ABC News/Washington Post Poll On Democratic Debate: “Harris Scores in Debate Performance While Electability Keeps Biden in Front”

On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, ABC NEWS and the WASHINGTON POST released a poll conducted after the two 2020 Presidential Democratic debates. The poll is an in-depth analysis of how the Democratic candidates did during the debate and the type of bump their performances helped with their candidacies.

Quoting the poll analysis: “[The] ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone June 28-July 1, 2019, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,008 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 5.5 points, including the design effect, for the sample of 460 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents covered in this report. Partisan divisions in the full sample are 29-23-37 percent, Democrats-Republicans independents. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling and data collection by Abt Associates of Rockville, Md.”

You can review the entire report analysis entitled “Harris Scores in Debate Performance While Electability Keeps Biden in Front” with the bar graphs, percentage numbers and polling tabulations at the blow link:

Following is the written poll analysis of the ABC News/Washington Post written in full by Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates with the bar graphs and numbers edited out of the written analysis:

“A wide advantage in perceived electability boosts Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he lags in having new ideas, is challenged by Bernie Sanders and faces a debate-energized Kamala Harris in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll. In current preferences, 29 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support Biden and 23 percent favor Sanders, with 11 percent apiece for Harris and Elizabeth Warren. The number of undecided potential voters has dropped sharply after the first debates, with gains in support for each of these candidates. Others are in the low single digits, at best.

Given the time to register to vote in advance of the caucus and primary season, these results are among all leaned Democrats. Among those who are registered now, Biden goes to a 30-19 percent advantage over Sanders, with 13 percent for Harris and 12 percent for Warren. Crosscurrents underlie candidate preferences in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. A broad plurality, 45 percent, says Biden has the best chance to beat Donald Trump in the general election, but only 18 percent say he has new ideas, trailing Sanders, Warren and Harris alike. At the same time, 41 percent say Harris stood out in her debate performance, easily the leader in this gauge, a wide 15 to 22 percentage points ahead of Biden, Sanders and Warren. And among those who actually watched both Democratic debates last week, the number picking Harris as a standout performer soars to 72 percent, well above any of her competitors.

An impact is apparent: Among the half of leaned Democrats who did not watch either of the two nights of debates, just 5 percent support Harris for the nomination. Among those who watched the debate in which she appeared, by contrast, her support swells to 20 percent. That places her numerically second among Thursday-night viewers; Biden has 28 percent support in this group; Warren, 17 percent; and Sanders, 15 percent. Warren also does better among viewers of her debate than non-viewers, 17 vs. 8 percent support. Showing strength among highly engaged leaned Democrats, she reaches 22 percent, virtually matching Biden’s 25 percent, among those who watched both debates. There’s no meaningful difference in Biden’s support across debate-watching groups, and Sanders gets the booby prize – higher support among those who did not watch the debates, 26 percent, vs. 15 percent among those who watched the debate in which he appeared and 10 percent among those who watched both nights. Comparative inattention fits with his younger support profile; 18- to 29-year-olds, his best group, are least likely to have tuned in.

These results are from a question in which respondents were read a list of Democratic candidates. Asking preferences in an open-ended format produces similar results (25-18-9-9 percent, Biden-Sanders-Harris-Warren), with gains for each in comparison with April – Biden +8 points, Sanders +7, and Harris and Warren both +5. Those with no opinion dropped sharply, 35 percent in April compared with 19 percent now (and 6 percent when the full list is read). In another measure, intended participation is high: Seventy-two percent of leaned Democrats say they’re certain to vote in their state’s primary or caucus. That’s up from 56 percent in November 2015, when it was first asked in the last cycle, a race that pitted just two prime candidates. Current results are similar to what they were in November 2007, the last crowded (albeit not this crowded) Democratic race.


Harris’ debate rating comes among those who actually tuned in. Respondents were asked which candidates stood out as having done an especially good job in the debates, with up to four names accepted. Among those who watched both nights, a vast 72 percent picked Harris for a standout performance. Fewer but 58 percent named Warren. Neither Biden nor Sanders, nor others, remotely approach these levels. (Pete Buttigieg comes closest, cited by 31 percent.)


Notably among groups, while Harris challenged Biden on the subject of race in their debate, his support is especially strong among blacks, 41 percent, 12 points higher than it is overall. Harris’ support, by contrast, is not differentiated by race and ethnicity – 11 percent among blacks and an identical 11 percent among all leaned Democrats. Warren, for her part, has notably low support among nonwhites, 5 percent. Biden’s support continues to skew older, Sanders’ younger: Among leaned Democrats age 50 and older, Biden leads Sanders by a broad 39-11 percent. Among those younger than 50, Biden’s support falls to 21 percent and Sanders’ rises to 32 percent. (There are no such age gaps in support for Warren or Harris.)

Among other group differences, Sanders’ support plummets among the most-educated group, while Warren’s rises with education. And by ideology, Warren does better with liberals compared with moderates. (Biden’s better number among moderates than liberals isn’t statistically significant.)

While the contest pits prominent Democratic women and men alike, there are no substantial differences in candidate choice on the basis of gender. Men divide 26-26-10-9 percent among Biden-Sanders-Harris-Warren; women, by a similar 30-21-12-13 percent.


Former Vice President Biden and 2016 candidate Sanders are, of course, the best-known figures in the Democratic race. While they’re in front, it’s striking that most Democrats and Democratic leaners are not entirely wedded to their current choices; just about a quarter, 26 percent, say it’s “extremely” important to them that their candidate wins the nomination. That includes about the same number just among Biden’s supporters, 29 percent.

Still, asking second-choice preferences finds another advantage for Biden: Among those who don’t support him now, 33 percent pick him as their next-choice candidate. By comparison, among those who don’t currently favor Sanders he’s second choice for 24 percent. Warren is second choice for 17 percent of those who don’t back her now, as is Harris for 16 percent.

That said, another Biden advantage – being seen as the candidate best able to defeat Trump – is unlikely to be all it will take for Biden to prevail. It’s notable that, among those who pick Biden on this measure, 45 percent nonetheless support another Democratic candidate.


Health care is the top-rated issue for Democrats and Democratic leaners, and they side heavily with a so-called Medicare-for-all system, a central topic of the debates. Seventy-seven percent of leaned Democrats support a government-run, taxpayer-funded universal health care system like Medicare, essentially the same as in an ABC/Post poll back in 2003. Support remains high, 66 percent, even if it meant doing away with private insurance. Health care, moreover, is cited by 89 percent of leaned Democrats as a top issue in their vote in the general election, leading a list of nine items.

Eighty-five to 79 percent cite gun violence, issues of special concern to women, immigration, global warming and the economy as highly important, followed by foreign policy, 72 percent; abortion, 69 percent; and taxes, 60 percent. Preference in handling two of these issues is generally similar to candidate support overall.

On health care, 27 percent of leaned Democrats pick Sanders as the candidate they trust most and 25 percent pick Biden, followed by 13 percent for Warren and 7 percent for Harris. On immigration, another focus of the debate, 21 percent pick Biden; 17 percent, Sanders; 12 percent, Harris; and 8 percent Warren, with an additional 8 percent favoring Julián Castro.

Viewed another way, Biden and Sanders are essentially tied among leaned Democrats who focus on any of five top issues – health care, issues of special concern to women, immigration, global warming and the economy. One remaining item differentiates them – gun violence, on which Biden has a 10-point advantage. Warren and Harris compete for third position on all these.

While most issue preferences don’t sharply differentiate candidate choices, there are some differences in issue emphasis among groups. The economy, for example, is rated as highly important by 85 percent of those without a college degree vs. 67 percent of college graduates, and by 84 percent of those with less than $50,000 in annual household incomes vs. 70 percent of those in the $100,000-plus bracket.


Some gender gaps also emerge. Democratic and leaned-Democratic women are 12 points more apt than men to cite health care as highly important, 95 percent vs. 83 percent. Women are 17 points more likely than men to cite taxes as a major issue, 69 vs. 52 percent. And in the widest gap, women are 23 points more likely to call abortion a top issue, 79 vs. 56 percent.”


Based on the ABC NEWS and the WASHINGTON POST poll, former Vice President Joe Biden did not do as well as was expected and California Senator Kamala Harris has closed the gap on him. Sanders is dropping and Warren is also closing the gap. No doubt Biden will be finding that henceforth, things are going to get tougher within his own party to win the nomination.

Notwithstanding, polls are nothing more than a snapshot of public opinion at the time, and one excellent debate performance or one poor debate performance does not win a nomination, especially in a crowded field.

The next Democrat debate will have fewer on stage in that many will not secure an onstage debate spot if they do not have a certain percentage of support in the polls and have not raised campaign money from a certain number of donors. You can anticipate more break out performances, even from Joe Biden at the next debate.

It’s going to be a very long primary year. Ultimately the Democratic party need to get behind the most electable candidate no matter who it is, otherwise Trump will be elected a second term.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.