Biden, Warren battling for top spot heading into Tuesday's 2020 Dem debate

A new national poll on the eve of the Democrats’ fourth-round presidential primary debate showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joe Biden locked in a close race for their party’s nomination.

Warren stood at 30 percent support in a Quinnipiac University survey Monday of Democratic voters and independents who leaned toward the party. Biden, the unrivaled front-runner until Warren’s surge in the polls the past couple of months, was at 27 percent.

Warren’s three percentage point advantage was within the survey’s margin of error.

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The poll was the third conducted by Quinnipiac since late last month showing Warren with a slight edge over Biden.

“For Senator Warren, the third straight time essentially tied at the top is the charm,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy emphasized. “Her candidacy clearly has staying power going into the debate.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont stood at 11 percent, with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 8 percent and Sen. Kamala Harris of California at 4 percent.

Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer each registered at 2 percent in the poll. The other candidates in the shrinking – but still large – field of contenders stood at 1 percent or less.

Quinnipiac’s survey differed from a Fox News poll released last week that indicated Biden at 32 percent, with Warren ten points back at 22 percent and Sanders at 17 percent. No other candidate cracked double digits in the Fox News survey.

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A look at the debate hall at Westerville, Ohio hours before the fourth round Democratic presidential primary debate, on Oct. 15,, 2019

A look at the debate hall at Westerville, Ohio hours before the fourth round Democratic presidential primary debate, on Oct. 15,, 2019

Twelve candidates qualified for Tuesday’s debate, which is set to be held at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. They are – in alphabetical order – Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Harris, Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sanders, Steyer, Warren and Yang.

While national primary horserace polls have grabbed plenty of attention, the battle for the nomination is a fight for the states and their delegates. And, a new poll in New Hampshire, the state holding the first presidential primary, indicated a three-way tie at the top.

Warren stood at 25 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters in the Granite State in a Boston Herald-Franklin Pierce University survey, with Biden at 24 percent and Sanders at 22 percent. Buttigieg stood at 9 percent and Harris at 5 percent, with no one else in the field topping 2 percent.

In New Hampshire’s Republican presidential contest, President Trump remained the overwhelming favorite against three extreme long-shot primary challengers, but his support has deteriorated from 88 percent a month ago to 71 percent in the survey. One of the primary challengers, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, saw his support jump from 3 percent in early September to 14 percent in the new survey.

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The Boston Herald-Franklin Pierce University poll was conducted Oct. 9-13, with 422 likely Democratic primary voters and 405 likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.8 percentage points for Democratic primary questions and plus or minus 4.9 percentage points for GOP primary questions.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted October 11-13, with 1,195 self-identified registered voters nationwide questioned by live telephone operators. The survey included 505 Democratic voters and independent voters leaning Democratic with a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points.