Booker lags leading Dems in early 2020 poll from Monmouth, though name recognition is solid

By Eric Strauss
New Jersey | Feb 4, 2019 at 12:40 pm

A new Monmouth University Poll on the 2020 presidential election is bad news for President Donald Trump … and the news isn’t so great for New Jersey’s U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, either.

A mere 38 percent of registered voters polled support a second term for Trump, while 57 percent want someone new in the White House. While partisanship remains a factor — 79 percent of Republicans back a second term for the GOP president, while 94 percent of Democrats want someone else in office — a majority of independent voters, 55 percent, want Trump out, while only 39 percent support the incumbent.

Meanwhile, among a field of 19 announced and potential Democratic candidates for the presidency, Booker tied for sixth at a mere 4 percent of those polled. The leader in terms of support is former Vice President Joe Biden, with 29 percent support from Democratic votes, while 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont, received 16 percent support. Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, received 11 percent support, the only other candidate in double digits.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts got 8 percent support and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas — who lost a challenge to Cruz in 2018 — got 7 percent support. Then came Booker, who tied with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at 4 percent, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, at 2 percent. The other 11 candidates in the survey received 1 percent support or less.

Booker fared better among voters of color than among white Democrats, the poll found, by a score of 6 percent to 1 percent. Monmouth mentioned that the small sample size could render the differences statistically insignificant. Some 3 percent of those polled said Booker was the candidate they would least like to see win the nomination. That was well behind others, including Sanders at 10 percent, Biden, Harris, Warren and Bloomberg, and tied with O’Rourke and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Some 39 percent said there was no candidate they would least like to see, and another 9 percent said any of the 19 would be acceptable.

“As with any presidential nominating contest at this point in time, voter preferences are driven largely by name recognition,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a prepared statement. “It would be very unusual if these results don’t change substantially when we get closer to next year’s primary contests. These early polls are most useful for looking at each candidate’s profile among the party faithful to assess potential viability.”

While Democratic voters’ opinion of the candidates tended to be positive overall, name recognition ran the gamut. Biden and Sanders were best known, with nearly 9-in-10 Democrats able to provide an opinion on them, either positive or negative. About 75 percent offered a rating on Warren, 6-in-10 could rate Bloomberg and Harris, and about half could rate Booker, O’Rourke and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Booker had a +33 positivity rating, with 44 percent feeling favorably about him and 11 percent unfavorably. That equaled the figure for Harris and just edged out O’Rourke’s +32 rating. Biden had the best net rating, at +71, with Sanders at +49 and Warren at +40.

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, the poll found that a majority prefer a strong candidate over a compatible one, with 56 percent saying a chance at winning matters more than agreement on issues. Only 33 percent said agreement on issues is more important than strength as a candidate.

“In prior elections, voters from both parties consistently prioritized shared values over electability when seeking a nominee,” Murray said. “It looks like Democrats may be willing to flip that equation in 2020 because of their desire to defeat Trump. This is something to pay close attention to when primary voters really start tuning into the campaign.”

While 49 percent of Republicans see no need for a primary challenger to the president, 43 percent would like to see another Republican seek the presidency; however, Trump dominates hypothetical challengers like U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The poll was conducted by phone from Jan. 25-27 with 735 registered voters. It has a +/-3.6 percentage point margin of error.

Eric Strauss | estrauss@roi-nj.com | acerimrat