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LUNCHTIME POLITICS: Last Night’s Debate – Sanders Leads National, California Polls



Your Daily Polling Update for  Wednesday, February 26


Same as yesterday

RON’S COMMENT: Today’s average is based on four polls, ranging from 43% (Reuters) to 51% (Rasmussen). Without these extremes, the average is 45%…. President Trump’s disapproval rating averages 52% today (+2 from yesterday), which is 6 points higher than his approval rating.


by Ron Faucheux

While each candidate is doing what he or she thinks is necessary to win the nomination, the atmospherics of last night’s slugfest––attacks, bickering, shouting, stale sound bites––were not helpful to Democrats for the general election.

    • Bernie Sanders was the target. He finally got a taste of multiple attackers going at him. Elizabeth Warren contrasted against the Vermont senator and Joe Biden tore into him on gun control. Pete Buttigieg stoked fears of a divisive Sanders vs. Trump general election fight, one representing the 50s and one the 60s. While Sanders didn’t hurt himself with existing supporters, he didn’t do anything to quell fears about his “socialist” label or past comments about authoritarian Communist and socialist regimes.


    • Bloomberg was able to repair some of the damage he did to himself in the first debate. The positive points he made about his tenure as mayor of New York were good, but need to be further developed. He looked better, was more engaged and his comments on a range of issues were appealing to centrists and moderate liberals. His prepared witticisms fell flat, but people don’t support him because of his comedic talents.


    • Elizabeth Warren has adjusted her campaign strategy multiple times, and it shows. Last night, she framed the race as a choice between her and Sanders––two progressives, one effective and electable and one not. The problem is that effectiveness and electability are not her strong suits. She went after Bloomberg again, but this time Bloomberg defended himself. She needs to bridge Sanders to her left and moderates to her right, but she hasn’t been able to get there.


    • Joe Biden held up well. He was forceful, though sometimes unnecessarily so. He focused on messages that were appealing to South Carolina, a “must win” primary for him. The former VP allowed his irritability to show over timekeeping issues. He continues to lack a forward-looking message.


    • Pete Buttigieg turned in a strong performance, although he starts sounding canned when he repeats his memorable lines. He went after Sanders more effectively than did his rivals.


    • Amy Klobuchar tried hard, but didn’t get anywhere.


  • Tom Steyer has put a lot of chips on South Carolina and is feeling the pressure. He showed too many flashes of anger.


Among Democratic primary voters nationwide

Bernie Sanders: 30%
Joe Biden: 20%
Elizabeth Warren: 16%
Michael Bloomberg: 11%
Pete Buttigieg: 9%
Amy Klobuchar: 4%
Tulsi Gabbard: 4%
Candidates with 1% or less not listed

RON’S COMMENT: This poll was taken after last week’s debate but before last night’s debate. It has Sanders leading the field with Biden second and Warren third. It shows that Klobuchar, who seemed to have potential after New Hampshire, has not caught on nationally. Buttigieg is stuck in fifth place.


Among Democratic voters in each state

California Primary
Bernie Sanders: 36%
Elizabeth Warren: 18%
Joe Biden: 10%
Pete Buttigieg: 9%
Michael Bloomberg: 5%
Amy Klobuchar: 4%
Tom Steyer: 3%
Tulsi Gabbard: 2%

RON’S COMMENT: This California poll was taken after last week’s debate and before last night’s debate. It’s great news for Sanders and terrible news for Biden, who once led the state, and Bloomberg, who has sunk millions into the primary. A big victory here would give Sanders a huge delegate advantage. The primary is March 3 for 415 delegates

North Carolina Primary
Bernie Sanders: 20%
Michael Bloomberg: 20%
Joe Biden: 20%
Elizabeth Warren: 9%
Amy Klobuchar: 6%
Pete Buttigieg: 3%

RON’S COMMENT:  A three-way tie at the top. This North Carolina poll was taken after last week’s debate and before last night’s debate. The primary is March 3 for a large haul of 110 delegates


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Presidential job rating average based on recent nationwide polls.
NORTH CAROLINA: Civitas, Feb. 23-24

Lunchtime Politics is owned and published by Ron Faucheux, Chief Analyst at Certus Insights. For interviews or speeches about polling and political trends, contact Dr. Faucheux at

The publisher of this report cannot attest to the reliability or methodology of surveys that it does not conduct.

Copyright 2020 Ronald A. Faucheux
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Ron Faucheux

Dr. Faucheux is a nationally respected public opinion analyst with a unique background in public policy and legislative research, public communications and message strategies. He combines professional competence with pragmatic problem solving skills.