Joe Biden, Kamala Harris in virtual tie for Democratic nomination, new poll shows

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By Adam Edelman  with NBC News Politics
Image: Kamala Harris and Joe Biden
Copyright  Getty Images;Reuters

Sen. Kamala Harris has catapulted into a virtual tie with Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination following her widely praised debate performance last week, a new national poll released Tuesday showed.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll showed Biden with 22 percent support and Harris with 20 percent — a double-digit jump for her since the university's previous poll last month.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were in third and fourth place in the poll, with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg came in fifth with 4 percent support.

The poll suggests a substantial upswing for Harris and a notable decline for the former vice president. In the Quinnipiac's poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters last month, Biden received the support of 30 percent of the respondents, while Sanders had 19 percent, Warren had 15 percent and Buttigieg had 8 percent.

Harris had 7 percent support.

Quinnipiac's latest poll is one of several released since last week'sfirst Democratic presidential debate — an event in which Biden faced an intense grilling from Harris over his record on race — that shows a boost for Harris, while Biden's lead over the field was found to be shrinking.

A CNN poll released Monday showed Biden with 22 percent support and Harris with 17 percent — a 10 percentage point drop for Biden, and a nine percentage point increase for Harris, since CNN's last poll in May. Its latest poll showed Warren with 15 percent support, Sanders with 14 percent support and Buttigieg with 4 percent.

During the second night of the debate,Biden was forced to defend his record ondesegregation in the 1970s during a tense exchange with Harris, the only black candidate on the stage that night.

"It was hurtful," Harris said about hearing Biden speak of his work with segregationist senators decades ago. She told the story of a little girl who was in an early wave of children bused to integrate schools in California, ending the anecdote with these words: "That little girl was me."

She went on to press Biden to apologize for his past opposition to busing to integrate schools, which he declined to do — before awkwardly cutting himself off when he exhausted his allotted time by saying, "My time's up. I'm sorry."

Ahead of the debate, Biden had come under harsh criticism for boasting about his ability to form working relationships in past decades with segregationist Democratic Sens. James Eastland and Herman Talmadge.