Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Tie for First Place in Poll As Biden Drops 13 Percentage Points

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have surged to the top of the Democratic field after Joe Biden dropped 13 percentage points since June, according to a poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute released on Monday.

The survey shows Senators Sanders and Warren both have 20 percent support among Democrats or voters who lean Democratic, while former Vice President Biden received 19 percent support among the same. The three contenders are the only ones with double-digit support.

Warren, Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren hug after participating in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

California Senator Kamala Harris came next in the rankings, receiving 8 percent, followed by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who were both backed by 4 percent of respondents, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, with 3 percent.

The institute said Biden's decline comes, in part, from from moderate and conservative Democrats shifting support to Warren and Sanders.

"The main takeaway from this poll is that the Democratic race has become volatile," wrote institute director Patrick Murray. "Liberal voters are starting to cast about for a candidate they can identify with. Moderate voters, who have been paying less attention, seem to be expressing doubts about Biden. But they are swinging more toward one of the left-leaning contenders with high name recognition rather than toward a lesser known candidate who might be more in line with them politically."

"It's important to keep in mind this is just one snapshot from one poll," Murray added. "But it does raise warning signs of increased churning in the Democratic nomination contest now that voters are starting to pay closer attention."

The former vice president has topped polls since he entered the race in late April, raising $6.3 million online in the first 24 hours of his campaign. But other candidates offered more impressive performances during the first two Democratic debates. Biden has also made comments that have raised concerns, such as touting his work with segregationists and saying that "poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids."

Additionally, Biden's appeal seems to rest, in part, on being the challenger who has the best chance of ensuring Donald Trump doesn't win a second term.

"Your candidate might be better on, I don't know, healthcare than Joe is," Jill Biden, the former vice president's wife, said last week in New Hampshire. "But you've got to look at who's going to win this election and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, 'Okay, I personally like so and so better.' But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Donald Trump."

Analysis by CNN, published last month, showed that the "electability" argument was supported by evidence. But, as political scientist Jonathan Bernstein wrote in a New York Times opinion piece, predicting electability in the general election is difficult.