Even as former Vice President Joe Biden solidifies his position as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, a new ABC News/The Washington Post poll shows fewer than a quarter of Biden's supporters are "very enthusiastic" to vote for him in the general election—a historic low for a Democratic candidate in the survey.
With 24% of Biden's supporters reporting that they are "very enthusiastic" about casting votes for him in November, the former vice president has the lowest level of enthusiastic support of any Democratic candidate in the past two decades, ABC News reported.
Meanwhile, 53% of President Donald Trump's supporters said they were "very enthusiastic" about voting for his re-election in the poll. The poll surveyed 1,003 Americans and had a margin of error of 3.5 points.
Level of Enthusiasm:
Among Trump supporters:
Very enthusiastic 53%
Somewhat enthusiastic 32%
Not so/not at all 14%
— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) March 29, 2020
Briahna Joy Gray, press secretary to Biden's remaining primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), highlighted the fact that the poll follows numerous surveys showing that a majority of Democratic voters are far apart from Biden in terms of their views on a number of policy ideas, including Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a generous paid family leave program.
Biden's campaign has been notable for downplaying key bold and progressive policies like Medicare for All, student debt cancellation, a Green New Deal, and robust paid family leave policies—all key planks that have energized and excited younger voters and those who have flocked to Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Biden's campaign has been notable for downplaying key bold and progressive policies like Medicare for All, student debt cancellation, a Green New Deal, and robust paid family leave policies—all key planks that have energized and excited younger voters and others who have flocked to Sanders.
Instead of supporting the candidate who most closely aligns with a majority of voters' views, journalist Branko Marcetic tweeted, Democrats appear to have voted "for what they think other people want," resulting in low enthusiasm for the presumptive nominee.
While Republican voters vote for what they believe, no matter how extreme, Democratic voters are perennially playing themselves, voting for what they think other people want. The result: https://t.co/6VHBJydLWo pic.twitter.com/JDHCbrG2T8
— Branko Marcetic (@BMarchetich) March 29, 2020
By contrast, a CNN survey in January that looked at enthusiasm levels of Sanders, Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) supporters found that those backing Sanders were the most excited about their candidate.
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Sanders' senior policy advisor, Heather Gautney, tweeted that the latest polling from ABC/Washington Post showed that Biden's campaign must reach out to Sanders' supporters and demonstrate a serious interest in passing broadly popular, progressive reforms should Biden win the general election.
"Quit saying that you would veto Medicare for All," Gautney offered as a piece of advice for Biden.
NEW POLL: If Biden wins, he will need Sanders’ supporters. Otherwise, he loses to Trump. My advice: show MUCH more respect to Bernie’s supporters, stop trying to push Bernie out of the primary, and quit saying that you would veto Medicare for All. https://t.co/cve5Q4bBTH
— Heather Gautney (@HeatherGautney) March 29, 2020
The poll showed that even when counting voters who are "somewhat enthusiastic" about voting for Trump and Biden, the president currently leads Biden by 12 points: 86% versus 74%.
The survey contained a "poor omen" for the former vice president, wrote Sofi Sinozich at ABC News, as it mirrors enthusiasm levels for other Democratic candidates who have lost general elections in recent years—including Hillary Clinton, who lost against Trump.
"There's déjà vu in these results: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found herself in largely the same position four years ago," wrote Sinozich. "She, too, had a slim lead among Democrats for the nomination and ran essentially evenly with Trump among registered voters. And she lagged in enthusiasm, with a low of 32% very enthusiastic in September 2016. Biden is 8 points under that mark now."
While very low, Sinozich added, enthusiasm levels among supporters of a presumptive nominee have been lower before—but those nominees have gone on to lose the general election:
As few as 17% of former Republican presidential nominee and Arizona Sen. John McCain's supporters were very enthusiastic about his candidacy in 2008, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney saw 23% in 2012. The poor omen for Biden is that Clinton, McCain and Romney all lost.
While some on Twitter criticized progressives and Sanders supporters raising alarm over the new polling results—suggesting doing so would somehow help Trump win in November—Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson called that response "a misunderstanding."
This is a misunderstanding. Trump terrifies me; I would much prefer Biden. I told people to vote for Hillary, too. I am begging Dems not to nominate Biden in large part because liberals still don't understand how good Trump is at ripping apart establishment politicians. https://t.co/OWU5rbgD5u
— Nathan J Robinson (@NathanJRobinson) March 29, 2020
Journalist Doug Henwood also expressed fears that the poll predicted a similar general election result to 2016.
2016 all over again. When I said, “Hillary is a shitty candidate and you’re going to regret this,” liberals would respond, “Who do you want, Trump?” No, and that’s the point. You don’t put up a candidate even his supporters don’t love to beat someone whose supporters worship. https://t.co/TgXPzaFIiV
— Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood) March 29, 2020
"You don't put up a candidate even his supporters don't love to beat someone whose supporters worship," Henwood wrote.