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Biden holds two-to-one lead over Sanders in post-debate poll

The Hill logo The Hill 8/2/2019 Jonathan Easley
Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie: Biden holds two-to-one lead over Sanders in post-debate poll © UPI Photo Biden holds two-to-one lead over Sanders in post-debate poll

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 2-to-1 lead nationally over the next closest Democratic presidential contender after the second round of debates, according to the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll.

The new survey finds Biden with 34 percent support among Democrats, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at 17 percent.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is in third place with 9 percent support, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at 8 percent, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 4 percent, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke at 3 percent and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) at 2 percent.

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"Biden has been steady despite some rocky performances at the debates," said Mark Penn, co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll. "The Democratic voters are far more in sync with Biden's views than any of the other candidates running. He maintains his front-runner status."

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll of 585 registered Democratic voters was conducted between July 31 and Aug. 1. The first night of this week's Democratic debates took place on July 30 and the second night was July 31, so some of the respondents may not have viewed the second night of debate, when Biden appeared.

Biden's lead is down some from the previous survey conducted in late May, before the Democratic debates. At the time, the poll showed Biden holding a 30-point lead over Sanders and registering 44 percent support among Democrats.

But the former vice president remains in a strong position, with 46 percent of Democrats viewing him as having the best chance to defeat President Trump. Fifteen percent of Democrats said Sanders has the best shot at knocking off Trump, followed by Warren at 7 percent and Harris at 6 percent.

A plurality of Democrats, 47 percent, said they want to nominate a candidate with the strongest chance of winning. Only 12 percent said their first preference is a candidate who shares their positions, while 36 percent said they value both traits equally.

Biden also leads when voters are asked to name the top three candidates that best share their values, with 46 percent saying Biden, followed by Sanders at 34 percent, Warren at 27 and Harris at 24.

Health care is by far the top issue for Democratic voters, with 45 percent calling it their top priority, followed by immigration at 29 percent and jobs and the economy at 20 percent.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll throughout 2019.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

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