- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The wounds from the first Democratic presidential debate began to show Tuesday on front-runner Joseph R. Biden, but Sen. Bernard Sanders emerged as the biggest loser with tumbling poll numbers and stagnant fundraising.

Mr. Biden remained in front of the crowded field but with a narrower lead and with Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California close behind after she leapfrogged to second place, according to a post-debate national poll by Quinnipiac University.

Mr. Sanders dropped from second place to fourth in the national survey and in an Iowa poll after his steady but mostly humdrum performance on the debate stage last week in Miami.

Compounding the misery for the democratic socialist from Vermont, the Sanders campaign announced an $18 million fundraising total from the last three months. Mr. Sanders raised the same amount in just 41 days at the start of the race.

Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said the grass-roots organization was strong and the movement was not losing momentum.

“This is a movement built by working people all across this country,” he said. “Our strength is in numbers and we have a million-person movement committed to this campaign who can give over and over again.”

A day earlier, Pete Buttigieg, who enter the presidential contest as a long shot, announced a $24.8 million haul for the second quarter, with an average donation just over $47.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor raised $7 million in the first quarter, which was a respectable amount for an unknown candidate.

Mr. Sanders’ call for a “political revolution” in 2016 nearly won him the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton. This time around, he’s vying against other far-left candidates such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and more centrist contenders such as Ms. Harris and Mr. Buttigieg who have co-opted some of his socialist policies.

“It seems Sen. Sanders has a ceiling to his support while many of the other candidates, especially Sens. Harris and Warren and Mayor Buttigieg have a floor that they are building upon,” said Democratic strategist Zach Friend, a veteran of presidential campaigns for Barack Obama and John Kerry.

In the national poll, Mr. Biden dropped to 22%, down 8 points from the same poll in early June.

Ms. Harris was nipping at his heels with 20% support, within the poll’s 5-point margin of error. She had shot up from 7% in the earlier survey.

The poll illuminated the fallout from the clash between the two candidates on the debate stage in Miami, where Ms. Harris challenged Mr. Biden’s opposition to busing to desegregate public schools in the 1970s.

“Round 1 of the Democratic debates puts Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden on two different trajectories, as support for Harris surges but continues to slip for Biden,” said Mary Snow, an analyst for the Quinnipiac University poll. “Biden’s once-commanding lead has evaporated.”

She noted other red flags for Mr. Biden in areas where he still leads, such as double-digit drops in support among Democrats and Democratic leaners who view him as the best leader or as the best candidate to defeat President Trump in a general election matchup.

Ms. Warren placed third with 13%, followed by Mr. Sanders with 13%. Mr. Sanders dropped from second with 19% in the poll in early June.

Ms. Warren also placed third in the earlier poll but with a slightly better 15% support.

The Quinnipiac pollsters surveyed 554 Democrats and voters leaning Democratic nationwide.

Similar trends surfaced in a Suffolk University/USA Today poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, home of the lead-off nominating contest.

Ms. Harris jumped to second place behind Mr. Biden, while Mr. Sanders fell from second to fourth place.

Mr. Biden garnered 24% support of likely Democratic caucus-goers, followed by Ms. Harris at 16%, Ms. Warren at 13% and Mr. Sanders skidding into single-digit territory with 9%.

Ms. Harris more than doubled her support from a June poll, which had her at 7%.

The results bode well for the newcomers in the race, said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center.

“To win in Iowa, you have to be able to woo the supporters of other candidates who drop out or that don’t reach the 15% threshold at the caucus,” he said. “The poll tells us that candidates like Harris, Warren and Buttigieg poll better than Biden and Sanders in this regard, and that sets the stage for a new face exceeding expectations in Iowa.”

⦁ David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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