DURHAM — Support for former Vice President Joe Biden has dropped since July, according to a University of New Hampshire poll released Tuesday. Biden’s support among Democratic primary voters is at the lowest point it has been during the primary cycle, the poll’s authors say.
Biden is the third-most popular Democratic candidate, as the first choice of 15% of primary voters polled last week. Twenty-four percent of voters preferred him in July.
“Our campaign is committed to putting in the hard work on the ground to win,” said Meira Bernstein, communications director of Biden’s New Hampshire campaign. “With 50 staff and 10 offices across New Hampshire, we are confident that we will have the organization to be successful on February 11.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the Democratic pack, as the first choice of 21% of Democratic primary voters, while 18% prefer Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The difference between the two is within the poll’s 4.1 percent margin of error.
On the Republican side, President Donald Trump is the first choice for 86% of Republican primary voters. The poll showed 61% of Republican primary voters said they had definitely decided on a candidate.
Just 23% of Democratic primary voters have settled on a candidate, and 57% are still making up their minds.
Support among Democratic voters has grown for Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and businessman Andrew Yang—all have the support of 5% of likely primary voters.
Name recognition is still a challenge for many candidates, but the poll found that more people have favorable opinions of Klobuchar and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker that would be expected, given the number of people who have heard of them. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and author Marianne Williamson, are less popular than would be expected given the number of likely voters who are aware of them.
Many Democratic candidates have “net favorability” — the percent of people who like them, minus the percent of people who dislike them— at or below zero percent, said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center.
“These candidates will have a very difficult time improving their polling standings,” he wrote.
Candidates with zero or negative net favorability at or below zero are Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Gabbard, O’Rourke, former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak, and Williamson.
Low or negative net favorability is a difficult position for a candidate, Smith said.
“The one person who proved that wrong was Donald Trump,” he said, whose net favorability was negative 42% in summer 2015.
Trump’s net favorability had improved by the time he won the 2016 New Hampshire primary, but Smith noted he never had positive net favorability.
The pollsters asked which issues were most important to primary voters. Democrats’ top priorities this month are health care, climate change and jobs, though there was more interest in foreign policy than there was in July. Gun policy is the top issue for just 1% of Democratic primary voters. Warren supporters were most interested in climate change. For Sanders supporters, health care is the top issue. Beating Trump is the most important thing to Biden supporters. Immigration is much less important for Republican primary voters than it was in July, when 39 percent of Republican voters said immigration was their top issue. This month immigration is the most important issue for just 12 percent of Republican voters. Jobs and the economy became the most important issues for 36 percent of Republican voters. Zero percent indicated national budget and debt was the top issue.