Democrats Happy With Choices of 2020 Hopefuls, Poll Finds

Democratic presidential candidates wave as they enter the stage for the second night of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News on June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(CN) – Most Democratic voters feel satisfied with their party’s field of 2020 presidential candidates, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday, as early attention to next year’s race for the White House hit a 30-year high.

In a survey of 1,502 adults from July 10 to 15, researchers found that 65% of Democratic respondents had a “good” or “excellent” impression of the 2020 candidates. This majority was 1 percentage point higher than the positivity expressed toward candidates in the 2008 presidential election. The 23% of respondents who said they had an “excellent” impression of the candidates was up from 15% in September 2007.

The poll reflects a significant jump in positive views of Democratic candidates compared to the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, when 51% had a good or excellent impression of the candidates but 48% had a “fair” to “poor” impression.

Though majorities of every liberal demographic had positive impressions of the 2020 candidates, 70% or more of Democratic women, adults over 65 years old, college graduates and liberal Democrats held those views. College graduates had the most positive impressions of the candidates at 75%.

The overall attention being paid to the 2020 race is higher than any election cycle since 1988, when the question was first asked. Among all respondents, 63% said that they have been following news about the 2020 candidates at least “fairly” closely, with 31% who said they were following election news “very” closely. That’s up from 53% and 54% in the 2000 and 2016 elections, respectively.

Majorities of respondents from both parties indicated they were paying attention to the field of candidates – 64% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats said they were following news about the candidates at least fairly closely. Those numbers are up slightly from 2016, when 63% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats said the same thing.

More broadly, a majority of respondents from both parties – 52% – said they have given “a lot” of thought to the 2020 candidates. More Republicans, 55%, said they had thought a lot about the candidates, compared to 52% before the 2016 election.

Democrats were slightly less likely to say that they had given the candidates a lot of thought at 52%, but that number is up from 43% in the last presidential race.

Comparing the last four election cycles, respondents from either party have put more thought toward the 2020 election than any election year since Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Respondents thought the least about candidates in the 2012 election (24% overall), in which Obama was the incumbent.

Majorities of every measured demographic overall had thought at least “some” about the 2020 candidates, between 74% and 86%.

Conservative Democrats and those without a college degree ranked the lowest on this question at 74%. College graduates and liberal Democrats were the most likely to say that they had given the candidates at least some thought, at 83% and 86%, respectively.

The survey suggests that voters are more attuned to electoral politics than ever in recent memory. Voters tend to focus less on elections when a presidential candidate is an incumbent, but the 2020 election cycle has so far proven to be an outlier for members of both parties.

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