Sanders, Biden battle for lead in new national polls

Two new national surveys released Wednesday point to the race for the Democratic presidential nomination turning into a two-candidate battle between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Sanders – the populist independent senator from Vermont who’s making his second straight White House run – stands at 27 percent among Democrats and independent voters who lean toward the Democratic Party in a new CNN poll, with the former vice president at 24 percent. Sanders’ 3-point advantage is within the survey’s margin of error – but the new poll marks the first time Biden hasn’t held a solo lead over his 2020 Democratic nomination rivals in CNN surveys.

Sanders surged 7 percentage points since CNN’s previous national poll in the Democratic nomination race – which was conducted in December. Biden’s edged down 2 points.

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But both candidates stand far above the rest of the field.

Progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts registers at 14 percent, with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 11 percent. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg grabs 5 percent support in the survey, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang each at 4 percent, and billionaire environmental and progressive advocate Tom Steyer at 2 percent. No other candidate tested reaches 1 percent.

Biden holds a 7-point lead over Sanders in a new Monmouth University national poll that was also released on Wednesday. The former vice president stands at 30 percent support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters in the survey, with Sanders at 23 percent. Biden’s jumped 4 points from Monmouth’s previous national survey, which was conducted in December. Sanders has edged up 2 points.

Warren’s a distant third in the Monmouth poll, at 14 percent support, with Bloomberg at 9 percent, Buttigieg at 6 percent, Klobuchar at 5 percent, and Yang at 3 percent. No other candidate tested topped 1 percent.

The polls were conducted after last week’s prime-time Democratic presidential nomination debate in Iowa, where Sanders and Warren clashed on-stage over sexism in politics and whether or not Sanders told Warren in a private meeting in December 2018 that a woman candidate couldn’t beat President Trump in the 2020 general election.

While the fireworks between Sanders and Warren went viral, the fight over sexism doesn’t seem to be registering with voters. Nearly three-quarters of those questioned in the Monmouth poll say it doesn’t matter to them whether the party nominates a man or a woman to challenge Trump in November.

“It might make for great TV, but most Democrats seem immune to the ‘he said, he didn’t say’ dust-up between Sanders and Warren. Or at least they say that gender doesn’t matter,” Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray highlighted.

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The two new national polls were released with just 12 days to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nominating calendar, with the New Hampshire primary just eight days later. Biden and Sanders top an average of the polls in the two crucial early-voting states.

The Monmouth poll was conducted Jan. 16-20, with 903 registered voters nationwide – including 372 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents – questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error for Democratic primary questions is 5.1 percentage points.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS from Jan. 16 through 19 with 1,156 adults nationwide – including 500 Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents – questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error for Democratic primary questions is 5.3 percentage points.