(CN) – As Iowa prepares to hold the first presidential nomination contest next week, a new poll shows most Democratic voters are satisfied with the field of candidates and look forward to the general election against President Donald Trump.
In a Pew Research Center survey this month of 10,491 adults – a little more than half of whom were Democratic voters – 64% of Democrats said they had a good or excellent impression of their party’s contenders, and 82% said they were looking forward to November’s election.
However, respondents were more split on their candidate of choice for the Democratic nomination. Former Vice President Joe Biden took the top spot with 26% support among Democratic voters, while Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., followed closely behind at 21%.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also scored double digits in the Pew poll, with the support of 16% of Democrats. Former Mayors Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg as well as entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., failed to crack 10% in the survey.
Researchers also asked Democratic voters about candidates’ political strategy once in office. For example, most want a Democratic president to find "common ground with Republicans on policies, even if it means giving up some things Democrats want."
Majorities of those who support Biden, Bloomberg, Warren and Buttigieg support this idea, though Warren's supporters hold the smallest majority at 53%. In contrast, 54% of Sanders supporters want the president to focus on “pushing hard for policies Democrats want, even if it makes it much harder to get things done."
Democrats were also divided on foreign policy questions between supporters of various candidates. Majorities of Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren supporters said that "it would be acceptable if another country became as militarily powerful as the U.S." at 56%, 59% and 65%, respectively. In contrast, just 40% of both Bloomberg and Biden supporters found that idea acceptable.
Democrats indicated an overall ambivalence toward billionaires like Trump and Bloomberg, with 56% who said that billionaire wealth was neither a good nor a bad thing. Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg backers were the most supportive of billionaires at 14%. By contrast, 55% of Sanders supporters said that billionaire wealth is a bad thing for the country, and a 49% plurality of Warren supporters agreed.
Researchers also stratified Democratic voters ideologically, and they found that conservative Democrats were most supportive of Biden at 30%. In contrast, Democrats who identified themselves as very liberal were most supportive of Sanders and Warren at 38% and 30%, respectively.
Exploring demographics, Biden was most popular amongst black Democrats at 36% and Democrats over 65 at 39%. The former vice president also polled highest among various Christian denominations, especially black Protestants at 44%. Voters between 18 and 29 and Hispanics supported Sanders the most among age and racial groups at 40% and 30%, respectively. Warren was most popular among post-graduate Democrats at 28%.
Despite their differences, however, enthusiasm among Democrats is high heading into the 2020 election. The 64% who have a good or excellent impression of the candidates is well above the same measurement from 2004, 1992 and 1998. Only 2008 had a higher ranking, when 78% said the Democratic candidates were good or excellent.
Further, 54% of Democratic voters say they are excited about several candidates in the primary.
Though personalities and identity inevitably make an impact on voters' impressions of the candidates during an election cycle, the survey data indicates that nuanced ideological differences affected each respondent's candidate of choice.
Those who sought bipartisanship and affirmed American exceptionalism were more likely to support candidates like Biden, Bloomberg and Buttigieg. Those who seek a more level military playing field with our allies and who want policies championed by the liberal wing of the party were more supportive of candidates like Sanders and Warren.
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