MIAMI — Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders have broken out as frontrunners for young liberal voters, according to a new straw poll conducted by the progressive group NextGen, pulling ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden, who retains his lead in national polls as the first Democratic debates are about to begin here.
The polling results to be released Tuesday afternoon, first viewed and reported by Yahoo News, show Warren with a huge lead among respondents ages 18 to 35, with 39 percent, compared with 26 percent for Sanders, the runner-up.
Those figures were from a total of 4,418 of participants who had signed on to the email and text-message lists for NextGen, a PAC run by billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer. The results cannot be extrapolated to the electorate as a whole, or even Democratic primary voters, but Warren’s eclipse of both Biden and Sanders in this highly motivated group seems to confirm a widespread belief that she has picked up momentum in recent weeks. She will have time to bask in her new popularity during the first Democratic debate of the 2020 cycle Wednesday evening, where she’ll be competing mostly against second-tier candidates. Her strongest competitors, including Sanders and Biden, are set to talk the following evening.
Biden, the national Dem frontrunner in most polls, was in a tie for fourth place with Sen. Kamala Harris in the NextGen results, both with 6 percent, behind South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9 percent. Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Cory Booker and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee all polled at less than 3 percent.
NextGen also ran an open internet poll, not limited to its own supporters, that showed Warren and Sanders still leading, but with Yang, an internet entrepreneur who has never held office, in third place, and Biden, Buttigieg and Harris next.
Yang benefited from a campaign among Reddit users, who are overwhelmingly men under 30. His backers say this shows that millennial and Gen Z voters, who absorb news and opinions largely through social media, will mobilize to support candidates who meet them where they are.
Millennial and Gen Z voters, who now vote at higher rates than their older counterparts, are on track to make up 10 percent of the electorate in the 2020 presidential race.
The polls, conducted through email and text from June 11 to 21, were sent to both preexisting NextGen supporters and those outside its system.
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