Nearly Every Democratic Candidate Would Face Tight Race Against Donald Trump, Early 2020 Poll Indicates

While President Donald Trump has spent a fair bit of his tenure with approval ratings below 50 percent, a poll out this week indicates that most of the 2020 potential Democratic candidates would face a tight race against the president.

An Emerson College survey of U.S. registered voters found that of the top potential 2020 Democratic challengers who might face Trump, only former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to announce he is running, holds a relatively wide lead on Trump, at 55 percent to Trump's 45 percent. The leads of the other candidates fall within the margin of error.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both have leads of 51 percent to Trump's 49 percent, and Senator Kamala Harris leads 52 percent to Trump's 48 percent. Former Representative Beto O'Rourke, who just entered the race, trails Trump at 49 percent to Trump's 51 percent.

Still, it's early.

"I expect a lot of movement," Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson College Polling, told Newsweek on Wednesday. "As I tell our students, [former New York City Mayor Rudy] Giuliani at this point was going to be the Republican candidate in 2008."

"It seems a lot of candidates have entered the field earlier than normal," Kimball said later. "We're going to see people drop out and with that votes will shift."

The Emerson College poll surveyed 1,153 registered votes from March 17 through March 18. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, which means every Democratic candidate's lead over Trump—excluding Biden's—fell within the margin of error in the survey.

donald trump 2020 vs democrats poll
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at Florida International University on February 18, in Miami. An early 2020 poll shows Trump would pose a tough challenge for nearly every Democratic candidate. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The survey further found that among Democratic primary voters, Biden and Sanders were the front-runners, each garnering 26 percent support. They were followed by Harris (12 percent); O'Rourke (11 percent); Warren (8 percent); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (3 percent); and Senator Cory Booker (3 percent).

The margin of error for the results among Democratic voters was higher at plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, considering the sample size, 487 voters, was smaller.

The field of Democratic candidates has continued to expand, and it is far too early to predict what might happen in the 2020 election. As it stands, Kimball chalked much of the results up to name recognition. But there are takeaways to be had.

"That Sanders coalition that came together, it's still there in 2020," Kimball said. "He's got a strong base, and if we take any lesson way from 2016 it's that a strong base can take you through the nominating process."

But while Trump remains relatively unpopular—his approval rating in the FiveThirtyEight daily tracker registered at 41.6 percent on Wednesday—early signs indicate he'll have a fighting shot a re-election come November 2020.

Kimball noted that Trump, despite his popularity struggle, is bolstered by a strong economy. But that's not necessarily a good thing for the president—because what if there's a downturn?

"To me that's a concern for Trump," Kimball said. "The economy is roaring and it's [still] competitive."

Correction (3.21.19 - 11:45 a.m. EDT): An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Rudy Giuliani.

Nearly Every Democratic Candidate Would Face Tight Race Against Donald Trump, Early 2020 Poll Indicates | U.S.
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