By Dana Blanton
Published June 16, 2019
Former Vice President Joe Biden is still, by far, the leader in the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination race. His lead reflects the mood of the party, as Democratic primary voters want someone who will unite Americans, provide steady leadership, and who has high ethical standards. In addition, while Democrats best President Trump in hypothetical matchups and keep his support at 41 percent or lower, none of the challengers hits 50 percent.
These are some of the findings from the latest Fox News Poll.
Biden tops the list of Democratic contenders with 32 percent support among primary voters. Bernie Sanders trails at 13 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 9 percent, and Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris both at 8 percent. Next is Beto O’Rourke at 4 percent, Cory Booker at 3 percent, and Amy Klobuchar and Andrew Yang each garner 2 percent. Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Tim Ryan receive 1 percent a piece.
Since March, Sanders is down 10 points, while Buttigieg (+7), Warren (+5), and Biden (+1) have gained ground.
Biden comes in first (by wide margins) and Sanders comes in second among men, women, whites, and non-whites. Among primary voters 45 years and over, Biden leads by over 30 points, while among those under age 45 he has only a 3-point edge.
Self-described moderate Democrats give Biden a 29-point advantage, while he leads by a narrower 10 points among Democrats who identify as progressive.
Overall, Democratic primary voters divide when choosing between a candidate with “high ethical standards” (52 percent) and one who can “defeat Donald Trump” (45 percent).
By a 74-23 percent margin, they prioritize nominating a candidate who will “unite Americans around shared beliefs” over “fight against extreme right-wing beliefs.”
They also prefer, by a 72-25 percent margin, their nominee provide “steady, reliable leadership” rather than “a bold, new agenda.”
Those prioritizing steady leadership go big for Biden (37 percent) over Sanders (12 percent). Support spreads more evenly among those wanting a candidate with a bold agenda: Biden (21 percent), Sanders (17 percent), Warren and Buttigieg (12 percent each), and Harris (11 percent).
Biden leads among those Democrats wanting a uniter (+20 points) and a fighter (+13), and he is the choice for both those preferring a candidate with high ethical standards (+12) and one who can beat Trump (+27).
“Some on the left mock Biden as naive for suggesting he can bring Americans together, but primary voters prefer his steady style and unifying approach,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox New Poll with Republican Daron Shaw. "A big question is whether another candidate can provide a viable alternative for voters who like Biden’s approach, but aren’t enthused with his candidacy.”
President Trump officially launches his reelection campaign June 18.
More voters would be enthusiastic if Trump were to win reelection than felt that way in 2016 -- and fewer would be scared. The share of those feeling enthusiastic is up 8 points since October 2016 overall and up 18 among Republicans. The number of voters feeling scared is down 16.
Still, half would be displeased (20 percent) or scared (30 percent) if Trump is reelected.
Trump trails the Democrat in each of the possible 2020 head-to-head matchups tested and never gets above 41 percent support. At the same time, none of the challengers hits 50 percent.
Biden tops Trump by 10 points (49-39 percent) and Sanders is up by nine (49-40) -- both of these leads are outside the poll’s margin of error. Warren has a two-point edge over Trump (43-41), and Harris (42-41) and Buttigieg (41-40) are up by one (within the margin of error).
The president’s current standing is actually better than where he stood at this point in the cycle four years ago. In June 2015, Democrat Hillary Clinton was ahead of Trump by 17 points.
"Trump's current position in the polls is far from ideal," says Shaw. "But he's definitely in the game. His base is on board and he'll have ample opportunity to frame the choice set moving forward while the Democrats battle for voter and media attention in the debates."
A 60 percent majority doesn’t think a politician with low moral standards can be a good leader, yet voters say they will place greater importance on supporting a candidate who shares their views (55 percent) than one who is highly ethical (40 percent).
Some 70 percent of Democrats don’t believe a politician with low moral standards can be a good leader compared to just 48 percent of Republicans.
Democrats prioritize supporting a candidate who is highly ethical over one who shares their views on major issues by 6 points. It is more lopsided, in the opposite direction, for Republicans, as they put issues over ethics by 42 points.
Abortion is sure to be a hot issue for both sides in 2020. Views split: 50 percent of voters think abortion should be legal all (31 percent) or most of the time (19 percent), while 46 percent say it should be illegal all the time (12 percent) or except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother (34 percent). Most Democrats (68 percent) say it should be legal and most Republicans (68 percent) say illegal.
Overall, 64 percent of voters think the Supreme Court should let Roe v. Wade stand, and a 61 percent majority opposes their state passing a law similar to ones in Alabama and Georgia that ban abortion in all cases other than to save the life of the mother.
Conducted June 9-12, 2019 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,001 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters, and 4.5 points for Democratic primary voters (449).