- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2019

President Trump is leading his potential 2020 Democratic rivals in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups, according to new polling that shows a degree of “candidate loyalty” among the Democratic contenders that could cap their potential voter pools in a general election.

Mr. Trump held a 3-point, 44% to 41% lead over former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and led Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont by about 5 points, 44% to 39%, according to the USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released Monday.

Mr. Trump led Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts by about 8 points, 45% to 37% and he led Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, by about 10 points, 43% to 33%. The president led former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg by about 9 points, 43% to 34%.

The question gave respondents an option of choosing a third-party candidate, and the percentage of those choosing third-party was in the double digits — likely higher than what the final tally will be in November 2020.

But the poll underscores the “massive impact” third-party candidates could have in 2020 and offers a “statistical signal of concern” for the Democratic party, said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

He said Mr. Biden received 80% support from Democratic primary voters and caucus-goers, while the remaining 20% said they would either vote for a third party, vote for Mr. Trump, or were still undecided.

“Among voters favoring the top five Democratic candidates, less than 90 percent would support any of the other four front-runners if they became the Democratic nominee,” he said. “This finding holds even among those who also stated outright that they dislike President Trump.”

For example, 74% of Mr. Sanders‘ supporters who dislike Mr. Trump would vote for Mr. Buttigieg if he were the Democratic nominee, and 70% would vote for Mr. Bloomberg.

“The data … shows that a different dynamic is emerging — party loyalty has been replaced to a degree by candidate loyalty,” Mr. Paleologos said. “That’s the binary choice that is being made by voters in the 2020 election.”

The poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken Dec. 10-14 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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