CNN's latest poll on 2020 Democrats

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9:28 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Is Elizabeth Warren moving up or not? How CNN's poll differs from others

This new CNN/SSRS poll is the third live interview poll taken since the CNN debates in late July. Fox News and Quinnipiac University have also polled the race. Each new poll, of course, is likely to give a slightly different answer to who Democrats nationwide want as the Democratic nominee.

What is clear from all three polls is that former Vice President Joe Biden leads the Democratic race. He's at 29% in our poll, 31% in Fox News' poll and 32% in Quinnipiac's poll.

What's less clear is who is second place. Fox and Quinnipiac have Sen. Elizabeth Warren in second at 20% and 21% respectively. We have Warren in third at 14%. Furthermore, we show no movement for the Massachusetts Democrat since the second debate, while the other two have her up more than 5 points each during that same time period.

Meanwhile, we have Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in second at 15%. Fox and Quinnipiac have him at 10% and 14% respectively.

The obvious solution to the differences across polls is to average. Doing that gets you Biden 31%, Warren 18% and Sanders 13%. This would indicate that Warren is up somewhat compared to where she was before the CNN debates, but not by nearly as much as the other live interview pollsters have found.

Our CNN poll, with a margin of error of +/- 6 points, has findings within what you'd expect given a random sampling of the potential Democratic population.

6:45 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Elizabeth Warren currently has a narrow appeal

No one can doubt that Elizabeth Warren is in a much better position than she was at the beginning of the year. She is, in Chris Cillizza's and my estimation, the candidate with the second best chance of winning the Democratic nomination. The betting markets have her as the No. 1 most likely nominee.

Yet, it's worth stepping back and realizing how the Massachuset Democrat's support is concentrated in a few circles.

Warren is by far the No. 1 candidate of self-described very liberal voters. Averaging our poll this month with our last one (in which her overall standing is nearly identical), Warren takes 32% of the very liberal vote. No other candidate comes within 10 points.

Warren, however, gets only 10% among all other voters. It's not even as if it's a gradual decline as you go more toward the center. Even among somewhat liberal voters, she rings in at 13%.

The senator also seems to have a real appeal to whites with a college degree. Across our last two polls, she's averaged 22% with this group. Warren's at 11% with all other voters.

Well-educated whites and very liberal voters are likely not enough to win Warren the nomination. About 80% of potential Democratic primary voters are not very liberal, and about 70% are not whites with a college degree.

The good news for Warren is that these voters are a bigger part of the pie in Iowa, where she's running more strongly than she is nationally.

6:17 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Julián Castro qualifies for the September debates

The September debate stage just got its 10th participant: former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

Castro got just 2% in our poll. That, however, is enough. Under rules set by the Democratic National Committee, candidates need to meet a fundraising benchmark (which Castro already has) and get at least 2% in at least four qualifying polls released between June 28 and August 28. Our poll marks the fourth survey in which Castro hit 2%.

Castro got into the debate within 10 days of the qualifying window closing.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also hit 2% in our poll. This is the second poll she can use to get into the September debates. It seems unlikely that she'll get two more polls before the deadline closes, but stranger things have happened.

Billionaire Tom Steyer is still one poll short of the four he needs to qualify for the September debates. He was at 1% in our poll. The three qualifying polls that have put Steyer at 2% or more have been from Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina (i.e. early primary states). That's not surprising given he's spending millions on advertising in those states.

The nine candidates besides Castro to qualify for the September debates include former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and businessman Andrew Yang.

6:14 a.m. ET, August 20, 2019

Joe Biden regains clear lead, as Kamala Harris plummets

Former Vice President Joe Biden has mostly recovered from his decline in the CNN/SSRS conducted following the June debates.

Our new poll taken late last week and this weekend finds Biden leading the Democratic primary field with 29%. That's up from 22% in late June.

Following Biden is a second tier of candidates: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 15% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 14%. Both of those are relatively unchanged from late June, when Sanders was at 14% and Warren was at 15%.

Perhaps the biggest story of the horserace in our poll is that California Sen. Kamala Harris has dropped from 17% in late June to a mere 5% now. Harris had seen a major bump following her June debate performance. Her polling now mirrors much more closely where she stood in April (5%) and May (8%).

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the only other candidate to hit 5% in our latest poll. He's been within 2 points of 5% in our polls taken since April.

Every other candidate we polled was within a point of where they were in late June. It's a clear sign that the CNN debates in late July didn't upend the state of the Democratic race.

Biden is currently, as he has been for most of the last year, a clear, even if it not wholly impressive, frontrunner.