But can that advantage last? Once you move beyond that ballot test, Biden’s numbers get a lot worse. In the Economist poll, his favorable/unfavorable numbers are below water at 39-47, about the same as Trump. His numbers among Independents are worse than Trump with a favorable rating of just 28 percent against 47 percent unfavorable. Trump rates 41-48. Both Sanders and Warren have better overall favorability ratings at 41-46 for Sanders and 39-39 for Warren. Among independents, Sanders and Warren are also under water but do better than Biden. Sanders is down 35-44, while Harris is behind 29-40. Even so, Biden had a narrow lead over the field.
The big problem for Biden and all the Democrats is that it is looking increasingly likely that independent voters will decide the race. Self-identified Democrats are unified against Trump, while Republican voters are reflexively opposed to any Democrat. As a result, whichever Democrat gains the nomination has some catching up to do with independents.