A new poll this week shows Joe Biden losing his front-runner status in the Democratic presidential race, but another released the same day shows the former vice president maintaining a solid lead over his top rivals, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
A Monmouth University poll released Monday showed Sanders and Warren effectively tied with Biden, but the survey has a large margin of error and is an outlier compared with other recent national polls, which have usually shown Biden with a lead of at least several points.
National support for the former vice president among likely Democratic voters interviewed by Monmouth dropped to 19% from 32% compared with Monmouth’s previous poll in June, while Warren, of Massachusetts, jumped to 20% from 15% and Sanders, of Vermont, leapt to 20% from 14%.
Survey numbers indicated that previous supporters of Biden, a moderate, might be flipping to Warren and Sanders, two of the most progressive candidates in the race, rather than opting for less left-wing alternatives.
A Morning Consult survey also released Monday was more consistent with trends in other recent polls. It found Biden backed by 33% of Democratic primary voters nationwide, followed by Sanders, with 20%, and Warren, with 15%.
“Moderate voters, who have been paying less attention, seem to be expressing doubts about Biden. But they are swinging more toward one of the left-leaning contenders with high name recognition rather than toward a lesser known candidate who might be more in line with them politically,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.
The survey has a 5.7% margin of error, suggesting more polling is needed to confirm whether a shift is really taking place in the race and whether Biden, Sanders and Warren are as competitive as they appear.
“This poll is an outlier that is contradicted by every measure of the national average,” a Biden campaign spokesman said in a statement, citing a Real Clear Politics aggregation of multiple recent national polls showing Biden leading Warren and Sanders by more than 10% on average.
Murray acknowledged the poll’s unusual result, adding, “It’s important to keep in mind this is just one snapshot from one poll.”
Biden has largely maintained a commanding lead in previous presidential primary polls even as questions have mounted about his frequent verbal slips on the campaign trail and the often-lukewarm views of his supporters.
The Monmouth poll was conducted through telephone interviews from Aug. 16 to 20 with 298 registered voters who identified as Democrats or who leaned toward the party.
Times staff writer Michael Finnegan contributed to this report.