Most Democratic voters are happy with their presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and see their party as largely united, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted during last week’s virtual Democratic National Convention.
That said, the survey finds that as during the primary campaign, significant internal divides remain about the party’s ideology and strategy, often falling along generational lines.
Registered voters who identify as Democrats or who say they lean toward the Democratic Party (for the sake of brevity, “Democratic voters”) say, 61% to 17%, that the party is more united than it is divided. Fully 79% say that the party represents people like them at least somewhat well, although just 29% say they’re represented very well.
Democratic voters say, 48% to 36%, that Biden was the party’s best option for a nominee, with 72% saying they’re at least satisfied with him and 35% describing themselves as enthusiastic about him.
Satisfaction with Biden, and belief that he was Democrats’ best choice, have both ticked up since the former vice president became the presumptive nominee in April. The share of Democratic voters who perceive the party as mostly united has also buoyed notably since last summer, when slightly under half said they felt that way.
Younger Democratic voters, though, are distinctly less enthused by the state of the party, the survey finds. Those under age 45 are 25 percentage points less likely than the older voters to describe the party as united, 20 points less likely to say they are very well represented in the party, and 28 points less likely to describe themselves as enthusiastic about Biden’s candidacy.
The survey shows a less pronounced divide along ideological lines, with self-proclaimed liberals 11 points likelier than self-proclaimed moderates to say they consider themselves very well represented.
Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost Results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll on perceptions among Democratic voters of the party.
Primary campaigns and conventions often highlight the fractures and competing blocs within political parties. But it’s not always clear which of those fault lines ordinary voters see as relevant. About a year ago, in the early stages of the Democratic primary, we asked voters to weigh in on a number of frameworks for the choice in front of them ― for instance, “a choice between liberals and moderates,” or “a choice between mobilizing the Democratic base and reaching out to swing voters” ― asking them how well each described the dynamics of the election. We found little evidence that most of the party viewed the race as a referendum on any one subject.
With the primary now in the rear-view mirror, that’s still the case. Each of the contrasts we asked about was described by a majority of Democratic voters ― between 58% and 67% ― as having defined the primary at least “somewhat well,” with frames about ideology and electability being most widely seen as applicable. Fewer voters thought any one option fit the race “very well,” ranging from the 18% who thought that the framing of the race as a generational choice was very fitting to the 28% who saw the electability argument as being definitional.
The poll also asked Democratic voters which of the options, if either, they favored from each set of choices. They’re evenly split between preferring liberals and moderates, and close to split on whether it’s more important to energize the base or reach out to swing voters. By an 11-point margin, they say they prioritize finding the candidate with the best ideas over finding the one who’s most electable; by a 14-point margin, they favor continuing former President Barack Obama’s policies over taking the country in a new direction; by a 27-point margin, they say they’d rather see a new generation come to power.
Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost Results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll on Democratic voters’ perceptions about the party.
As the outcome of the primary suggests, these opinions don’t always translate into decision-making. Democratic voters’ apparent preference for a “newer generation,” for instance, didn’t stop the primary from coming down to a choice between two candidates in their 70s. And during the primary, Biden, 77, maintained a consistent lead on perceived electability, even when he scored behind his rivals on other metrics of enthusiasm.
One reason: Many of the voters said they don’t feel they have any particular stakes in these debates. On each question, a fifth or more aren’t sure or say they don’t really have a preference, with the voters especially likely to demur on the questions about generational preference and on weighing a focus on turning out base voters versus persuading swing voters.
Overall, the polling suggests that Democratic voters still see real philosophical differences within their party and disagree about the resolution. At the same time, there’s apparently no single, main fault line cracking party.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Aug. 18-20 among U.S. adults, including 384 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.
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