Voters rank how much they trust 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to handle international crises and war

John Haltiwanger
FILE PHOTO - Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) takes the stage at the New Hampshire Democratic Party state convention in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. September 7, 2019. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl
  • Insider polled voters and got them to rank the 2020 Democratic candidates based on how well they think they would handle US international relations and conflict. 
  • Foreign policy isn't typically at the top of voters' priorities, but if the eventual Democratic nominee beats President Donald Trump he or she will have a lot on their plate in the global arena. 
  • Voters overwhelmingly saw Former Vice President Joe Biden as most prepared to handle international crises and conflict, which isn't that surprising given his name-recognition, experience, and frontrunner status. 
  • But the poll also showed that having a lot of foreign policy experience didn't necessarily translate into voters trusting a candidate more on the issue. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

If the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee for president defeats President Donald Trump, he or she will face myriad challenges when it comes to foreign policy.

From climate change and trade disputes to rising authoritarianism and global terrorism — there's a lot going on in the world. 

Insider polled voters and asked them to rank the 2020 Democratic candidates based on how well they think they would handle US international relations and conflict, with the contender in the first (1) position being the best and the contender in the highest-numbered position being the worst. 

Voters overwhelmingly saw Former Vice President Joe Biden as most prepared to handle international relations and conflict. This isn't particularly surprising, given Biden's name-recognition, overall popularity, and experience in foreign affairs as vice president. 

In a foreign policy speech Biden delivered in New York City in July, the former vice president slammed Trump's approach to international relations and presented himself as a return to normalcy. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who came in second, tends to focus on domestic issues and isn't particularly well-known for her views on global affairs but is currently rising in the polls and considered a top contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination. 

The Massachusetts senator outlined her foreign policy vision in a speech at American University in November and said the US needs to "refocus our international economic policies so that they benefit all Americans, not just wealthy elites."

"At the same time, we must refocus our security policies by reining in unsustainable and ill-advised military commitments and adapt our strategies overseas for the new challenges we see in this coming century," Warren added. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who came in third, was often criticized for not being more polished when it came to foreign policy as he ran for president in 2016. He's made an effort to sharpen his foreign policy platform as part of his 2020 campaign. 

In an op-ed for Foreign Affairs in June, Sanders expressed concern about Trump sparking a conflict with Iran and called for the US to "take a step back and rethink what we are doing, both in Iran and in the broader Middle East." The Vermont senator, who voted against the invasion of Iraq as a member of the House, said it's time for the US to step away from foreign policy that leads to "endless war."

Biden, Warren, and Sanders consistently rank as the top three candidates in a wide set of polling on the 2020 race, which likely helps explain why they ranked so high with voters in terms of who they trust on foreign policy. 

Interestingly, being a veteran of the US armed forces did not necessarily give candidates a huge advantage in Insider's poll.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who served as a Navy Reserve officer and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2014, ranked at five overall in the poll. 

Meanwhile, Gabbard, a veteran who served two tours in the Middle East, came in at number 15.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has sparked controversy over her foreign policy views at times, facing accusations of being an apologist for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is widely regarded as a war criminal for using chemical weapons against Syrians.

Having foreign policy experience in Washington also did not necessarily put candidates at the top of the list. Booker sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for example, and came in seventh overall in Insider's poll. 

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,191 respondents collected June 21 to June 22, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.02 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

Here are the full Insider poll results on how voters rank the 2020 Democratic candidates based on how well they think they would handle US international relations and conflict. A candidate's ranking is based on the percentage of times that candidate beat other contenders in respondents' rankings:

Former Vice President Joe Biden: 75%


Sen. Elizabeth Warren: 65%

Robert F. Bukaty/AP Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders: 61%

Brian Snyder/Reuters

Sen. Kamala Harris: 58%


South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 52%

Mary Schwalm/AP Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 48%

Associated Press

Sen. Cory Booker: 46%


Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro: 42%

Jim Waton/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Michael Bennet: 40%

Associated Press

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke: 38%

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

Rep. Tim Ryan: 37%

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Rep. John Delaney: 35%

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Governor Steve Bullock: 35%

Associated Press

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: 31%

Associated Press

Andrew Yang: 30%

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: 27%

REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Marianne Williamson: 19%

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

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