Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are gaining ground on Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden following their first debate, according to two major polls.
Harris has jumped into double-digits in post-debate polls of registered voters conducted by CNN and Morning Consult following her strong performance in Thursday’s debate featuring Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Harris was trailing Biden by five points in the CNN poll and moved into third place behind Biden and Sanders in the Morning Consult poll.
Meanwhile, Warren at 15% moved into third place, according to the CNN/SSRS survey, surpassing Sanders, who slid down to 14%. Warren is tied with Harris for third in the Morning Consult poll, with each candidate having 12%.
The polls now show a much tighter race in the days after the first round of debates held in Miami. The CNN poll shows Harris with 17%, a nine-point increase since CNN’s last survey in May, as Biden has lost some momentum after his performance in last week’s debate. Despite Biden remaining on top of the latest CNN poll at 22%, it’s still a 10-point drop from the 32% he had in the CNN poll in May.
Sanders, who has been in second place in most polls before Thursday’s debate, fell to fourth in the CNN poll with 14%. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in fifth with 4%.
The latest numbers mean Harris and Warren, the top two female Democratic candidates, gained 17 points in the CNN post-debate poll, while the top four male candidates, when adding former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke (who lost two points) and Buttigieg (who lost 1 point), lost 17 points overall.
Harris and Biden are now about even with support among self-identified Democrats, white voters, younger voters, and nonwhite women, according to the CNN poll. Harris, however, has a significant edge among liberal and white voters with college degrees.
Warren is a contender to Biden and Sanders among independents and tops Biden, while running even with Harris and Sanders among liberals. Warren also has similar numbers to Harris among younger voters, white voters, and whites with college degrees.
However, Biden’s strongest support continues to come among black voters and older voters. He’s also ahead of his rival candidates among more moderate and conservative Democratic voters. And, 43% of potential Democratic voters polled say Biden has the best chance to beat Trump in next year’s presidential election, 30 points ahead of his nearest competitor, Sanders.
Additionally, six in 10 potential Democratic voters in the CNN poll say it is more important to them that the party nominate a candidate with a strong chance of beating President Donald Trump than it is that they nominate someone who shares their views on major issues.
In the Morning Consult poll, Biden’s support dropped by five points, even though he remains the top choice for 33% of Democratic primary voters with having the best shot to defeat Trump.
As most of the 20 Democratic candidates participating in the two-night debate used the chance to make a first impression and gain some name recognition, Harris and Warren seized the opportunity to let voters know that they are contenders.
Harris ripped into Biden about him working prevent the Department of Education from integrating school busing more than four decades ago while he was a senator in Delaware and for his comments about working with segregationist senators.
Harris’ actions stunned Biden as many observers thought she won the debate while showing that Biden, might not be in sync with the Democratic Party’s more liberal and current stances on issues. During Thursday’s debate, California Congressman Eric Swalwell urged Biden to “pass the torch” to a new generation of candidates, echoing remarks Biden said 32 years ago.
Swalwell noted solving climate change, gun violence, and student loan debt would be ways to “pass the torch.”
Biden snapped, “I’m still holding onto that torch.”
Also, Warren, who debated on the first night with many of the lesser-known and low-polling candidates, held her own, mostly talking about topics ending the trend of breaks to large corporations, and doing real research on national problems like gun violence.