Joe Biden had the most to lose heading into the first Democratic presidential debate, and he took a significant hit. However, he’s already begun to rebound, and no one else is getting much closer either. A report out from Morning Consult’s tracking poll shows the former VP still getting nearly a third of all support from Democratic primary voters, 32%.
Here’s their graph over time with all candidates listed:
In this series, Biden lost almost all of his post-announcement bump after the debate. That’s still not putting him in any real danger of losing the lead, as he’s more than ten points up on Bernie Sanders, who has barely budged since Biden got in the race. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren benefited from strong debate performances, but their modest gains still put them nearly 20 points behind Biden and still trailing Sanders. At best, the race is looking as though it has developed three tiers, with Biden in a league of his own.
Of course, this is just one poll series. What about other national polling? The RCP average tracking graph shows a very similar picture — with the main difference being bad news for Bernie:
In this aggregation, Biden appears to have lost a little more ground with primary voters, dropping below his pre-announcement floor, but also seems to be rebounding. Fifteen points below, though, Harris and Warren have caught up with Bernie for a tie in second place. Warren’s numbers have been ramping up steadily since May, but Harris’ spiked after the debate, a clear signal to the field that attacking Biden on race will at least get you noticed.
Noticed may be all it gets, though. Harris’ numbers are already drooping slightly, and at best it looks like she plateaued after the debate. Warren seems to have more momentum, and it seems as though the debate isn’t the only thing fueling her rise. If anyone has the inside edge at being the Not-Biden at this point, Warren’s more organic gain makes her the most interesting candidate in that middle tier.
Let’s not kid ourselves, however. Biden’s still the person to beat, and taking a brief beating in the debate didn’t change that. Neither did the two rounds of the first debate do anything to lift any of the bottom-tier candidates out of the mire, which should give them reason to reconsider their 2020 plans soon … very soon.