Fox News Poll: Biden, Sanders top Democratic preference

So many Democrats are running for president the race feels like a March Madness bracket. If it were, the No. 1 seeds would be former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Either would be favored to beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 finals, according to the latest Fox News Poll.

CLICK TO READ COMPLETE POLL RESULTS

Democratic primary voters were read a list of 20 announced and potential candidates for the 2020 nomination. Biden is the top choice at 31 percent, followed by Sanders at 23 percent.

California Sen. Kamala Harris (8 percent) and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (8 percent) make up a second tier. They are followed by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (4 percent), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (4 percent), and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (2 percent).

The other candidates are the political equivalent of a 16th seed -- they receive less than two percent.

Eleven percent are unsure of their picks.

Men, women, whites, non-whites, college graduates, and non-graduate Democratic primary voters all put Biden first and Sanders second. Sanders has the edge among those under age 45, while Biden is first for those 45 and over.

Democratic primary voters are more likely to support a candidate they think can beat Trump (51 percent) than the candidate they like the most (36 percent).

While Biden is technically undeclared, he slipped up and said he is entering the 2020 race. An official April announcement is expected.

Two-thirds of Democratic primary voters want Biden to run, and he is the top choice among those who prioritize beating Trump, followed by Harris, Sanders, and O’Rourke.

Among those who say it is more important to vote for the candidate they like than the one who could win, Sanders is the first choice, followed by Biden.

“Democratic primary voters would welcome Biden into the field, should he run,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Republican Daron Shaw. “They prioritize beating Trump, and as of now Biden fares best of the more widely known Democratic candidates against Trump.”

The poll also asks Democratic primary voters about policies. Majorities are “very” likely to back a candidate who supports Medicare for all (67 percent) and a 70 percent tax rate on income over $10 million (53 percent). Less than 4 in 10 are very likely to vote for a candidate who supports passing the Green New Deal (37 percent), paying reparations to descendants of slaves (31 percent), and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE (25 percent).

The hypothetical head-to-heads among registered voters show support for Trump stays between 40-42 percent against each Democrat tested. He tops both Harris (39-41 percent) and Warren by 2 points (40-42 percent).

Sanders has a 3-point edge over the president (44-41 percent), but Biden performs best, topping Trump by 7 points (47-40 percent).

The head-to-head matchups between Trump and Sanders, Harris, and Warren are within the poll’s margin of sampling error. Biden’s lead is just outside it.

“There is ambivalence at this early stage of the nomination process,” says Shaw. “Democrats want Trump out any way possible, but they also have a set of public policy preferences that would have been considered way outside of the mainstream even 10 years ago.  This has major implications for all candidates and especially for Biden.  Democrats like him, they want him to run, and are likely to be impressed Biden currently runs well against Trump, but do they think winning the White House depends on him?  If not, the rationale for his candidacy is unclear.”

Finally, 41 percent of Democratic primary voters would rather Trump be voted out of office in 2020 than impeached. That matches the 41 percent who prefer he be impeached and removed before the election.

Now that would be a real bracket-buster.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,002 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide, including 403 Democratic primary voters, and was conducted under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) (formerly named Anderson Robbins Research) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 17-20, 2019. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters and plus or minus five percentage points for Democratic primary voters.