NBC/WSJ poll shows both Biden and Warren building formidable coalitions

Image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a presidential campaign ra
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at a presidential campaign rally in Washington Square Park in New York on Sept. 16, 2019. Copyright Drew Angerer Getty Images
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey is a good poll for only two 2020 Democrats.

Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

Want evidence that Biden is more durable than the conventional wisdom suggests? Well, he's leading the Democratic horserace at 31 percent — up 5 points since July.

He also has a substantial lead with African-American Democratic primary voters. And he's dominating the party's moderate/conservative/smaller change lane, which he has pretty much all to himself.

Want evidence that Warren has the momentum and could very well be the nominee next year? Well, she's on Biden's heels at 26 percent — up 6 points since two months ago.

She has the most enthusiasm around her: 35 percent of Dem primary voters say they're enthusiastic about voting her, versus Biden's 23 percent.

And she gets the most second-choice support in the poll, suggesting that she has crossover appeal in the race.

Maybe most important of all, the NBC/WSJ poll shows that both Biden and Warren have potentially winning coalitions.

Biden enjoys significant advantages with African Americans, older Dem primary voters (those traditionally most likely to show up), and moderates and conservatives.

Warren, on the other hand, has the strong edge with liberal Democrats, women with college degrees and those who want large-scale change.

Bottom line: You can make the case that EITHER is the frontrunner - right now - to win the Dem nomination.

Now it would be a mistake to call it a two-person race (or even a three-person race when you add Bernie Sanders and his 14 percent support).

As our poll shows, only 9 percent of Dem primary voters have definitely made up their minds about their choice, so these numbers aren't set in stone.

But we are seeing the beginning of a sorting process in the Dem race - with older, more moderate, and African American voters flocking to Biden, and with liberals, women and the college educated increasingly breaking Warren's way.

Even with 138 days until Iowa, that sorting process is hard to ignore.

The Greatest Generation(al) Divide

Want to see how divided Democratic primary voters are by age?

Well, Joe Biden is the first choice among just 10 percent of Democratic primary voters ages 18-34 (versus his overall 31 percent).

Conversely, he gets 39 percent among those 50-64, and a whopping 46 percent among those 65 and older.


Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is at 33 percent support among those 18-34 (compared with his overall 14 percent), but he's at just 3 percent (!!!) among those 50-64 and 2 percent (!!!) among those 65 and older.

The good news for Warren in this poll is that she straddles this divide, getting 25 percent among those 18-34; 24 percent among those 35-49; 25 percent among those 50-64; and another 25 percent among those 65-plus.

No matter the eventual Democratic nominee, however, a fight over the direction of the party between younger and older voters is already here.

And it likely will only intensify.

Netanyahu refuses to concede

It's striking that what's playing out after Israel's election yesterday could also occur in November 2020.


"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to fall short of a governing majority in Israel's election Wednesday, raising doubts over whether he could maintain his decade-long grip on power," per NBC News.

"Early Wednesday morning, Netanyahu refused to concede defeat and vowed to form a new government that excludes Arab parties… Facing the end of his political career, and potentially even jail, Netanyahu pulled out all the stops throughout the campaign."

"'War to the last minute,' he said on Twitter on Tuesday in a late attempt to get supporters to the polls. 'We will lose if you do not wake up.'"

Of course, don't count out Netanyahu until all of the votes have been counted.

But if loses, it's a reminder that political gravity eventually catches up to everyone.


2020 Vision: Kamala Harris' campaign mulls its next steps

The other big finding from the NBC/WSJ poll was Kamala Harris' 8-point drop to fifth place in the Dem contest — just 1 point above Andrew Yang.

NBC's Deepa Shivaram, Vaughn Hillyard and Beth Fouhy write about the campaign's next steps.

"Harris advisers say the candidate will continue to prioritize fundraising ahead of the Sept. 30 third-quarter fundraising deadline. The California senator raised $12 million in the second quarter, less than Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg."

"We're not playing to win a summer news cycle in the off-year," Harris spokesman Ian Sams tells NBC News. "We're playing to win an election. We're aiming to peak at the turn of the year when we're approaching votes - and we're built to do that."

On the campaign trail today: Beto O'Rourke, in California, visits San Quentin prison… And Amy Klobuchar, in Pennsylvania, stumps in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.


Dispatches from NBC's embeds

Six presidential candidates spoke at the 2019 AFL-CIO convention yesterday, per NBC's Gary Grumbach and Marianna Sotomayor.

"Sen. Bernie Sanders received the warmest welcome by far - a standing ovation, and chants of 'Bernie! Bernie' throughout his remarks." And Andrew Yang seemed to miss the mark when he "mentioned UAW a number of times, as if to build a relationship with people in the crowd - however there are no UAW members here, as AFL-CIO and UAW are totally separate entities."

Joe Biden made light of the scrutiny of his career, especially about the length of his political career. Biden said, "The bad news is I've been around a long time. The good news is I've been around a long time. You all know me, I've never not been with you. I've never not taken the risk of being with you."

Bill de Blasio, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar also spoke at the event.

Data Download: And the number of the day is … 90 percent and 64 percent.

That's the share of Democratic primary voters who say they have a positive opinion of former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, respectively, according to our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.


For Obama, nearly seven-in-10 say their view is VERY positive, while just 4 percent have a negative view.

But Clinton — whose presidency is now being viewed through more modern lenses, including the #MeToo movement and the fallout from his anti-crime reforms — hasn't fared as well.

Just 29 percent of Democratic primary voters say they have a VERY positive view of Clinton, while another 35 percent say it is SOMEWHAT positive. Fifteen percent now say they have a negative view of the former president.

Tweet of the Day

The Lid: Pod the poll!

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we broke down some of the biggest storylines from our new poll.

ICYMI: New clips you shouldn't miss

Jonathan Allen writes that Corey Lewandowski's testimony on the Hill yesterday was dangerous for Trump.


The Trump administration is still looking at options for retaliatory action against Iran after an attack on Saudi oil facilities.

The Trump administration also is expected to end California's authority to set its own auto-emissions standards.

Nearly 60 current and former mayors say they're backing Pete Buttigieg.

TRUMP AGENDA: Stay classy, San Diego

The president will tour the San Diego border wall today.

In California, everyone sees the homelessness problem, but potential solutions vary widely.


Trump and Lindsey Graham are butting heads over Iran.

Mitch McConnellsays Congress is still in a "holding pattern" on guns.

2020: All eyes on Wisconsin

Can Trump repeat a win in Wisconsin? It's a different ballgame in 2020.

2020 candidates are starting to look at crowd size as an indicator (or not!) of staying power.

Biden and Sanders are making their health care case to union workers — who can be protective of their negotiated plans.


The Washington Post offers an in-depth look at Kamala Harris' racial identity and upbringing.

Dan Lipinski says he's not phased by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's backing of his primary opponent.

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