Sen. Elizabeth Warren might be closer to Sen. Bernie Sanders ideologically, but it looks like her voters are actually split between Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, the remaining two presidential candidates.
Now that Warren has dropped out of the presidential race, the question is what happens to her supporters. Second-choice polling from Morning Consult doesn’t show either Sanders or Biden with a decisive advantage: Earlier this week, before she dropped out, 43 percent of Warren supporters said they’d move to Sanders, and 36 percent said they would go with Biden if she dropped out. Add it all up with those candidates’ current vote shares nationally, and Biden is at 40 percent (potentially) and Sanders moves to 31 percent, according to Morning Consult’s polling.
One wild card: Does Warren affirmatively urge her candidates to support Sanders? She could also support Biden, in theory, or simply decline to endorse at all. So far, we have few clues about a possible endorsement.
Warren had a disappointing Super Tuesday, in which she finished fourth in the popular vote and finished third in her home state of Massachusetts. Doing well this week was crucial to her campaign’s ability to carry on, and when it didn’t happen, she dropped out.
Biden, meanwhile, has reasserted himself as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and Warren voters tend to be college-educated women, two demographics that seems to be leaning more toward Biden than Sanders based on Super Tuesday exit polls.
An even split between Biden and Sanders would look like a win for Biden. The upcoming states already seem more favorable to him, especially after he won in the South, Midwest and Northeast, and Super Tuesday. Sanders, who racked up delegates in California and Texas, is at risk of being unviable for delegates in Florida, which has 400-plus delegates. Such a blow could be fatal to a campaign.
For now, Sanders still holds a lead in the FiveThirtyEight national polling average (a full 10 points over Biden, 29 percent vs. 19 percent), but it often takes a little time for polling changes to respond to changes in the race. The most recent polls from Morning Consult and YouGov put Biden over Sanders by 8 and 4 points, respectively. Those numbers could change even more now that Bloomberg and Warren are gone.
According to Morning Consult, twice as many Bloomberg voters were going to Biden (48 percent) as were going to Sanders (25 percent) when they picked their second choice. And now it looks like Biden and Sanders may split Warren’s backers.
Whether any of that changes with a Warren endorsement remains to be seen.