Biden, Yang, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana were notably the only Democrats with net positive support among undecided general election voters in the past three Insider polls, which ran from Sept. 25-26, Oct. 3-4, and Oct. 16-17.
To help make sense of where all the 2020 candidates stand, Insider has been conducting a recurring SurveyMonkey Audience national poll. You can download every poll here, down to the individual respondent data.
Typically, we concentrate only on the fraction of Democrats that would be satisfied in the event a contender became the nominee. But due to additional polling questions we ask related to impeachment, we also knew which respondents had not yet decided if they will support a Republican or a Democrat in the 2020 general election.
It's a subset that is of particular interest as Democrats argue for appeal beyond their own party, and their support is elusive for all but two contenders.
The Yang phenomenon
Out of the 268 undecided voters who knew of Yang, 46% would be satisfied with him as the nominee and 24% would not be satisfied, giving him positive net support of 21 percentage points among general election voters who know him and have not yet decided whether to vote Democrat or Republican.
Yang is possibly the most politically unique candidate in the race — and this particular survey result shows how much it works in his favor.
A political outsider, Yang is making waves in the primary by drawing on his unique expertise as an entrepreneur and businessman to sound the alarm about the rise of mass automation in America — a problem that in his view, few other 2020 candidates or politicians have substantively addressed or tacked.
And while Yang proposes big expansions in the size and scope of the welfare state, including a Medicare for All health insurance system, he doesn't speak like a typical Democrat — or even like a politician. He frames his policy positions not in the language of politics, but by creating a more humane version of capitalism.
More than any other candidate, Yang has warned that automation is decimating the availability of manufacturing, trucking, and retail jobs. His signature campaign proposal, which he calls the Freedom Dividend, is a universal basic income program that would give every American adult $1,000 dollars a month.
Lots of Yang's loyal base of online support comes from liberals, but also from a sizable contingent of former Trump supporters who are disappointed in Trump not fulfilling his campaign promise to bring jobs back to economically downtrodden areas.
Biden's familiarity and electability
The next-highest performing Democrat, Biden, greatly benefits from high name-recognition and his association with former President Barack Obama, who is still extremely popular among Democrats.
Across the three Insider polls, Biden had positive net support among undecided general election voters of seven percentage points among the 620 voters who knew of him, with 42% of voters supporting him compared to 35% who don't suppor him.
Biden has been arguing on the campaign trail that he is uniquely suited to defeat President Donald Trump because he can build a diverse coalition of Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans.
While it's too early for any Democratic primary polling or head-to-head general election matchup polls to give us a good idea which of the Democratic candidates has the best shot at beating Trump, Biden's relatively strong support among general election indicates he might be right.
The third-best performing Democrat, Buttigieg, has a net positive support of +2 percentage points, with 32% of general election voters supporting him compared to 29% who do not — within the poll's margin of error.
General election voters polled by Insider don't overwhelmingly support most other Democrats. Our polling found that:
- Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren both have slightly negative net support among general election voters with -2 percentage points underwater, respectively. Rep. Tulsi's Gabbard's net support is -1 percentage point. (All of those candidates' levels of net support are within the margin of error of the poll.)
- Sen. Kamala Harris is underwater by 13 percentage points, and Tom Steyer and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro are both underwater by 14 percentage points.
- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke is underwater among general election voters by 17 percentage points and Sen. Cory Booker is underwater by 20 percentage points.
The Iowa caucuses are still several months away and the conditions of the race could drastically change, so the aforementioned candidates still have plenty of time to make up ground. But as of now, it seems like Yang and Biden have the biggest edge in winning over the electoral segment of undecided general election voters.
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 1,096 respondents collected September 25-26, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.04 percentage points with a 95% confidence level. Total 1,083 respondents collected October 4-5, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.06 percentage points with a 95% confidence level. Total 1,095 respondents collected October 16-17, 2019, a margin of error plus or minus 3.04 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.