Monmouth Poll: Booker maintains low support, but on the rise

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is maintaining low support among Democratic voters nationwide, but is up two percentage points from June, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll.

Coming in as the front runners are Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.

The poll found a nearly three-way tie among Sanders (20%), Warren (20%) and Biden (19%) in the presidential nomination preferences of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters throughout the country. Compared to Monmouth’s June poll, an increase in support is seen for Sanders (up from 14%) and Warren (up from 15%) and a drop is noted for Biden (down from 32%).

Results for the rest of the field, which includes 24 potential contenders, is fairly stable.

They include California Sen. Kamala Harris (8%, same as June), Booker (4% current, 2% June), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (4% current, 5% June), entrepreneur Andrew Yang (3% current, 2% June), former cabinet secretary Julian Castro (2% current, <1% June), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (2% current, 3% in June), and author Marianne Williamson (2% current, 1% June). Support for the remaining 14 candidates in the poll received less than 1% or were not selected by any respondents.

“The main takeaway from this poll is that the Democratic race has become volatile.  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,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.  He added, “It’s important to keep in mind this is just one snapshot from one poll.  But it does raise warning signs of increased churning in the Democratic nomination contest now that voters are starting to pay closer attention.”

The poll found at least 2-in-3 Democratic voters can now recognize the names of 11 candidates it has been tracking in terms of voter favorability since January.

The poll also asked voters to rate the candidates.

Biden has the top positive rating at 66% favorable and 25% unfavorable, followed by Sanders (64%-24%) and Warren (65%-13%). Those with slight improvements to their ratings include Booker at 49% favorable and 14% unfavorable (from 41%-13% in May), Buttigieg at 43% favorable and 14% unfavorable (from 35%-11% in May) and Yang at 24% favorable and 12% unfavorable (from 12%-13% in May).

On the issue of health care, 58% of party voters say it is very important to them that the Democrats nominate someone who supports “Medicare for All.” About 23% say it is somewhat important, 10% say it is not important and 9% are unsure.

“We asked the public option question in our Iowa poll earlier this month and got a lot of flak from Medicare for All advocates who claim that polls show widespread support for their idea.  It seems from these results, though, the term has a wide range of meanings among Democratic voters. Many conflate the public-only program name with a public option.  There is a lot more nuance in public opinion on this issue that could become problematic for proponents as voters become more familiar with what Medicare for All actually entails,” said Murray.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Aug. 16-20 with 800 participants. Results, which have a +/-5.7 percentage point margin of error, are based on 298 registered voters who identify as Democrat or Democratic-leaning.