The 2016 Democratic field continues to be dominated by Hillary Clinton according to the latest Monmouth University Poll of Democratic voters nationwide. The recent scandal surrounding the former Secretary of State’s use of a private email account while in office has not dented her standing among Democrats. But if Clinton should decline to run, Joe Biden appears to be in pole position for the party nomination with Elizabeth Warren nipping at his heels.
Among those Democrats who seem to be most likely to stick a toe in the water for 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominates. She currently has the support of 60% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters nationwide. Trailing far behind are Vice President Joe Biden (16%), Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (7%), former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (2%), and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb (1%). Despite this widespread support for Clinton, half (50%) of Democratic voters would prefer to see her face an active primary challenge, compared to 41% who feel it would be better if the party united behind her early on in the nomination process. These results are little changed from a poll taken in December.
Since Clinton casts such a large shadow over the field, the Monmouth University Poll also asked Democratic voters who they would support in a “what if” Hillary-less primary contest among 12 potential contenders. In this hypothetical contest, Vice Pres. Biden would lead the field with 34% of the vote, followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 18% and Sen. Bernie Sanders at 8%. No other name registers more than 5% support – including Gov. Martin O’Malley (4%), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (4%), Sen. Jim Webb (3%), former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (3%), New Jersey Senator Cory Booker (3%), and New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (2%). The remainder earn 1% or less of the Democratic vote, including West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, and former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.
“Clinton remains the odds-on favorite, but many Democrats feel the race would be more interesting if other contenders decided to throw their hats into the ring,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ. “So far, Clinton’s quest for the Democratic nomination has hardly been nicked by the email controversy.”
Currently, 76% of Democratic voters have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton while just 16% hold an unfavorable view. This represents only a slight decline from her 82% favorable to 11% unfavorable standing in December, before news broke about her use of a private email account and server when she was Secretary of State.
Joe Biden earns a 65% favorable to 22% unfavorable rating among Democrats. This marks a significant improvement over his 46% favorable to 32% unfavorable rating four months ago. Elizabeth Warren, who is making her first appearance in Monmouth’s poll, also holds a solid 47% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating among voters in her own party.
Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb are less well-known among Democratic voters. Sanders has a 30% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating, O’Malley has a 21% favorable to 12% unfavorable rating, and Webb has a 14% favorable to 18% unfavorable rating.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from March 30 to April 2, 2015 with 1,005 adults in the United States. This release is based on a voter sample of 356 registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. This voter sample has a margin of error of + 5.2 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.