Elizabeth Warren jumps out to a big lead in MoveOn poll

The survey comes a day before the first Democratic debate, hosted by NBC, in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday.
Image: Presidential Candidates Attend Black Economic Alliance Forum In Charleston, South Carolina
Sen. Elizabeth Warren Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

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By Ali Vitali

MIAMI — Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders top a new straw poll from the progressive group MoveOn.org, illuminating how the packed field of candidates is coming into focus for more left-leaning Democratic voters just before the first debate of the 2020 cycle.

The poll, released Tuesday and first reported by NBC News, shows Warren is the top choice of 38 percent of MoveOn's members nationwide — and the top choice of voters surveyed in the early-voting states of California, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Sanders comes in second nationwide — 17 percent say he's their first choice — trailing Warren by more than 20 points. Former Vice President Joe Biden (15 percent) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana (12 percent), are the only other candidates to earn double-digit support; Sen. Kamala Harris of California comes in with 7 percent.

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That Sanders, the Vermont independent, would do well in the progressive group's poll is no surprise: MoveOn backed him over then-rival Hillary Clinton in 2016's Democratic primary, and a majority of MoveOn members at the time said they preferred him to the former secretary of state. But that progressives are gravitating toward like-minded policy wonk Warren could be another sign of trouble for Sanders, who has been overtaken by the Massachusetts senator in some recent polls.

MoveOn's first straw poll of the 2020 contest found a mostly wide-open field, with almost 3 in 10 respondents unsure of whom they would support. At the time, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke edged out Biden for the top spot with 15.6 percent, and Sanders came in third with 13.1 percent. Warren netted only 6.4 percent of the respondents.

This latest poll, though, shows a massive shift. Now, only 2 percent of voters say they're undecided on their first choice. In 2018, almost 30 percent of the respondents deemed themselves undecided on whom to support or wanting someone else not listed among the 30-plus potential choices.

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The poll was online, emailed to MoveOn members and conducted June 17 to 21.

The field's top 20 candidates are set to face off for the first time in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday for the debate hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo.