Senator Elizabeth Warren‘s slow but steady rise through the 2020 ranks has officially put her at the top of the pack—albeit by a very small margin. The Massachusetts lawmaker officially overtook former Vice President Joe Biden in RealClearPolitics’ 2020 polling average, polling at 26.6% as compared with Biden’s 26.4%. Warren is also notably the only candidate whose polling has steadily gone up throughout the primary, while Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds a 14.6% polling average, have seen their popularity fluctuate and go down from their starting highs.
Warren’s new lead in national polls comes on the back of a Quinnipiac poll, released on last week, which shows her leading the Democratic field: 29 percent of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters said they would vote for her if the primary were held today. Former Vice President Joe Biden, now in second place, received 26 percent of the vote in the same poll. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), typically considered the other frontrunner in the race, had 16 percent.
The poll’s questions about the Democratic primary had a margin of error of 4.7 percentage points, so Biden and Warren are in a very close race. Notably, Warren also appears to be the only candidate with a steady upward trend in the RealClearPolitics polling average.
Warren has led in four of the five most recent polls averaged by RealClearPolitics, although in many cases her lead is still within the margin of error.
Warren is outpacing Biden in the polls just as she’s also gaining a significant fundraising lead on the former vice president. In the third quarter of 2019, Warren raised just shy of $25 million dollars, placing her slightly behind Sanders’s fundraising total for the quarter and well ahead of Biden’s haul of only $15.2 million.
About six in 10 likely Democratic voters or caucusgoers say it’s more important to nominate a candidate with a strong chance of beating President Donald Trump than it is to nominate one who shares their views on the issues. And in both states, the group that is focused on beating Trump is more apt to favor Biden over Sanders. In Nevada, they are also more apt to favor Warren than are those focused on issues, her numbers are about the same across those groups in South Carolina.
Regardless of how they rate the importance of a candidate’s positions on the issues, Nevada and South Carolina Democrats seem to differ over who can best handle the top issues facing the field. On health care, South Carolina’s likely voters favor Biden — 34% say he’d do the best job on it vs. 17% for Sanders and 16% for Warren — while those in Nevada give Sanders an edge — 32% say the Vermonter would do the best job on health care, 25% Biden, 17% Warren.
Warren’s ascendance to front-runner status has spurred an uptick in criticism against the unabashed progressive in recent weeks, as Warren has started to face attacks on her policies from 2020 rivals like Yang and Pete Buttigieg, as well as mounting opposition from the factions her campaign is targeting. (Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg vowed to “fight” Warren’s plans to break up Big Tech, while Wall Street donors have threatened to sit out the election if she’s the nominee.)
But Warren has so far been uniquely able to use her detractors to her advantage, turning the corporate criticism against her into evidence of her progressive bona fides. “I’m not afraid of anonymous quotes, and wealthy donors don’t get to buy this process,” Warren tweeted in response to the Wall Street donors report.