Poll: 2020 general election remains wide open

Americans are split on how they will vote in the 2020 presidential election, with only slightly more saying they plan to cast their ballots for the eventual Democratic nominee than for President Trump, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey released to The Hill. 

In total, 42 percent of respondents said they will either probably or definitely vote for the Democratic presidential candidate in next year’s general election. Slightly less — 39 percent — said they either probably or definitely plan on voting for Trump.

Eight percent said they are planning to cast their ballots for an independent or third-party candidate next year, while 10 percent said they remain undecided about their vote, the poll found.

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Despite a range of intraparty disputes over policy issues — health care and taxes, for instance — the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has so far centered around a central question: Which candidate is best positioned to defeat Trump in 2020? 

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey shows that former Vice President Joe Biden is perceived as the leading candidate on that front. Twenty-six percent of respondents said he has the best chance of winning in a head-to-head match-up against Trump in 2020. 

Only one other Democratic candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), registered in double digits — 11 percent — on that same question. The third-place finisher was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): seven percent of respondents said she has the best chance of beating Trump next year.

Another top-tier candidate, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, fared even worse in perceptions of his ability to beat Trump, with only 3 percent of respondents saying he was best positioned to take on the president in a general election match-up.

“I think there’s no question that on paper at least Biden is likely the strongest challenger and that Trump has an uphill battle to get reelected,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll. “Of course Bush and Obama seemed weak going into reelection campaigns as well and they were able to pull it out, so with a year to go, I’d call it a competitive race.” 

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“A big open issue is will the Democrats nominate a moderate or someone farther to the left,” he added. “That decision will in a close race have a big impact on who wins.” 

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey was conducted online within the U.S. among a representative sample of 1,859 registered voters between Nov. 27-29 by the Harris Poll. 

Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, marital status, household size, income, employment, education, political party and political ideology where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

The sampling margin of error of the poll is 2 percentage points.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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