CBS News Battleground Tracker: Biden has edge in Super Tuesday states

National

(CBS) — The Super Tuesday primaries on March 3, 2020, have a diverse electorate and the largest single-day delegate prize on the Democratic calendar next year. They have attracted added attention lately, since former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has staked his newly launched presidential bid on these contests, instead of charting a more conventional path through Iowa and New Hampshire.

This CBS News Battleground Tracker shows Bloomberg stands in fifth place across the Super Tuesday states, while it’s Joe Biden, along with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders just behind him, who continue to form the top tier there. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth at 9%, as yet unable to match the levels of support he’s seen in Iowa. Another late entrant into the race, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, has yet to gain much traction at 1%.

 Watching this unsettled campaign elicits mixed emotions from Democrats: they’re more likely to say they feel “nervous” than “optimistic.” Only 22% say they’re “excited,” and just 18% feel “inspired” — this, despite saying they want a candidate who is inspiring.

Four in 10 Democratic voters continue to be uneasy about their party’s prospects of nominating someone who can beat President Trump next November. When asked why they are uneasy, 36% say that campaigns are just uncertain, 29% that the candidates are fighting too much among themselves, and 22% that it’s not a really strong field of candidates.

And beyond the candidates’ own supporters — who do have confidence in them — none of the top-tier candidates are seen by a majority of Democrats as probably beating Mr. Trump. Biden does best on this measure, but even he has not convinced a majority of Democrats that he would win, beyond his own backers.

So, does this leave an opening for Bloomberg to gain in these states? He does relatively better in vote share among those Democrats who think the campaign is taking the party in too liberal a direction. But those voters are heavily outnumbered: just 22% of Democrats actually think the party is becoming too liberal, while most say they like the ideological direction the party is headed.

To the extent Bloomberg has support, he’s primarily drawn from former Biden backers. Moderate and conservative Democrats are more inclined than liberal Democrats to like that he entered the race. At the moment, Bloomberg’s wealth may be more of a hindrance than a help, especially among the more liberal wing of the party. About half — in particular, Warren and Sanders backers — believe it shows rich people can have too much influence in politics. Just over a third either say they believe his personal spending on the campaign shows his “dedication” to the effort or independence from big donors.

Voters may not yet be familiar with him or at least with the story he’s telling. While more Democrats say Bloomberg’s ads are memorable compared to those of other candidates, half say they don’t know about Bloomberg’s past support for Democratic positions on items like gun control and climate. Half like him personally, which is far fewer than those who say they like the top-tier candidates.

Bloomberg’s campaign approach is politically interesting, betting that the outsize attention heaped on small, earlier states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina won’t decide the race. About half of Democrats in Super Tuesday states say the outcome of those early states may have some impact on what they ultimately think. We asked what, in particular, voters think they can learn from the early states, and 49% say those results might tell them who the real contenders for the Democratic nomination are, while 22% say it will give insight on who might be able to win in November.

Back up atop the leaderboard, Biden’s standing continues to be boosted by moderate Democrats, but it also reflects differences on how the Democratic Party should approach economic issues. By two to one, Democrats would prefer the party’s platform emphasize policies that favor the middle and working class more than the wealthy. Warren and Sanders do better among this group. Biden, however, has a clear edge among those who think the party should treat all classes equally.

Democrats are more likely to think their taxes would go up under Warren and Sanders than under Biden. Some of the policies proposed by Warren and Sanders include raising taxes on the wealthy, and it is upper-income Democrats, more so than those with lower incomes, who believe their taxes will increase if either of these candidates become president. Biden’s supporters are more likely to think Warren will raise their taxes than they do any of the other top-tier candidates.

Democrats in these states are looking for a nominee who is practical over one that is idealistic. Biden leads among those who want a practical nominee, while Sanders has the edge among those who want an idealistic one. Warren gets a similar level of support among both groups. 

This CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov between December 3 and 11, 2019. A representative sample of 21,461 registered voters was selected in 14 states expected to hold primaries on Super Tuesday (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota,  North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia). This sample includes 10,379 self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote. The margin of error is +/- 1.3 percentage points.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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