Former Vice President Joe Biden remains atop the Democrat field after the second presidenital debate, with support cratering for his most high-profile antagonist, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
A poll released by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday shows the frontrunner comfortably leading his nearest challenger nationally by double digits. Conducted between August 1 through August 5 by surveying 807 Democrats and independent voters from across the country, the poll is the first major survey taken after the candidates squared off at the second primary debate last week in Detroit, Michigan.
Biden, who has recently faced scrutiny over his record on busing to desegregate public schools and his family’s business dealings, garnered 32 percent support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) polled firmly in second place with 21 percent. Trailing all the way in third place was Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) at 14 percent, followed by Harris in fourth with seven percent.
The former vice president maintained a lead over his fellow competitors among every demographic. Biden dominated the field with black Democrats, garnering 47 percent to 16 percent for Sanders, with Warren at eight percent and Harris at one percent. Among women, Biden polled at 31 percent to 24 percent for Warren, with Sanders at ten percent and Harris at seven percent.
Similarly, Biden led with two of the biggest groups within his party’s base, moderate-to-conservative Democrats and those who identify as “somewhat liberal.” With moderate-to-conservatives, Biden garnered 43 percent support. Warren continued the trend of taking second place, but at a far distance with 11 percent. Sanders and Harris garnered nine percent and four percent, respectively.
Among “somewhat liberal Democrats,” Biden kept up his lead, but with a narrower margin. The former vice president received 28 percent support, with Warren trailing closely in second with 20 percent. Sanders took third place with 14 percent and Harris was in fourth with ten percent.
Warren, however, did lead the frontrunner among one demographic, “very liberal Democrats.” The Massachusetts senator, who has maintained her second place standing for months, despite not being able to face Biden at either of the first two debates, took a plurality of support with 40 percent. Sanders, on the other hand, barely edged out Biden for second place, 20 percent to 19 percent — appearing to confirm the self-described democratic socialist has been supplanted by Warren on the left. Rounding out fourth place once again was Harris with seven percent.
The poll brings bad news for Harris, who, in the lead up to the second deba, was recognized as Biden’s most vocal critic. Harris not only lambasted Biden for praising segregationist Democrats, but also for his longstanding opposition to busing to integrate public schools.
After trading barbs on the campaign trial for weeks, Harris was viewed as the candidate best positioned to gain if Biden faltered. A Quinnipiac poll released directly before the second debate showed Biden leading the field with 34 percent, Warren at 15 percent, and Harris closely in third at 12 percent.
Instead of bolstering Harris’s standing, the second debate seems to have the exact opposite effect. Throughout the two-hour event, Biden and Harris sparred and attacked each other relentlessly. Unlike the first debate, though, Biden was more prepared to ward off attacks on his nearly 40-year congressional career and even punched back with a few criticisms regarding Harris’s tenure as attorney general of California.
“When senator Harris was the attorney general for eight years in the state of California, there were two of the most segregated school districts in the country, in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” Bn said at one point during the debate. “And she did not — I didn’t see a single time she brought a case against them to desegregate them.”
Given her raised profile, the former vice president was not the only candidate gunning for Harris.
“Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor, and that she’ll be a prosecutor president, but I’m deeply concerned about this record,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said when criticizing the senator. “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
Harris, for her part, struggled to respond to the attacks, with many political observers going as far as to say the California Democrat botched her big opening. The debate’s impact on the primary race was best summedup by Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“Biden survives, Warren thrives and Harris dives as debate number two shakes up the primary,” Malloy said in a press release accompanying the poll on Tuesday.