The Democratic Primary Isn’t Just a Contest Between Biden and Sanders

According to the polling average at RealClearPolitics, this is where things stand for the top seven Democratic primary candidates nationally.

Biden: 32 percent
Sanders: 15 percent
Warren: 12 percent
Buttigieg: 7 percent
Harris: 7 percent
O’Rourke: 4 percent
Booker: 2 percent

But that doesn’t tell the whole story, as I’ve been saying for quite a while now. A recent poll by Data for Progress asked respondents to name their most preferred candidates, up to a maximum of five, and their least preferred candidates, up to a maximum of five. Here is what they found.

Of the candidates in the top seven, the current leaders—Sanders and Biden—were also named in the bottom five most often. When the percent of people who listed a candidate in their bottom five is subtracted from the percent who placed them in the top five, the order of the top seven is shuffled a bit.

That is what leads to one of the topline findings from this poll: “Democratic primary voters are considering many candidates.”

One final thing to note from this poll is that respondents were asked how much they had heard about each candidate: a lot (dark blue), some (light blue), a little (light gray), not at all (dark gray).

The order in which these candidates land in the polls mirrors the amount of information potential primary voters have about them. While Biden and Sanders are pretty well maxed out, the rest of the field has room to grow.

Of course all of the caveats apply about this only being one poll, but it captures data we’ve learned from others that go beyond simply asking respondents which one candidate they favor in the primary. Most Democrats know that the process has only just begun and are willing to consider any number of these candidates as they learn more about them.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.