(CN) — Almost a third of Democratic voters switched their candidate support at some point during the primary according to a new poll released Thursday, while most Democrats are excited about former Vice President Joe Biden potentially picking a woman of color to be his running mate.
With the Democratic nomination contest all but settled and Biden set to officially accept his party’s nomination this August, a new Monmouth University poll conducted over 2,000 post-primary interviews with Democrats who cast primary or caucuses ballots.
The goal was to not only better understand how these voters made their voting decisions during the primary campaign, but also to gauge their enthusiasm and feelings for the general election ahead.
The poll found that while the majority of voters ending up sticking with their initial candidate to support during the campaign, many voters found themselves switching to another candidate’s camp at some point before the primary contest was over. Around one-third (32%) say the candidate they supported before the campaign started was not the candidate they ultimately voted for.
The two final frontrunners of the Democratic primary race, Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, were able to maintain reasonably consistent support throughout the campaign, however, potentially explaining how they were both able to perform as well as they did.
Of the voters who initially supported Biden, 66% of them ended up actually casting Biden ballots. About two-in-10 ended up voting for someone else, while 9% say that they didn’t vote at all.
The story was largely the same for Sanders, who saw 68% of his voters stay with him throughout the race and 22% flock to other candidates. Only 8% of early Sanders supporters say they ultimately chose not to cast a primary vote.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also saw strong rates of voter retention during his run, while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar saw slightly less voter loyalty.
What ultimately separated many of the candidates was who a voter chose to turn to after separating from their original candidate.
Nearly half of Klobuchar’s final voter base ended up being voters who broke for her in the late stages of the race, while around a third of Biden, Buttigieg and Warren voters ended up being late-stage converts.
It was in this regard that Sanders saw the least amount of positive movement. Only 26% of his final voters were late-stage converts, ultimately resulting in Sanders receiving the least amount of crossover voters in the entire field.
Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said that these numbers may help us to better understand how Sanders ultimately lost his primary bid despite some strong performances in the earlier stages.
“Bernie Sanders probably had the most loyal base in the entire field, but he also attracted the fewest converts. This is a major reason why he quickly lost ground once other contenders dropped out of the race,” Murray said with the release of the poll.
Biden, meanwhile, found that more voters from multiple blocs of the party ultimately ended up flocking to his side.
The poll found that nearly a third of voters who defected from Sanders ended up in Biden’s camp, an arguably surprising outcome given the different ideological sides Biden and Sanders took up in their party.
Murray suggests that this ability to reach voters from all across the party helps to show just how murky the party’s ideological divides became as the primary contests continued.
“While Biden certainly had key demographic blocs comprising his base, he did pick up support from all corners of the Democratic electorate as the campaign rolled along. There were a number of defined ‘lanes’ in this race but the boundaries between them were a little bit blurry,” Murray said.
With the Democratic primary race essentially wrapped, the poll also sought to discover how voters feel regarding the final results.
While the majority of voters say they are satisfied with how things ended up, only around a third of them say they are enthusiastic about it. Another 11% of voters say they would like to see a new candidate picked at their party’s convention this year, with Sanders voters being among those most likely to want a new candidate.
Regardless on how they feel on the primary’s outcome, a notable majority of voters say they are hoping Biden will pick a woman of color to be his VP. About six-in-10 voters think that a woman of color as Biden’s running mate would increase their chances of victory come this November. Just 5% think it would hurt the ticket’s odds.
After voters were informed that Biden’s VP pick would be a woman, the woman most voters gravitated towards was California Senator Kamala Harris. Nearly three-in-10 voters say Harris would be Biden’s best choice, while Warren takes up a slightly distant second with 13%.
Rounding out the top slots are Klobuchar at 12%, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams at 10% and Florida Congresswoman Val Demings at 7%.
Murray said that these numbers help to clearly show just how many Democratic voters support this course regarding Biden’s choice for vice president.
“Voters are not the best strategists, but the nominee has to be attentive to his base. And a lot of Democratic voters think having a woman of color on the ticket would be a home run,” Murray said.