A new set of polls from states that will be among the first to vote in 2020 brings bad news for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who in 2016 staged a surprisingly strong run against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. In 2016, Sanders defeated Clinton in the first primary state, New Hampshire, winning more than 60 percent of the vote. According to a new CBS News/YouGov poll, however, Sanders is currently in third place in that state, at just 20 percent.
In other words, Sanders has lost two-thirds of the support he enjoyed in New Hampshire in 2016. The new CBS News/YouGov polling suggests that Sanders is struggling because voters fear that his policy proposals are “too liberal” to defeat Donald Trump.
In the Iowa caucus, which following tradition will be the first event of the long primary campaign, Sanders sits tied for third with former Vice President Joe Biden at 15 percent, according to a Real Clear Politics summary of the CBS/YouGov poll. In Nevada, which holds caucuses on February 22, Sanders occupied second place with 23 percent.
But that places him a full 10 points behind the frontrunning Biden in Nevada, according to CBS/YouGov.
South Carolina, which votes a week after Nevada, looks even worse for Sanders — and for all of the Democratic candidates except Biden. The former VP under President Barack Obama holds a seemingly insurmountable lead in that state, at 35 percent. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren trails Biden by 18 points, while Sanders languishes a full 20 points back with 15 percent.
Sanders appears unable, so far, to overcome voter fears that his highly liberal policy proposals present too much risk in a general election against the incumbent Trump. The poll found that both Sanders and Warren — whose policies are strongly similar to those in Sanders’ platform — are viewed as riskier than any of the candidates in the race, when it comes to their ability to defeat Trump in 2020, according to a CBS News analysis of the polling.
According to the poll, 44 percent of Democratic voters across the first 18 states to vote next year view Sanders’ policies as “too liberal to defeat Trump.” For Warren, 36 percent say the same thing, but only six percent of Democrats in those states feel that Biden is “too liberal” to beat Trump.
Nearly six of 10 voters in the poll, 57 percent, call Biden the “safe” candidate in a matchup with Trump, though approximately one-third also describes him as “boring,” according to CBS News.
Voter confidence that Biden can defeat Trump has been supported in almost every head-to-head nationwide poll taken to date. In Morning Call polling released earlier this week, Biden also polled well ahead of Trump in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, winning by nine points, as well as in the southern state of Georgia.
Biden leads Trump by eight points in Georgia, according to the Morning Call poll.