2020 Presidential Polls: Joe Biden Drops 10 Points In First Post-Debate Poll As Kamala Harris Soars

A shot of the 2020 Democratic presidential debate.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Initial polls after the first 2020 Democratic debates brought very bad news for Joe Biden and very good news for Kamala Harris.

After two nights of very crowded debate stages filled with nearly two dozen candidates, a Morning Consult/FiveThirtyEight poll took a snapshot of what Democratic voters are currently thinking about the candidates. The poll showed that Biden, who still leads in the crowded field, dropped 10 points to 31.5 percent support. Kamala Harris, who was widely praised for her performance in the debate, rose nearly 9 points to 16.6 percent support.

During the debate, Harris and Biden clashed in one of the most contentious exchanges of either night when Harris took aim at the former vice president for his statements in support of segregationists.

Harris used personal anecdotes to convey how she was affected by forced busing.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said, via CNBC. “I will tell you that on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously. We have to act swiftly.”

While Joe Biden has been at the top of the polls since officially entering the race — and even before then — his poll numbers have slipped in recent weeks amid controversies. This week, one of Biden’s top donors publicly broke with the candidate amid the former vice president’s controversial comments about working with segregationists in the Senate.

As CNBC noted, San Francisco-based lawyer Tom McInerney told Biden’s team that he would no longer be backing Biden. McInerney had been a key backer of Barack Obama, helping to raise $200,000 in the 2008 election. He told CNBC that Biden’s controversial comments were behind the decision to detach, and said he would not be surprised to see other donors break from Biden as well.

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While the new poll may be a current snapshot regarding where voters stand after the first two Democratic debates, it is not clear how representative the new numbers are for voters as a whole and what those numbers will mean in the long term for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The first poll was conducted over the course of seven days while surveying 7,150 registered voters. The post-debate poll was taken over the course of two days, one of which was after the first debate but before the second, when Harris and Biden took the stage.