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19% of Democrat Debate Watchers Have Switched Candidates

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Even Democrats aren’t overly thrilled about their party’s presidential debates so far, but one-in-five who’ve followed the debates say they’ve switched candidates since they began.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 79% of Likely Democratic Voters have closely followed the debates among the Democratic presidential candidates, with 43% who have followed Very Closely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Among Democrats who have followed the debates, 53% still favor the candidate they liked before the debates. But 19% have switched their support to another candidate because of the debates. Twenty-eight percent (28%) remain undecided.

Only 42% of Democrats, however, think their party’s debates have done a good job of narrowing the field to the best candidates. Nearly as many (40%) say they have not done a good job. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 13-14, 2019 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Just after the last debate in mid-September, former Vice President Joe Biden remained comfortably ahead in the race to be the next Democratic presidential nominee. But Biden has been hard hit since then over his son's and his own international lobbying activities. Rasmussen Reports will update its Democratic race findings after tonight's debate.

Among all Likely Voters, 65% have closely followed the Democratic debates, with 30% who have followed Very Closely. Fifty-five percent (55%) are still sticking with the candidate they liked before the debates, but 14% have switched candidates. Only 27% of all voters think the debates have done a good job of narrowing the field.

Perhaps most significantly, just 20% of voters not affiliated with either major party think the debates so far have done a good job narrowing the field. Sixty-two percent (62%) of these voters have been closely following the debates, including 22% who have been following Very Closely.

Among unaffiliateds following the Democratic debates, 44% still favor the candidate they first liked. Thirteen percent (13%) have switched horses. Thirty-nine percent (39%) are still undecided.

Voters under 40 are the most likely to have switched candidates because of the debates. Their elders are more likely to be undecided.

Just over half of all voters say they are likely to vote against Trump next year, and most of them say the president, not the Democratic candidate, is the likeliest reason why. Against the leading Democratic contender, though, it's Trump 47%, Biden 43%.

Some have speculated that if Biden falters in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton will jump in. In a repeat matchup of the 2016 election, Clinton runs dead even with Trump, but even most Democrats don’t want her to get into the race.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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