, Sanders, by 39 percent to 17 percent. In third was a tie between Warren and Harris, who both polled at 12 percent. Failing to make it out of the single digits, but above one percent, were Buttigieg (five percent), Booker (two pecent), and O’Rourke (two percent).
Biden’s substantial position in South Carolina is on par with a number of polls from last week showing the former vice president dominating the competition throughout the South.
The frontrunner also holds a small lead in California, which has moved its primary date to Super Tuesday. The act ensured that California’s 416 convention delegates will be the biggest prize up for grabs in the days after the first four contests. Although the delegates will be dolled out proportionally based on the primary results, California could tip the balance in favor of a candidate, especially in a close race between multiple contenders.
CBS and YouGov show Biden leading the field in California with 24 percent, followed closely behind — and within the margin of error — by the state’s junior senator, Harris, with 23 percent. Coming in third was Warren at 19 percent, trailed by Sanders with 16 percent. Buttigieg rounded out fifth place with six percent among voters.
Meanwhile, in another delegate-rich state, Texas, Biden held a double digit advantage over his nearest competitor with 27 percent support. O’Rourke, who came within a three points of ousting Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the state last year, polled second at 17 percent. The former congressman, however, barely edged out Warren for the designation, who garnered 16 percent. Tied for third place were both Sanders and Harris with 12 percent, respectively. Another Texan, former housing secretary Julian Castro, also faired poorly in comparison to out of state rivals, tying with Buttigieg at four percent.
The polls were conducted between July 9 through July 118 by surveying a different proportion of registered Democrats — Iowa (706 voters), New Hampshire (530 voters), South Carolina (997 voters), California (1,514 voters), and Texas (910 voters) — in each of the jurisdictions.
Since the polls differed in respondent size in order to have a fair representation of the states, each had a unique margin of error. In Iowa the margin of error of was +/- 4.4 percentage points, +/- 5 percentage points in New Hampshire, and +/- 3.8 in South Carolina. For California the margin of error was +/- 2.9 percentage points, while in Texas it was +/- 4.2 percent.
The results come at a time when Biden is under siege on all fronts. Since June, the former vice president has struggled to overcome praising the “civility” of two segregationist Democrats, the late Sens. James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA). Biden invoked the two men, who dedicated their careers to halting the progress of civil rights, at a fundraiser in New York City last month while touting his ability to forge “consensus” in Congress.
Despite Biden’s poor response to public backlash against his comments, at one point even saying if anyone was owed an apology it was himself, the controversy appeared to die down until the first Democrat presidential debate. At the event, Harris reignited the controversy by confronting the former vice president for his remarks and expanding them to encompass his record against busing to desegregate public schools.
“It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing,” Harris said at the debate. “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day. That little girl was me. So I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate. … We have to take it seriously.”
The rebuke left the frontrunner and his team reeling to respond — something they have still not done properly, according to civil rights leaders like Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Apart from busing and civil rights, the former vice president has also faced criticism for opposing Medicare for All, which a majority of his competitors for the Democrat nomination have endorsed. Just last week, Sanders accused Biden of parroting Republican talking points to stir up fear and opposition to the universal healthcare proposal.