ALG Research examines Joe Biden's strong standing across the Democratic base and how his key strengths align with what primary voters are searching for in a nominee

May 10, 2019
Biden's Post-Announcement Bounce Gives Him Wide Lead
Following his April 25th announcement, Joe Biden  received  an impressive  11-point bounce in the average of primary polls  and now leads the Democratic field by over 20 points both nationally and in key early states.  Biden  now receives 41% of the vote in the average of national primary polls - putting him 26 points ahead of the nearest candidate The former Vice President is doing even better in the first three states, where he leads by an average of 24 points after double-digit  bounces  in each one (+10 in Iowa, +12 in New Hampshire and +12 in South Carolina).

 Average Support in National Democratic Primary Polls

Biden's Broad Appeal
Biden's strong standing with primary voters extends across demographic and ideological lines as he  leads  with nearly every major subgroup: whites, voters of color men, women, voters under and over 50 years of age, non-college and college educated voters, and liberals and moderates.  Biden also  does  8 points better with Democrats who voted in at least one of the last two Democratic primaries than those who did not.
It may not seem like Biden's lead is this large, but that's because he does especially well among the portions of the Democratic primary electorate who are less likely to be on Twitter and who tend to get less press coverage than the more liberal faction. Nearly  three-quarters  of Democratic primary voters (73%) do not post on Twitter , and those that do post are far whiter, more liberal and more likely to have a college degree than the primary electorate overall.
According to a  CNN analysis  of polling and Catalist voter file data, 56% of the Democratic primary electorate is over 50, 59% do not have a college degree, and a majority identify as moderate or conservative - busting the myth that in order to win the Democratic nomination the candidate needs to be hyper-liberal.  Biden  leads  with each of these groups by over 30 points and also enjoys a 24-point lead among those voters who identify as somewhat liberal, a group that represents a larger share of the primary electorate (roughly 30%) than those who identify as very liberal (19%).

Demographic Breakdown of 2020 Democratic Primary Poll Results  
Source: An average of  CNN/SSRS  and  Quinnipiac  polls, April 28/29, 2019.  
Biden Viewed More Favorably and Generates More Enthusiasm than Rest of Field
Biden is  viewed  more favorably (76% favorable)  by primary voters than any other Democratic candidate and generates the most enthusiasm by a wide margin: 53% are excited about him running, putting him 17 points ahead of Bernie Sanders who has the next highest enthusiasm rating. And contrary to conventional wisdom, Biden's popularity advantage is not driven just by name ID. Nate Silver  found  that Biden is still the most popular candidate in the field when controlling for name ID (by looking at favorability ratings for each candidate only among those primary voters who can rate them).
Recent polling  shows  that Democratic primary voters' favorable views towards Biden and their enthusiasm for him are driven by his experience, authenticity, ability to beat Trump, and his status as a champion for the middle class. Nearly  half  of Biden supporters (48%) cite experience as their primary reason for supporting him, and a strong majority of  Democratic primary voters (56%) think Biden has the best chance to beat Trump in 2020, 44 points ahead of any other candidate.
Biden also outperforms other Democrats in a match-up against Trump in general election polls, both nationally and in key states. He leads Trump  nationally  by 6 points, by 13 points in  Michigan , and is the only Democrat who leads Trump in  Arizona  or  Nevada .

Biden's Strengths Align with what Primary Voters are Looking for in a Nominee
A significant reason for Biden's strong standing in the polls is that his strengths align closely with what Democratic primary voters are prioritizing in their search for a nominee. The  most important  factor in their decision on whom to support is a candidate's ability to beat Trump (92% extremely or very important), followed by experience (77%) and bipartisanship (77%), which are all Biden strengths.  Most Democratic primary voters also  want  a candidate with Obama-style policies (59%). Just 17% want a Democratic candidate with more liberal policies than Obama, only slightly more than the 12% who want a Democratic candidate with more conservative policies. The desire for a candidate that offers the same kind of policies as Obama is strong among both white voters (55%) and voters of color (67%).