New UMass Amherst Poll Shows Biden with Early Lead in 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary; Warren in Third Due to Issues with Men, Older Voters

Poll also shows Senator Markey facing close competition from Healey, Moulton
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AMHERST, Mass. – A poll conducted the week after the 2018 mid-term election of Massachusetts voters by the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows a slight early lead in support for former Vice President Joe Biden over both Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

When asked who they would support today in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary among nine possible candidates, 19 percent of respondents indicated Biden, with 14 percent supporting Sanders and 11 percent supporting Warren. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who gained national attention while taking on Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 mid-term, finished fourth with 10 percent. Twenty-seven percent of voters indicated they were undecided.

Biden also had the strongest support among male voters, with 23 percent saying they would vote for him, compared to 13 percent who favored Sanders. Thirty percent of male voters said they were undecided. Warren and Biden tied at 15 percent for female voter support, followed by 14 percent for Sanders. Twenty-four percent of female voters said they were undecided.

“While Senator Warren has emerged as a front runner for the Democratic nomination, she trails both Senator Sanders and former Vice President Biden in her own state. If she wants to win the White House she will have to tend to her own backyard,” says Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science and director of the UMass Poll.

Sanders is the favorite of younger voters ages 18-29 with 23 percent supporting him, followed by 15 percent for both O’Rourke and Warren. Seventeen percent of young voters said they were undecided. Biden performed well across all education levels, though Sanders holds a slight edge among those with a high school education or less.

Questions asked in the poll regarding current Massachusetts lawmakers’ job approval sheds light on why Warren may have trouble in 2020. While her job approval among female voters was 62 percent, the poll found only 49 percent for male voters approve of her performance. The poll found that men were half as likely as women to support Warren in the 2020 presidential primary. And while 74 percent of young voters (age 18-29) approve of her performance in the Senate, only 48 percent of voters 55 or older approve. She holds the support of 6 percent of these older voters for a potential 2020 run for the White House.

“If you are looking for how Warren might construct a coalition to win the presidential nomination, focus on three groups: women, young people and liberals. Those voters supported her in big numbers in her Senate re-election,” said Raymond La Raja, professor of political science and associate director of the UMass Poll.

On the Republican ticket, respondents were asked who they would choose if the Republican primary were held today. President Donald Trump was supported by 40 percent of voters polled, followed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker at 30 percent, with 16 percent saying they were undecided. Baker did better than Trump with female voters, 38 to 27 percent, while Trump performed better with male voters at 55 to 23 percent. Should Trump decide against running for re-election in 2020, Baker has the most support among Massachusetts voters at 33 percent to Vice President Mike Pence’s 26 percent, with 22 percent undecided.

“Charlie Baker owns this state,” La Raja says. “He has sky-high approval numbers, he seems immune from the backlash against Trump and the national GOP, and the voters think things are going well in Massachusetts while Washington is falling off the cliff. He won 45 percent of Democrats – that’s an astounding percentage in this era of polarization when the vast majority of partisans refuse to vote for someone in the other party. And women love him, too; with an approval rating of 73 percent he exceeds even Elizabeth Warren by 10 points. Another way to think about it is to compare Baker to the president who stands at just 26 percent approval among Massachusetts women – Baker has the approval of three times as many women.”

“While Baker enjoys bipartisan support from the state’s electorate, it is clear that Warren is viewed through a partisan lens,” Nteta says. “While more than 90 percent of the state’s conservatives, Republicans and Trump voters disapprove of the job that Warren has done in Washington, close to 90 percent of Democrats, liberals and Clinton voters approve of Senator Warren’s job performance.”

In the race for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in 2020, when Sen. Edward Markey will be up for re-election, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey holds a razor-thin edge over Markey, 27 to 26 percent, with 35 percent undecided. When paired against U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, Markey has a slight lead, 29 to 25 percent, with 38 percent undecided.

Healey is favored slightly over Markey with male voters, 36 to 33 percent; while Moulton is strongly favored 38 to 30 percent over the current senator. With women, Markey holds a slight advantage over Healey and a larger margin over Moulton. Healey is very popular with young voters, ages 18-29, with 45 percent of the vote, compared to Markey’s 24 percent. Markey tops Healey with voters ages 32-54 (32 to 26 percent) and those over 55 (31 to 27 percent). Markey also leads Moulton in all age groups except with voters over 55.

The UMass Poll, conducted online by YouGov Nov. 7-14, has a margin of error of 4.1 percent among registered voters. It included 796 respondents, of which 750 registered Massachusetts voters were assembled into the final dataset. Established in 2010, the UMass Poll has provided political polling for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and national races.


For additional results of the November UMass Poll, see:

Massachusetts Voters See Bay State, Nation Moving in Opposite Directions According to New UMass Amherst Poll

New UMass Amherst Poll Looks at Impact of Trump and Media on National Discourse


Complete topline results for the November UMass Poll are available for download HERE.

Complete crosstabs for the November UMass Poll are available for download HERE.