Bernie 2020
August 12, 2019

To: Interested Parties 
From: Ben Tulchin and Ben Krompak, Tulchin Research

State of the Campaign: Sanders Has Momentum Post-Debate and Is a Leading Contender for the Democratic Nomination

While you may not know it from recent media coverage, Bernie Sanders is on a positive trajectory in his campaign for president as evidenced by multiple data points. Sanders has built a formidable organization and has raised more money and has more cash on hand than any other candidate, has built an unprecedented grassroots volunteer program, delivered a widely praised performance in the second debate in Detroit, and has seen a bump in polling in recent weeks driven by an intense focus on healthcare. Notably, new independent polling analysis finds that Sanders has gained the most support of any candidate since the second round of debates and is solidly in second place among the field, affirming his standing as a leading contender for the nomination. 
Sanders’s Grassroots Campaign Leads the Field in Fundraising, Volunteer Mobilization
Running on a theme of “Not Me, Us,” Sanders has built the strongest organization of any Democratic candidate for President. Notably, Bernie 2020 has:
  • Recruited over 1 million volunteers – more than any other campaign;
  • Raised more money than any other Democratic candidate, reporting $36 million raised to-date at the end of the most recent fundraising quarter;
  • Received approximately 1.8 million individual donations on ActBlue from roughly 745,000 individual donors – by far the largest number of individual contributors to any Democratic campaign; and
  • Leads the field in cash on hand, with $27.5 million at the end of the last quarter.

While other campaigns are reliant on high-dollar contributions from wealthy donors, the average contribution to Bernie 2020 is just $19. This means nearly all of Sanders’s supporters are able to contribute again and again, making his campaign sustainable through the long primary season. A recent independent analysis by the Center for the Public Integrity and FiveThirtyEight finds that “nearly one out of every three donors who have given to any presidential campaign” have given to Sanders.

Sanders Gained the Most Support from the 2nd Debate; Solidifies 2nd Place in Recent Polling

FiveThirtyEight’s recent analysis of post-debate polling data finds that Bernie Sanders has gained the most ground of any candidate since the second debate and is currently in a clear second place among the Democratic field. FiveThirtyEight analyzed five national polls conducted entirely after the Detroit debates, compared them with pre-debate polls conducted by the same pollsters, and weighted the polls based on sample size and pollster quality ratings to arrive at pre-debate and post-debate averages for the candidates. Their analysis finds Joe Biden leading with an average in post-debate national polling of 28.4% followed by Sanders at 17.1%, Elizabeth Warren at 14.6%, Kamala Harris at 7.9%, and Pete Buttigieg at 5.4%. Sanders has gained a net +1.8 percentage points since his pre-debate polling average (15.3%), while both Biden (-1.9 points) and Harris (-2.8) lost ground. Sanders has gained more support in post-debate polling than any other candidate.
Screen Shot 2019-08-11 at 10.01.08 PM.png                                    Source: FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight’s analysis was bolstered by 11 out of 13 publicly released national polls conducted since August 1st that show Sanders in second place to Biden. Additionally, between the beginning of July and the beginning of August, Sanders moved up 2 points in the RealClearPolitics’ Poll Average.

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Championing Medicare For All, Sanders Trusted Most on Voters’ Top Priority of Health Care
Sanders’s rise in the polls follows a month of intense campaigning focusing on healthcare – an issue consistently identified as the top priority of Democratic voters and on which Sanders is the most trusted among the field according to polling. In July, Sanders gave a major speech on his Medicare For All Senate bill, battled with Biden over healthcare policy, and made a bus trip to Canada to help American patients access life-saving medicine at prices far lower than they pay at home. The month was capped by a strong performance in Detroit, where Medicare For All dominated much of the debate’s first-half.
Political analysts widely credited Sanders with a highly effective and winning debate performance. The New York Times observed that “Mr. Sanders was a forceful presence throughout the night, especially on health care, one of his signature issues” while pollster and Fox News analyst Frank Luntz asserted on Twitter in real time that “Bernie is utterly dominating the healthcare issue” and later ranked Sanders the debate’s winner as did the DailyKos. CNN’s Chris Cillizza identified Sanders as a winner of the debate noting that he “clearly outshone Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren”. Sanders effectively fended off opposition attacks on Medicare For All and delivered the most memorable line of the debate when he stated, “I wrote the damn bill,” in responding to critics of his Medicare For All plan.
A post-debate ABC News/Ipsos poll finds Democratic voters strongly prefer Sanders’s approach to healthcare over Joe Biden’s approach. Democratic primary voters were shown video clips of Sanders advocating for Medicare For All and Biden arguing for expanding the Affordable Care Act. Sanders’s health care message scored nearly twice as high as Biden’s in intensity (31% very convincing for Sanders to 18% for Biden) and it also attracted broader support as 77% found Sanders’s Medicare For All message total convincing compared to 70% for Biden.

Health care remains the top polling issue among Democrats — and recent health care-related surveys show positive trends for Sanders’s campaign. They include:

  • Polls show “Sanders has the edge on health care”: The Fiscal Times reported that polling shows “Bernie Sanders the edge over his rivals for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination when it comes to understanding and dealing with health care.” Indeed CNN, ABC/Washington Post, Reuters/Ipsos and Morning Consult polls all show Sanders is the most trusted candidate on the issue among Democratic voters.
  • Polling continues to find strong majority support for Medicare For All among all voters, not just Democratic primary voters: Recent polls show majorities of all voters – not just Democratic primary voters – support Medicare For All. These data include surveys from HarrisX (70% support), RealClear Opinion Research(65% support), Morning Consult (55% support), YouGov (52% support) and ABC News/Washington Post (52% support).
  • Polling demonstrates majority support for Medicare For All replacing private insurance: A recent RealClear Opinion Research poll found 55% support Medicare For All even when it is described as “a system that will eliminate all private health insurance companies.” A recent Morning Consult poll found 55% support Medicare For All even if it would “diminish the role of private insurers.” A recent YouGov poll found 52% support a program that would move Americans “from private insurance to the Medicare For All plan.” Tulchin Research polls of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania found Medicare For All support at majority support (+20 margin) even when voters are told that the proposal “takes away the current private health plans of millions of people.” A Business Insider poll just found that “among all respondents, 59% said they would support switching their employer-based health insurance to a government plan under Medicare for All."