A new poll shows that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has surged into the clear frontrunner’s spot in the Democratic 2020 presidential field. But despite opening up a 12-point lead over previous frontrunner Joe Biden in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday, Sanders would face significant obstacles in a general election fight against Donald Trump, according to the survey’s findings.
While the poll shows Sanders beating Trump in a one-on-one matchup by four percentage points, 50-46, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to perform better in the general election matchup. In the NBC/WSJ poll, Biden holds a decisive eight-point lead over Trump, 52-44.
But perhaps more importantly, the poll found that three descriptions closely associated with Sanders rank as the most unpopular qualities in a presidential candidate among voters in the poll. Though Sanders openly describes himself as a “democratic socialist,” 67 percent of respondents — or two of every three — say that “socialist” is the least popular quality in a presidential candidate.
The lack of popularity was measured by combining respondents who said that they would have “reservations” about a candidate with a specific quality, and those who said they would be “very uncomfortable” with that candidate.
The poll found that the second most unpopular quality in a candidate was “heart attack in past year,” with 57 percent saying they were either “very uncomfortable with such a candidate, or at least had “reservations” about voting for that person.
Sanders suffered a heart attack last October and spent three days in the hospital as a result. Though Sanders earlier this month claimed that he has spoken to “cardiologists who are confirming that I am in good health,” he has refused to release a full set of medical records revealing the extent of his heart condition.
The third-most unpopular quality also applies to Sanders. In the poll, 53 percent said that they would be “very uncomfortable” with, or have “reservations” about a candidate who is at least 75-years-old.
But Sanders, who will turn 79 on September 8, is not alone in that category. Biden would turn 78 on November 20. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg turned 78 last Friday.
But Bloomberg showed a significant surge in the poll, rising five points from last month’s NBC/WSJ survey, now commanding 14 percent support, 13 points behind Sanders and tied for third place in the Democratic field with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
In the 2016 Democratic primary, which was largely a two-way race between Sanders and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, the Vermont Senator finished with 43.2 percent of the primary vote, according to Real Clear Politics. In a more crowded 2020 field, Sanders has topped 27 percent in only two polls out of 33 released so far this year.