While much of the attention in post-debate polling has focused on the drop of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders’ polling looks far worse. Sanders’ Iowa and national polls are quite weak for someone with near universal name recognition.
History has not been kind to primary runner-ups of previous primaries polling this low of a position. I went back and looked at where 13 previous runner-ups since 1972 have been polling at this point in the primary. All six who went on to win the nomination were polling above Sanders’ 15%.
Indeed, we can widen it out and see how perilous Sanders’ position is. Among all well-known candidates, only 9% polling at between 10% and 20% at this point went onto win the nomination.
It doesn’t seem like there is a reservoir of support available for Sanders either. A mere 6% of likely caucusgoers say he is their second choice. All told, only 14% list him as a first or second choice.
Now, it’s not as if Sanders is disliked. According to our CNN Poll, Sanders still overwhelmingly holds a positive rating from Democrats nationwide.
The problem for Sanders is that there are a slew of alternatives. Warren has co-opted much of Sanders’ message. Additionally, Harris seems to hold her own among liberals as well. Neither Harris nor Warren have to deal with the stench of the nasty 2016 primary.
The good news for Sanders is that he has a ton of money. He raised another $18 million in the second quarter of 2019. Sanders also has a lot of fervent supporters. That means it’ll be difficult to run him from the race.
That base looks to be not that large, though. We’ve obviously got a long way to go, but Sanders 2020 looks to be in major, major trouble.
This story has been updated with additional polling Wednesday morning.