(CN) – The size of the field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to run against President Donald Trump spawned much hand-wringing in the early days of the campaign. But 10 months out from the Democratic Convention, the race is characterized more by consistency than volatility as former Vice President Joe Biden began the year as the front-runner and remains so as summer turns to fall.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont meanwhile has been steadily running second and continues to do so, despite losing ground to an upstart challenger.
That challenger, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, started the year in third place, swooned a bit in spring, but has incrementally gained ground to solidify her spot in the upper ranks.
Senator Kamala Harris of California, South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and even Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey have flirted with or even occupied third place for brief periods but have fallen back to the peloton.
According to a Hill-HarrisX poll released Monday, those candidates are far off the chase, with none of them mustering more than 5% support of likely Democratic voters and independents.
Such numbers take on increasing importance as the Democratic National Committee established new criteria for qualifying for the next round of Democratic debates to be held in November.
To qualify, candidates must receive at least 3% support in four national or state polls approved by the DNC.
The newly announced threshold would mean – according to Monday’s poll – Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Booker and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, among others, would not qualify for the debate.
Meanwhile, Biden appears to be consolidating his lead as he garnered 31% support, a 4-point increase from when the poll was last taken in late August.
Sanders and Warren are in a statistical dead heat at 16% and 14%, respectively. Warren has been running at or around 14% for months in the poll, but it belies her recent surge toward being a viable contender.
The Des Moines Register released a poll over the weekend showing Warren leading Biden in Iowa, the first time the senator has edged out the former vice president in any poll. Warren won 22% of the support for top choice and Biden managed 20%, meaning the candidates polled within the statistical margin of error.
But Monday’s polling shows Biden will be difficult to dislodge from the front of the pack, as his appeal with the part of the Democratic Party that skews older and more moderate remains firm.
The sampling for the Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted between Sept. 20-21 and involved 1,000 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.