The new CNN/ORC national poll finds Hillary Clinton bouncing back, with a wider lead over Sanders since the previous poll taken earlier this month:
Hillary Clinton's lead in the Democratic presidential primary race has grown -- and if Vice President Joe Biden decides to stay out of the race, her numbers would rise even higher, a new CNN/ORC poll shows.
Clinton is backed by 42% of Democratic primary voters nationally, compared to 24% for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 22% for Biden and 1% for former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
That's a marked improvement over an early September CNN/ORC poll that found Clinton leading Sanders, 37% to 27%, with Biden at 20%.
The poll results indicate that Clinton's primary competitor right now is Joe Biden, who siphons off a disproportionate amount of her vote, as indicated by how her numbers jump when he is included in the race.And Biden's support comes almost entirely from Clinton's camp. Without the vice president in the race, Clinton's numbers climb by 15 percentage points, while Sanders' increase by only 4 points -- giving Clinton a nearly 2-to-1 lead at 57% to 28%, with O'Malley moving up to 2%.
Why does Biden take so much more from Clinton than he does from Sanders?
Biden cuts into Clinton's support with non-white voters in a way that Sanders does not.
Here are the numbers among Non-White voters with Biden in the race:
And with Biden excluded:
Clinton 72% (+17)
Sanders 22% (+5)
A similar result can be found among women voters:
Clinton 50%Without Biden:
Clinton 64% (+14)And among 65+ voters:
Sanders 21% (+1)
Clinton 47%Without Biden:
Clinton 63% (+16)Further evidence that Clinton and Biden appeal to the same elements of the base can be found in the "Second Choice" numbers.
Sanders 19% (+2)
When asked who voters name as their second choice, Clinton and Biden dominate:
Biden 36%When Biden is excluded, Clinton inherits the majority of Second Choice slots:
Clinton 57% (+29)Unlike the GOP primary, it seems clear that the Democratic party is looking for a continuation of the Obama administration policies, and not a major shift. According to the poll, President Obama's popularity with Democrats remains strong:
Sanders 28% (+13)
Approve 77%Sanders is polling slightly above Obama's disapproval numbers, while Clinton and Biden combine for 64% of the vote when both are included; with Biden excluded, Clinton is at 58%.
This poll doesn't break down by race beyond "white" and "non-white," but the demographic challenges in the primary race haven't changed. Sanders must appeal more to non-white voters to have a shot at the nomination; Biden's presence compromises Clinton's strength with those same voters more than any of the candidates currently running.
As the race stands right now, Biden has emerged as Clinton's true competitor, the only one who can challenge her on her own demographic turf within the party.