Suffolk University/Boston Globe NH Poll Shows Biden Leading Democrats

Buttigieg makes inroads, while Warren not seen as a viable Trump challenger
Former Vice President Joe Biden leads a long list of Democratic hopefuls seeking the 2020 presidential nomination less than a week after he announced his candidacy, according to a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of New Hampshire general election voters. A key factor for Democrats appears to be whether their nominee can prevail over President Donald Trump in 2020.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a relative newcomer to the national scene, is surging. And next-door neighbor Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, while still in the top four, is perceived by many as a candidate who can’t beat Trump.

Potential Democratic candidates


Of the 24 potential Democratic candidate choices presented in the poll, Biden was the choice of 20 percent of voters in his party, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Buttigieg (tied at 12 percent), Warren (8 percent), California Sen. Kamala Harris (6 percent), and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (tied at 3 percent), with the other candidates at less than 2 percent and 27 percent undecided.

“Despite the dauntingly large number of candidates potentially on the New Hampshire ballot, more than half of possible Democratic primary voters are split among just four names: Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “It will be challenging for one of the lesser-known candidates to vault over Biden, two senators from neighboring states, and Buttigieg, the youthful alternative with great momentum, given their respective bases—even with more than one in four New Hampshire voters still undecided.”

Among LGBTQ households—a demographic known for grassroots activism and campaign financial support—Buttigieg led the field with 29 percent to Biden’s 19 percent, followed by Warren (16 percent), Harris (10 percent), and Sanders (9 percent).

Little confidence in Warren vs. Trump


Warren’s overall fourth-place standing in the New Hampshire Democratic primary poll runs counter to historical trends. Massachusetts politicians vying in an open Democratic primary—John Kennedy in 1960, Michael Dukakis in 1988, Paul Tsongas in 1992, and John Kerry in 2004—have won in New Hampshire. When non-Warren Democratic voters were asked why the Massachusetts senator wasn’t their first choice, nearly 18 percent said they think Warren can’t beat Trump; 11 percent of voters said she doesn’t excite them; 10 percent said she comes off as angry; and 9 percent said her policies are too liberal.

Biden seen as most viable against Trump


When potential Democratic primary voters were asked who they thought had the best chance to beat Trump, Biden (35 percent) came out on top, followed by Sanders (13 percent), with all other Democrats at less than 5 percent.

Social issues


More than 60 percent of voters said they would be dissatisfied with a presidential candidate who thinks the United States should follow a more socialist path.

Yet a majority of the Democrats polled favored policies that some see as having a socialist flavor: higher taxes on the wealthy (82 percent), Medicare for All (76 percent), free higher education (60 percent) and the Green New Deal (53 percent).

Republican matchups


Trump trounced three potential Republican opponents in a ballot test and handily defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld in a one-on-one scenario. Trump (70 percent) led former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (9 percent) and Weld (8 percent), with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan at less than 1 percent and 12 percent undecided. In a head-to-head matchup, Trump (72 percent) led Weld (17 percent), with 10 percent undecided.

“With the security of numbers like these, some moderate/conservative undeclared voters favorable to Trump could opt to vote in the Democratic primary in the hope of wreaking havoc,” said Paleologos.

Trump trails against generic Democrat


Trump shows strength in hypothetical Republican primary ballot tests, but he trails slightly in a generic general election assessment. When all likely voters were asked whom they would vote for in November 2020, 43 percent said they would vote for the Democratic nominee; 40 percent would vote for Trump; 6 percent would vote for a third-party candidate; and 11 percent were undecided.

History of Suffolk research in New Hampshire


In the 2016 presidential election, the final Suffolk University poll predicted a 42 percent-42 percent dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Trump. Clinton won by 0.4 percent. In the 2014 New Hampshire general election, the final Suffolk University poll predicted a 3-point win for Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen over Republican Scott Brown; Shaheen won by 3 percent.

Methodology


The statewide survey of 800 likely general election voters was conducted April 25 – April 28, 2019, using live telephone interviews and a split sample of landline and cell phone numbers. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points. The margin of error on the subset of 429 Democratic presidential primary ballot takers and possible ballot takers is +/- 4.7 percentage points. The margin of error on the subset of 394 Republican presidential primary ballot takers and possible ballot takers is +/- 4.9 percentage points. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.