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Democrats happy with Harris pick and Biden holds lead ahead of convention — Battleground Tracker poll

Battleground Tracker: Biden holds lead ahead of convention
Battleground Tracker: Biden holds lead ahead ... 04:31

Heading into the conventions, Joe Biden's 10-point national lead in vote preference translates into a large advantage in the Electoral College — the only count that matters — with 279 electoral votes leaning his way at the moment. 

And we find Biden's vice presidential pick of Kamala Harris is exciting to his Democratic base. Democrats say they're glad he picked Harris and, asked to play political consultant for a moment, feel Harris also improves the ticket's chances of winning.

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Black voters (who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and who Biden needs to win) are overwhelmingly satisfied with the choice of Harris — 9 in 10 are — including 53% who are enthusiastic.

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When we look beyond just the Democrats at all registered voters nationwide, we find women are even happier about the pick than men are: by 2 to 1, women are glad Biden picked Harris rather than someone else. (Part of this is partisanship too, though, as Biden has had a larger national lead with women heading in.)

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Liberals — a core part of the Democratic base — are happy with the pick. (They've been behind Biden since he secured the nomination and backed him in the primaries, though not always to the extent that moderates did.) Today, voters who describe themselves as "very liberal" are as likely as "somewhat liberal" voters to be enthusiastic about Harris and glad that she was selected. 

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Moderates, however, are not as enthusiastic (33%) as liberals are about Biden's choice of Harris, but most are at least satisfied. And more are glad Biden chose her (39%) rather than someone else (27%).

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It's less clear what if any impact the pick might have on Biden's overall support, and historically, vice presidential picks haven't sparked much in the way of immediate vote shifts. Biden's national numbers are about the same this week as they were in July. When we look at the relatively small group of people considering — but not currently voting for — Joe Biden, most in that group are enthusiastic or satisfied about Harris. So, there's no evidence of a negative impact, but at the same time, they're still only considering Biden.

When we look at independents nationwide, opinions on Harris are more mixed in the aggregate, and quite simply related to presidential vote choice: Independents backing Biden are satisfied with the selection, and those voting for President Trump are not.

For Trump voters (and Republicans), most say Biden's choice of Harris doesn't matter.

In 2008, Democrats were almost all satisfied or enthusiastic when Biden himself was picked by Barack Obama to be his running mate, just as they are with the Harris pick today, but Harris elicits even more enthusiasm within those positive party sentiments. Biden's mix was 29% enthusiastic and 52% satisfied — Harris' today is 58% enthusiastic and 34% satisfied. Overall, most voters nationwide think Harris would be qualified to serve as president if necessary, should Joe Biden be unable to finish his term. Almost all Democrats say so. The rest of that view is related to vote choice — it's mixed among independents (depending on who they are voting for) and negative among Republicans, who are overwhelmingly backing the president.

Who do voters think will win?

And speaking of Biden's chances of winning, not all Democrats are convinced he will. Three-quarters think he will, but 20% aren't sure. Republicans, though, are relatively more convinced that Mr. Trump will win.

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And among all registered voters, that partisan difference balances out, so the expectations are about even between Mr. Trump winning (41%) and Biden winning (40%).

The convention

Democrats largely want the party to keep things positive at this week's convention. Most want to hear what Democrats would do if Biden and Harris were elected, rather than why Mr. Trump should not be reelected. They'd also largely prefer to hear good things about Biden and Harris instead of criticism of Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. 

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Asked about a range of potential speakers, Democrats would most like to hear from former President Obama (92%), and Biden and Harris (91% each), followed closely by Michelle Obama (88%).

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Seven in 10 Democrats want to hear from Biden's two most successful progressive challengers for the nomination: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, while nearly two-thirds want to hear from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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They are less excited about the 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, while fewer than half want to hear from Republican John Kasich, former Governor of Ohio.

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Most Democrats say they plan to watch at least some of this year's virtual convention, although three in 10 think it will be less interesting than past conventions. Nearly half of independents don't plan to watch at all, along with four in 10 who are not sure who they're voting for. 


This CBS News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,210 U.S. registered voters interviewed between August 12-14, 2020. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is ± 2.4 points.

Full results

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