In my last round of interviews with Democratic activists in early-primary states, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, at long last, seemed to be getting traction. Forty-eight percent (14 of 29 activists I interviewed) said they were either supporting her or considering supporting her. However, the most recent results suggest that has changed. Activists still haven’t coalesced around any one candidate, but former Vice President Joe Biden has made gains in this survey.
This is now the seventh installment of my series about the preferences of Democratic activists in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Washington, DC.1 I’ve been interviewing early-state activists on who they are committed to — or considering supporting — in 2020 as part of my upcoming book, which will look at how the Democratic Party has changed since 2016. In addition to finding out about their candidate preferences, I’ve been asking these activists who they thought other Democrats in their community might be leaning toward and who they don’t want to see as the nominee.
Thirty-one activists responded to my latest survey, and 18 of them have declared their support for a candidate, up from 15 of 29 activists in October. Only one activist I interviewed switched their allegiance from one active candidate to another since the last round.2 However, one of the newly committed activists was actually recommitting to a candidate she had backed in a previous round: former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. (She withdrew her support in October when she felt his campaign was going nowhere, but she’s now backing him again, as she feels he has a strong platform and is impressed that he is “unapologetically progressive.”)
Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar has picked up her first two committed supporters in this round. One of them was previously undecided, and the other had previously been backing former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. One of Klobuchar’s new supporters cited her Midwestern connections and her “moderate, pragmatic” style as a reason for supporting her, adding that Klobuchar was also appealing because she was “plain-spoken and direct [and a] good communicator.”
Overall, in this group of 31 activists, Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the pack with four activists committed to backing him. Warren and Sen. Cory Booker have three each, while Biden, Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg each have two, and Castro and Sen. Michael Bennet each have one.
But this still left 13 activists uncommitted. So as in previous rounds of this survey, I also asked those who were uncommitted to tell me who they were considering supporting.