New Poll Shows Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Closing In on Joe Biden's Lead

Democratic Presidential Candidates Participate In Third Debate In Houston
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on stage during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University's Health and PE Center on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Sanders and Warren have gained in recent polls, putting Biden's status as the favorite for the Democratic nomination at risk. Win McNamee/Getty

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are giving current 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden chase as the trio pull away from the rest of the Democratic pack and solidify their respective leads in the race for the party's nomination.

At 25 percent, 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively, Biden, Warren and Sanders are leagues ahead of the next cohort of Democratic candidates, according to an Emerson College poll released Tuesday.

The results of the latest poll break with earlier numbers, awarding the former vice president one of the smallest leads he has earned since he entered the 2020 race last spring. It also reflects a trend that has developed over the last few months: the ascent of Warren, an unabashed progressive who has made her leftward, structural proposals and policy acumen hallmarks of her campaign.

Biden has dropped six points among primary voters since August, while Warren has gained eight points and Sanders' support has held relatively steady. The three are now within the margin of error of each other, according to the Emerson poll. Being within the margin of error of one another means that the three candidates' scores were so close together that statisticians cannot say with certainty that their rankings relative to one another would stay the same with a different group of poll respondents—or with voters.

The leading candidates (along with their less competitive counterparts) will face off once again at the fourth Democratic debate in October. In order to qualify for the next debate, candidates had to achieve a polling threshold of 2 percent in at least four qualifying polls and receive the support of at least 130,000 unique donors. The requirements for the following debate in November were recently adjusted by the Democratic National Committee to have an even more restrictive pair of thresholds, potentially walling off most of the 2020 field.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to announce a formal inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump Tuesday evening, her caucus may be facing stronger headwinds in challenging the president than in months prior, when she had traditionally been a skeptic of invoking the chamber's impeachment powers.

"President Trump's overall approval has hit his highest point since February 2017 with a 48% approval and 47% disapproval—up from August where the President had an approval rating of 43% and disapproval rating of 52%," the Emerson poll noted.

As Biden, Warren and Sanders enjoy an unmatched level of support among Democratic voters, the next-highest candidates now sit in the single digits. Senator Kamala Harris, who—after her performance during the first Democratic debates in June—saw her numbers rise to the top tranche of candidates, now sits in sixth place. Both entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg scored slightly higher than her. Like the top tier of candidates, Buttigieg, Yang and Harris are polling within the margin of error of each other.

All of the other candidates were polling at 2 percent or less. While the Emerson poll is still an outlier, it nonetheless does not bode well for the candidacies of lesser-known Democrats, save for Yang, who managed to break through the scrum with his fourth-place placement at 8 percent.