By Kunle Adedoyin
A nationwide Fox News poll released Sunday shows President Donald Trump trailing former vice president Joe Biden and no fewer than four other Democratic contenders as early campaigning for the 2020 election begins to gain steam.
A separate survey of battleground states, by CBS, shows Democrats strongly favour Biden as the candidate most likely to beat Trump in next year’s elections.
The Fox poll showed Biden leading Trump by 49 per cent to 39 per cent among all registered voters nationwide, while Senator Bernie Sanders held nearly the same advantage over the president, at 49 per cent to 40 per cent.
Holding edges of 1 or 2 points over Trump — albeit within the poll’s 3-point margin of error — were Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, as well as Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana.
The polling comes more than 500 days before the November 3, 2020 election, an eternity in the political world. One widely viewed tweet this week shows five presidential candidates in recent decades who trailed at this point in their campaigns — including Trump — but who went on to win.
The president does not officially launch his re-election campaign until Tuesday, at a rally-style event in a huge arena in Orlando, Florida.
Still, the Fox poll, conducted June 9 to June 12, is seen as heartening by Democrats eager to chip away at Trump’s popularity, particularly in key battleground states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump’s campaign recently dismissed leaked data from its own pollsters showing Biden with double-digit leads in battleground states. The campaign at first denied the data, but then acknowledged it, branding it as “ancient” because it dated from March.
But the new CBS poll confirms a clear Biden lead in battleground states among Democratic voters, as the crowded race for that party’s nomination begins to take shape.
A belief among Democratic voters that Biden is best positioned to defeat Trump in 2020 was cited by three-quarters of Democrats as a decisive factor in their support.
The CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker survey, conducted May 31 to June 12, said Biden had the backing of 31 per cent of Democratic primary voters in 18 key early-voting states.
Biden was trailed by senators Elizabeth Warren (17 per cent), Sanders (16 per cent) and Kamala Harris (10 per cent).
The poll, with a 1.5 per cent margin of error, looked at states including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — which hold primary elections in February, at the top of the electoral calendar — as well as states in the upper Midwest, where Trump eked out narrow but decisive victories in 2016.
Elizabeth Warren has been steadily rising in the polls, only recently reaching statistical equivalency with Sanders, whose support has been slipping.
Sanders acknowledged on Sunday that “polls go up and polls go down” but insisted that the survey showed he was the strongest candidate to defeat Trump.
“I think we can win in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan and some of the other battleground states,” the self-styled democratic socialist said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Democrats begin more earnestly winnowing down their field of nearly two dozen candidates when they hold successive nights of televised debates on June 26 and 27.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old New Yorker who has emerged as a heroine to young progressives, suggested Sunday that Democrats could be in trouble in 2020 if they fail to nominate an energizing candidate with a working-class appeal.
She said she would support the 76-year-old Biden if he wins the nomination but added on ABC that “we have to really factor in the enthusiasm of voters … an issue that we had in 2016.”
“We need to pick a candidate that’s going to be exciting to vote for — all people, women, people of all genders, races, income levels.”
But the Fox poll found that Democratic voters, by roughly three-to-one, wanted a nominee who would provide “steady, reliable leadership” rather than a “bold new agenda.”