The morning after Thursday night’s big Democratic debate, to listen to the talking heads on CNN you’d think that Joe Biden was close to folding his tent and going home. He did terribly. Kamal Harris just owned him. He looked old. He was out of touch and insufficiently woke. He’s not in synch with today’s Democratic Party. So a performance like that should pretty well leave him on thin ice, right?
Well, if it’s going to happen, there’s not much sign of it in the latest Morning Consult poll taken after the debates. Joe might not be quite as strong as he was a couple of weeks ago and a couple of other candidates have shuffled places, but Biden is still holding a formidable lead.
In terms of who’s in the lead and by how much, there really hasn’t been a major shift. Joe Biden is still stubbornly staying in the lead with 33% (down from 38 on June 23rd) and Bernie Sanders remains in second at 19, right where he’s been since the beginning of May. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris are tied at 12% each and the only others above single digits. (This does show some significant movement for Harris, who’s support has doubled from six percent two weeks ago, so perhaps her attacks on Biden at the debate may have helped her, but not entirely at Joe’s expense.) The only other candidate rising measurably above the background noise level is Mayor Pete with six percent, nearly unchanged from the last survey. Everyone else is at or below three.
Morning Consult is still asking the “second choice” question which may provide a little more insight. Interestingly, Biden’s supporters take Sanders (32%), Harris (15%) or Warren (14%) as their second choice. Sanders’ backers follow a similar pattern, picking Biden, Warren, and Harris in that order. Warren’s supporters pick Harris, Sanders and Biden. More than half of Mayor Pete’s followers pick either Warren or Harris. In other words, at least for the moment, this seems to be boiling down to a five-person race rather than two dozen. The other 19 really aren’t registering in any measurable way.
The other sign that Uncle Joe may not have too much to worry about is in the name recognition and favorability category. Everybody knows Joe. His name recognition is 97% among Democrats and 71% view him favorably. Sanders isn’t far behind, with the same name recognition and 67% favorability.
We have to keep stressing that this thing is far from over and a large part of the country isn’t even paying attention yet. If that debate was the prime driver for Biden to slide five points down, he’ll definitely want to do some damage control before the next debates, but he’s still in pretty sweet shape for now.