Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had to contact Joe Biden at the top of the Democratic presidential field an affair that suggests the three are solidifying their top-tier status in a massive field.
A Monmouth University poll released on Monday shows Sanders and Warren deadlocked by 20 percent with Democratic voters, with 19 percent behind. No other candidate breaks double digits: Kamala Harris is fourth with 8 percent.
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Compared to the poll he conducted in Monmouth in June, Sanders reported 6 points and Warren reported 5 points. Biden was down 13 points from 32% in June.
The poll shows that Biden is slipping away from the Democratic electorate rather than from a specific demographic or ideological group. He has 14 points among white and white voters. It has 14 points for men and 13 for women. It ranks 15 points among voters under 50 and 9 percent among voters 50 and older.
Biden also slipped 18 points among Democrat voters who identified themselves as moderate or conservative, and 9 points among self-determined liberals.  "The main draw from this poll is that the democratic race has become unstable," says Patrick Murray, director of the Institute for Research at the University of Monmouth. "Liberal voters are starting to run for a candidate they can identify with. Moderate voters who pay less attention seem to have doubts about Biden. But they are targeting more of one of the left-wing candidates with a high name recognition, rather than a lesser-known candidate who may be in tune with them politically. "
The Monmouth Poll is the first major national poll all year to show a candidate other than Biden. It differs from some studies conducted during similar periods. A CNN / SSRS national poll conducted August 15-18 showed Biden 29 percent, well ahead of Sanders (15 percent) and Warren (14 percent).
Poll in Monmouth, conducted August 16-20, polled 298 Democratic voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.
After being the most popular candidate in the race, a poll in Monmouth shows a favorable downgrade of Biden, from 74 percent in June to 66 percent now. This is similar to favorable estimates for Warren (65 percent) and Sanders (64 percent).
But the percentage of Democrat voters who view Biden as unfavorable has increased from 17 percent in June to 25 percent now. Warren's unfavorable rating, 13 percent, is significantly lower, while Sanders faces Biden with a 24 percent unfavorable result.
Apart from the first three candidates – plus Harris in fourth place – no other candidate wins 5 percent support. Corey Booker and Pete Butigig are 4 percent each and entrepreneur Andrew Ian is 3 percent. .
The University of Monmouth questionnaire was approved by the Democratic National Committee to decide which candidate to hold a primary debate. But that poll does not help practically candidates who did not qualify for the third debate next month in Houston before Wednesday's deadline.
Applicants must earn at least 2 percent in four DNC-approved polls published between June 28 and Wednesday, and receive donations from 130,000 people over the course of the campaign. Ten candidates have already qualified: Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Butigigig, Booker, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Castro, Jan, and Rourke.
Tom Steyer's campaign says he has received donations from more than 130,000 people, but he is one poll that has earned just 2 percent in three DNC approved surveys. Monday's poll in Monmouth showed him 0%.
Tulsi Gabbard also complied with the donor threshold, but she is still two polls shy of the voting threshold after winning 1% in the Monmouth poll. Williamson also dropped the donor rating, but her 2 percent in the Monmouth poll was only her first qualifying poll – and it's unlikely she would receive three more polls in the next two and a half days.