Senator Elizabeth Warren‘s slow but steady rise through the 2020 ranks has officially put her at the top of the pack—albeit by a very small margin. The Massachusetts lawmaker officially overtook former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday in RealClearPolitics’ 2020 polling average, polling at 26.6% as compared with Biden’s 26.4%. Warren is also notably the only candidate whose polling has steadily gone up throughout the primary, while Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds a 14.6% polling average, have seen their popularity fluctuate and go down from their starting highs.
Warren’s polling win came courtesy of a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday, in which 29% of respondents supported Warren as compared with 26% for Biden. Sanders earned 16% of the vote, and no other 2020 candidate topped 4%. (The poll was notable for Andrew Yang, though, whose 3% share of the vote earned him a spot in the November debate.) “Warren maintains her strength in the Democratic primary, which has been consistently growing since the start of her campaign,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement. “This poll confirms her status as a co-frontrunner with Biden.”
The Quinnipiac poll had a margin of error of 4.7%, though, and with less than half a percentage point separating Warren and Biden’s averages, it’s safe to say the two are neck and neck rather than Warren pulling ahead with a decisive lead. Biden, after all, is still leading in plenty of 2020 polls, including a Morning Consult poll released Monday that put him 12 points above Warren. But while Warren’s current polling advantage may be a tiny one, it’s leagues ahead of where the candidate was even as recently as late September, when Biden held a seemingly comfortable 11 point lead—and based on the two candidates’ trajectories, it seems likely to climb.
Warren’s ascendance to front-runner status has spurred an uptick in criticism against the unabashed progressive in recent weeks, as Warren has started to face attacks on her policies from 2020 rivals like Yang and Pete Buttigieg, as well as mounting opposition from the factions her campaign is targeting. (Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg vowed to “fight” Warren’s plans to break up Big Tech, while Wall Street donors have threatened to sit out the election if she’s the nominee.) But Warren has so far been uniquely able to use her detractors to her advantage, turning the corporate criticism against her into evidence of her progressive bona fides. “I’m not afraid of anonymous quotes, and wealthy donors don’t get to buy this process,” Warren tweeted in response to the Wall Street donors report. Right-wing attempts to generate Warren scandals based on false information have similarly fallen flat. A false claim that Warren had an affair with a Marine was more notable for the candidate’s classy response, and a Washington Free Beacon article questioning whether Warren was actually fired from a teaching job for being pregnant as she claims inspired a movement of women speaking out about the widespread practice of pregnancy discrimination. (CBS News also debunked the Free Beacon‘s claims.) Whether Warren’s Teflon-like powers to repel her critics will hold up as she continues to rise remains to be seen—but at this rate, Warren’s 0.2% lead may just be the beginning.
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