UMass poll: Former VP Joe Biden leads among likely Democratic presidential primary voters in New Hampshire

Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren trail behind the former vice president


(Collegian file photo)

By Jackson Cote, Collegian Staff

Former Vice President Joe Biden has yet to announce a presidential bid for 2020, but he is already the preferred candidate among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, according to a new University of Massachusetts poll.

Twenty-eight percent of those polled said they would support Biden, the 47th vice president of the U.S. and a former senator from Delaware, in a Democratic presidential primary.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who ran for president in 2016 and announced his 2020 candidacy last week, trailed behind Biden at 20 percent. Following Sanders was California Sen. Kamala Harris at 14 percent and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at nine percent. Both Harris and Warren have also announced their presidential candidacies.

Fourteen percent of voters said they were undecided.

“With a roster full of fresh, young faces vying to be the Democratic Party’s nominee, New Hampshire’s Democratic primary voters seem more comfortable handing the reins to a seasoned veteran,” Tatishe Nteta, an associate professor of political science and director of the UMass Poll, said in a statement. “While early, our results suggest that this race is Joe Biden’s for the taking. The question is whether he wants it or not.”

The poll, released last week, was conducted by the Department of Political Science at UMass and drew from a sample of 600 registered voters in New Hampshire, 337 of whom were likely to vote Democratic.

The poll also shows Biden receiving the strongest support among likely Democratic voters who identified as moderates, 39 percent of whom said they would vote for him, according to the poll.

“Almost 40 percent of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters think Biden has the best shot at winning,” Raymond La Raja, professor of political science and associate director of the UMass Poll, said in a statement. “No one else comes close.”

“This appears truer among women than men,” he added, “which is surprising given the field of qualified women candidates.”

The poll also asked if voters would be willing to support a different candidate. Eighty-two percent said they would support another candidate with Harris topping the list of second choices at 28 percent, followed by Biden at 26 percent, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey at 24 percent, Warren at 22 percent and Sanders at 21 percent.

“The California candidate, Kamala Harris, may not be very well known to the New Hampshire electorate yet, but voters are clearly taking her seriously as a potential second choice if their first doesn’t win,” La Raja said.

Jackson Cote can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.