August 27, 2019
433: The number of days until the U.S. general election in November 2020.
Though it may sound far off to many, especially those who don't live and breathe politics in their professional life, Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute told Cheddar that as we approach Labor Day, voters are now starting to "pay attention" to the presidential race.
And with the change of the season, so too comes a change at the top of the organization's most recent poll.
The latest Monmouth University poll shows Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tied for first place among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, both with 20 percent — a notable jump since the last poll. Sanders saw the biggest leap since the last poll, up 6 points now. Warren is up 5 percent.
It also means the pair are in a virtual tie with former Vice President Joe Biden, who appeared to be the clear frontrunner when the poll was last conducted two months ago. The new poll shows him falling 13 points to 19 percent.
The Monmouth poll released Monday was based on 298 registered voters who identified as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic party , with a +/- 5.7 percent point margin of error.
"Voters are now searching for: who do I think is the best candidate for me, for the issues that I stand for, and also, for beating Donald Trump. Maybe they're second guessing Joe Biden," Patrick Murray told Cheddar Tuesday.
When asked for a comment, Biden's campaign pointed to other recent polls, such as the Morning Consult and Emerson, which show the former VP with a commanding lead, although neither are qualifying polls for the Democratic debates.
The Monmouth poll by itself did not have a large impact on his current status as frontrunner. According to the Real Clear Politics Average, which tracks a number of polls over time, Joe Biden is still up 10 points against his closest rival, Bernie Sanders.
Biden's Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield told MSNBC, "He is leading in the polls to be clear. The most important thing is the reason why, which is not that voters know his name but that they know him. They know his character. They know his values. And they know that he's offering plans and ideas that capitalize on the urgency of now."
But Murray called this fall in the Monmouth poll an "erosion of support" and added Joe Biden's "electability" is now under question as voters become increasingly exposed to Elizabeth Warren, the 2020 hopeful known to have "a plan for that."
Over the weekend, Warren's town hall reeled in a historic 15,000-person crowd in Seattle.
"People walk away from her events and seeing her, either saying yes, she is that liberal warrior that I want," Murray said. "Or, saying, you know what, I think she's pragmatic."
The polling expert, who told Cheddar he has been to a few of Warren's town halls as a reporter on the campaign trail, added: "She is actually very successful in winning over some of those moderate voters, who are looking for somebody who is going to be strong as a candidate, but not too far left," when discussing her pro-Medicare-for-All stance, which has continued to be a point of contention in the Democratic race.
Moreover, Patrick Murray seems to think the downward trend for Joe Biden in the most recent Monmouth poll has strong implications for the candidate's future:
"That was the one statistically significant finding we had in the poll we've been doing, tracking the Democratic nomination process since January."