Joe Biden rebounds, Kamala Harris drops in new poll

After support ballooned in June, California Sen. Harris dropped back down to just 5 percent in August

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake on Friday August 9, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Former Vice President Joe Biden rebounded in the latest 2020 Democratic presidential primary poll conducted by CNN and SSRS, after his numbers appeared to be sagging earlier this summer.

Nearly one in three Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters said they back Biden among the field of candidates fighting for the party nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.

Biden’s 29 percent support among potential Democratic voters is up 7 percent from a similar poll conducted in June, when he garnered just 22 percent of the potential primary electorate.

Meanwhile, support for California Sen. Kamala Harris, who saw a boost to her share of support among Democrats after the first primary debates in June, regressed in the latest CNN poll, conducted via live phone interviews from August 15 through 18 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults.

The first-term California senator rocketed to 17 percent support in the June poll on the heels of the first Democratic primary debate, where she lit into Biden for his past friendly relations with segregationist Democratic senators from the South. She also called out Biden for his opposition to forced busing to integrate American school systems, from which Harris says she benefited.

But the California senator’s support dropped back to just 5 percent among Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters in the latest CNN poll, which has a margin of error of +/-6.1 percent among that subset.

That figure puts her roughly even with South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has hovered around 5 percent support in the CNN poll for most of the cycle since he announced his campaign.

Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have consistently polled the closest to Biden this summer. Fifteen percent of the potential Democratic voters surveyed in the latest CNN poll said they support Sanders, while 14 percent said they support Warren.

Most Democratic or Democratic-leaning voters in the poll — 54 percent — said their top priority for 2020 is choosing a candidate who can beat Trump in a general election. Biden paced the other Democratic candidates among that group, capturing 34 percent support from them.

Harris, the only person of color who has consistently polled among the top five candidates in recent polls, did not appear to receive a boost in the poll from non-white voters. Biden received support from 29 percent of non-white likely Democratic primary voters, while Harris received 7 percent support.

Harris still has a pathway to relevance.

Eighteen percent of the Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters surveyed in the CNN poll said that while Harris may not have their support at the moment, they want to hear more about her.

Only Warren, at 20 percent, had a higher share of that category.

The CNN survey released Tuesday is one of the polls used by the Democratic National Committee to determine who qualifies for debates.

By polling at 2 percent in the CNN poll, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro became the 10th candidate to qualify for a spot on the next debate stage in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 12 and 13.

Joining Castro will be Harris, Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Billionaire Tom Steyer and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard have reached the 130,000-donor threshold to qualify for the debate stage but have not yet received at least 2 percent support in the requisite number of polls.

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