The latest national poll of the Democratic presidential primary shows a three-way virtual tie for first place (Warren 20, Sanders 20, Biden 19), with Biden suffering a surprisingly large 13-point drop since Monmouth surveyed voters in mid-June.
Larry Sabato points out that the poll has a small sample size (only 298 voters were interviewed), which means it has a wider than usual margin of error. And Fox News, CNN, and Morning Consult have all conducted polls in August showing Biden with a double-digit lead.
We’ll know soon enough whether the Monmouth poll is an outlier or a leading indicator in the Democratic primary, but one very interesting finding in the poll (one that can’t be chalked up to a large margin of error) is the contradictory evidence about the popularity of Medicare for All among Democrats.
As the New York Times has reported: At “the heart of the ‘Medicare for all’ proposals championed by Senator Bernie Sanders and many Democrats is a revolutionary idea: Abolish private health insurance.”
But Monmouth reports:
On the issue of health care, 58% of party voters say it is very important to them that the Democrats nominate someone who supports “Medicare for All.” Another 23% say it is somewhat important, 10% say it is not important, and 9% are unsure. However, it is not clear that Medicare for All means the same thing to all voters. When asked specifically about what type of health insurance system they prefer, 53% of Democratic voters say they want a system that offers an opt in to Medicare while retaining the private insurance market. Just 22% say they want to move to a system where Medicare for All replaces private insurance. Another 7% prefer to keep insurance private for people under 65 but regulate the costs and 11% want to leave the system basically as it is now.
So 81 percent of Democrats say it is “very” or “somewhat” important that the Democratic nominee support Medicare for All, but 78 percent of Democrats do not support the provision at “the heart of Medicare for All.” The two candidates most committed to abolishing private insurance, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth “I’m with Bernie” Warren, are tied for first place in the poll. And the candidate who has tried to give Democrats exactly what they say they want — something called “Medicare for All” that doesn’t abolish private insurance — has suffered in the Democratic primary precisely because of her maneuverings on the issue.