Elizabeth Warren Tops the First Daily Kos 2020 Presidential Straw Poll

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts came in first place in Daily Kos’s first 2020 straw poll, proving that she will be a formidable contender in the race for next year’s Democratic nomination for president.

Senator Warren has made news over the past week as she was among the first Democrats to announce that she is running for president, and then as she traveled to early-caucus state Iowa for a series of kick-off campaign events.

Warren currently leads the crowded Democratic primary field with 22 percent of support in the straw poll of nearly 35,000 Daily Kos members. Warren is known as a progressive stalwart who created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and has constantly fought on behalf of consumers and America’s middle class. She is widely seen as a candidate who will carry the progressive torch of Bernie Sanders, should the elderly Vermont senator decide not to run for president again in 2020.

Up-and-comer former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke came in second in the Daily Kos poll, with 15 percent supporting him. Considering he has not said that he will run for president for him to finish second shows that the young Texan is starting out 2019 with a solid base of Democratic support.

Tied with 14 percent each are Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom are considered strong contenders for the 2020 nomination. Biden is expected to announce whether he is running or not by the end of the month. Harris has not formally announced but has been making many campaign trips and has begun a new book tour and media blitz, giving strong hints that an announcement of her candidacy will soon be forthcoming.

Senator Sanders is considering a second run for the White House but ranks only in fifth place, in the Daily Kos poll with just 11 percent support. He is still the favorite of many members of other progressive groups, however.

In explaining the results, Daily Kos wrote;

“Modern presidencies aren’t won in rural diners. They’re won by those who best manage their media—social, partisan, and traditional. So who on that list above can do that? Warren, O’Rourke, Sanders, Booker, and Harris have already built that infrastructure. Bernie, however, has a ‘yesterday’s news’ feel to him.”

After Sanders, the categories of “Unsure” and “Others” each got 9% of the vote. The “Others” category presumably includes around 15 other Democrats who are at least considering running for the nomination in 2020.

Warren and Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have both formed an exploratory committee to run in 2020. Castro does not have a strong national profile, and is included in the “Others” category.

Warren traveled to Iowa last weekend, drawing big crowds to her events while she attacked corruption in the Trump administration and decried the influence of big money in politics.

Other progressive groups have conducted straw polls of their members, but this appears to be one the first one that shows Senator Warren in first place.

MoveOn.org also had a straw poll in December who had O’Rourke narrowly edging out Biden. And in Democracy for America’s December poll, Sanders came in first, while Warren finished in fourth place.

After the first poll was released Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said his group will be conducting its straw poll every two weeks from now until the 2020 Democratic convention.

“Daily Kos will be running these straw polls every two weeks, and as folks exit and enter the race, the slate of candidates tested in each poll will shift as the field evolves,” Moulitsas said.

“While not a scientific evaluation of preferences, past straw polls on Daily Kos have accurately represented the sentiment of the millions of progressives we reach every day.”

There is now question that the Daily Kos members are an important subgroup of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Having their support shows that Senator Warren is perhaps the leading progressive currently in the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination.

Along the same lines, however, the fact that Beto O’Rourke is in second place among such a progressive group shows that the criticisms that he is too conservative may not hold up over time.

Another way to interpret the results is to think of Senator Warren — who turns 70 in June — as the favorite of those who want to see a female candidate, carrying on the legacy of Hillary Clinton, and to think of O’Rourke as the favorite of those who want to see a younger candidate so that a new generation of leaders can take over the Democratic Party. O’Rourke, at 46, is nearly the same age as both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were when they started their successful campaigns for the presidency.