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Biden, Warren, Sanders stay on top; health is already a problem for Sanders: POLL

Berne Sanders, Vermont Health creates concern for Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden predominates in elegance and strong leadership, and Massachusetts sister Elizabeth Warren is competitive in mental acuity and "needing change" can help shape their party's presidential contest.

These three continue to lead the current preference for the Democratic nomination, with 27% support for Biden, 21% for Warren and 19% for Sanders among Democrats and Independent Democrats, in a new ABC News / Washington Post poll.

South Bend, Mayor of India Pete Butigig outlines one blow down with 7% support, replacing California Senator Kamala Harris. It went from 1

1% in July to 7% in September and 2% in this survey prepared for ABC News by Langer Research Associates.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

This ranking reflects a new high for Warren in the ABC / Post studies; it had 11% support in July and 17% in September. Support for Biden and Sanders has been stable throughout the period, with no losses to either, but also to progress.

  PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Listened to a question during a question and answered part of her event at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH, October 30, 2019, [19659007] Cheryl Senter / AP, FILE </span>
</picture></div><figcaption><span class= Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Listened to a question and answer part of her campaign campaign at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH, 30 October 2019,

The results are quite similar among registered voters (and there is enough time to register) – Biden with 28% support a, Warren 23%, Sanders 17% and Butigig 9% (compared to 4% in September). Each of the 12 remaining candidates receives a maximum of 1% or 2% support.


The current rankings are not predictable; there is a lot of room for movement In fact, about half of the Democrats lean, 53%, either say they would consider another candidate (47%) or have no current preferences (6%).

Warren supporters are not strongly engaged; 65% say they would think of someone else. This compares with 43% of Biden's supporters and 50% of all other candidates' supporters together. (The sample size of Sanders supporters is too small to dig.)

Who can be their second choice? Biden's current supporters split mainly between Sanders (31%) and Warren (26%) as their reserve, with 8% for Harris and Minnesota. Amy Klobuchar's family and 7% for Butigig. Warren voters go more for Sanders (36%) than Biden (17%) as second choice, with 11% for Harris and Butigig and 6% for former Housing and Urban Development Minister Julian Castro.

Among all inclined Democrats who support anyone other than Biden or Warren, second-choice preferences split between Biden, 24%, and Warren, 23%, with everyone else in single digits.


In terms of the candidate's attributes, perhaps most seriously, given his October 1 heart attack, inclined Democrats split evenly, 48-45%, regardless of whether Sanders, 78, is in good shape as to serve as president in general. This is a stark contrast to Biden, 76, considered good enough by 74%, and Warren, 70, at 80% healthy.

  PHOTO: Democratic Presidential candidate Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, Iowa, October 31, 2019. Charlie Nebergal / AP, FILE
Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting in Fort Dodge, Iowa, October 31, 2019.

The younger adults, who are among Sanders' strongest supporters, are best placed to think he is in good enough health to serve – six 10 to 18 year olds to 39 year olds. Only 40% of those aged 40 and over agree.

Several other attributes distinguish candidates. Forty-two percent of inclined Democrats think Biden has the best chance of defeating Donald Trump in the general election over Warren, Sanders, Butigig and Harris. Seventeen percent choose Warren and 16% Sanders. Biden is also ahead of being considered the strongest leader in the group, 35-19-20%.

Thirty percent see Sanders as having the best understanding of the problems of people like them; 22% say Biden, 20% Warren. Sanders and Biden are on track to even be considered the most honest, 27-26%; 16% choose Warren on this attribute.

In terms of the most severe mental ability, 24% choose Warren, approximately as much as 21% choose Biden, 17% say Sanders, and 15% say Buttigig. And Biden, Warren, and Sanders are working very close to being closest to you on issues and most likely to make the necessary changes in Washington.

Support groups

There are also differences in the support profiles of applicants. Ideology is an example; Warren did the best with the Liberals with 31% support, compared with 18% among the moderates. Biden leads among the moderates.

Warren is weaker among the independents compared to his support from major Democrats, potentially a factor in open primers.

There are significant gender differences in support of Warren and Sanders; Warren's support almost doubles among women compared to men, while Sanders does the same among men compared to women. By race / ethnicity, Biden does the best job with black voters with 39% support, a group where Sanders remains rather weak.

  PHOTO: Democratic Presidential candidate 2020 and Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Addressing their supporters during a campaign rally in Concord, NC, October 31, 2019. Elizabeth Franz / Reuters, FILE
2020 Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Addresses his supporters during a campaign rally in Concord, NH, October 31, 2019.

Biden does best with the older padded Democrats, Sanders with the younger ones. And Warren does an excellent job with college graduates.

With the first Iowa vote in three months, there are innumerable ways to overcome these group and personal differences in attributes. All that is certain about primaries is that nothing is certain until the public is more fully tuned in, candidates do their jobs and voting begins.


This ABC News / Washington Post survey was conducted via landline and cellular telephone October 27-30, 2019 in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. The results have a margin of error of 5.5 points, including the project effect, for the sample of 452 Democrats and Independent Democrats covered in this report. The partisan divisions in the full sample are 29-23-38%, Democrats-Republicans-Independents.

The study was prepared for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, New York, with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md. See details of the survey methodology here.

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