The first major national poll since Thursday’s dramatic Democratic presidential debate was released on Sunday morning, and California Sen. Kamala Harris will be happy about it. The results show that her devastating attack on frontrunner Joe Biden, the former United States vice president under Barack Obama, has paid off — big time. In fact, the 54-year-old former state attorney general doubled her share of support, according to the poll by Morning Consult, climbing all the way to 12 percent and a tie for third place in the 24-candidate field.
Harris confronted Biden over his past stances on racial issues, such as his earlier opposition to government-ordered busing as a means to racially integrate public schools, as CNN reported. The poll shows that her attack has paid dividends, at least for now.
But the poll was not all rosy for Harris. Her new 12 percent share, while a significant jump, leaves her tied with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in third place — but still an intimidating 21 points behind Biden, whose support dropped somewhat in the Morning Consult poll, but not enough to endanger his commanding lead in the field, which now stands at 14 points over second-place Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
The poll showed trouble signs for Sanders, however. Though his support held steady at 19 percent, his favorability rating among Democratic voters dropped by seven points, to 67 percent favorable from 74 percent before the debate. In other words, where three of every four Democrats previously said they had a favorable view of Sanders, now two out of every three say so.
Sanders was the only major Democratic candidate to see a significant drop in favorability following the debate. While Biden’s support — the number of voters who said that he is their first choice in the Democratic primary — dropped from 38 to 33 percent, the former VP remains 14 points ahead of second-place Sanders.
Voters were also asked for their second choice candidate in the Morning Consult survey. Those results showed that despite their sharp ideological differences, Biden and Sanders share a large number of supporters, perhaps indicating that Democratic voters are more interested in a candidate who they believe can defeat Donald Trump, rather than the one who agrees most closely with their ideological point of view.
While Sanders describes himself as a “democratic socialist,” and calls for a “political revolution,” Biden has long been a key member of the Democratic Party’s center faction, and recently told a group of wealthy campaign donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he were elected president, according to The Washington Post.
Nonetheless, according to the Morning Consult poll, Sanders is the leading second choice among Biden voters, with 32 percent of Biden’s supporters saying they would vote for the “democratic socialist” if Biden were for some reason to withdraw from the race. Among Sanders’ supporters, Biden stands as the leading second choice, with 27 percent of Sanders supporters saying they would vote for Biden over any other candidate.