It’s a three-way contest in New Hampshire primary, poll shows

From left: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.
From left: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Charles Krupa/Associated Press/Associated Press

The 2020 New Hampshire Democratic primary is a three-way contest, according to a survey released Tuesday, potentially setting up a major clash between two New England candidates.

Former vice president Joe Biden leads with 24 percent in the University of New Hampshire Survey Center/CNN poll. He’s slightly ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who are tied in second place with 19 percent.

The survey was taken July 8-15, and the margin of error among the 386 likely Democratic primary voters polled is 5 percent — meaning that Biden, Sanders, and Warren are in a statistical tie.


Following the top trio, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is at 10 percent, and Senator Kamala Harris of California is at 9 percent. All other candidates each picked up 2 percent support or less.

Six months before the primary, which is expected to be Feb. 11, the numbers not only show a snapshot of the mood of the primary voters — but also the trajectory of the race.

For example, Sanders’s showing marks his lowest level of support yet in this poll in the 2020 cycle. But for Warren, the survey showed her best numbers to date, climbing up from just 5 percent in the last UNH poll, which was released in April.

As for President Trump, despite all of the recent controversies, his position remains relatively consistent in the survey of 864 randomly selected adults in New Hampshire, a swing state.

Trump had an approval rating of 45 percent in the poll — his highest ever in the state — and up from 44 percent from the last survey.

At the same time, 51 percent of those surveyed disapprove of Trump’s job performance. And for those who want to oppose him in a Republican primary, such as former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, it is important to note that 86 percent of likely Republican primary voters backed the president for reelection in the state (the sample size for this was 289 respondents, and the margin of error was 5.8 percent).


It’s worth noting that this UNH poll is one of the polls the Democratic National Committee uses to determine who can make the debate stage.

While the field is largely set for the next debate later in July in Detroit, candidates must receive 2 percent in at least 4 qualifying polls to qualify for the September debate in Houston.

For example, this survey is the fourth for former US representative Beto O’Rourke since June 28 in which he is at 2 percent.

But it’s also a missed opportunity for other candidates on the bubble, such as Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who has reached the 2 percent mark in three other polls, and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former housing secretary Julián Castro, who have each reached that mark in a single poll.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: http://pages.email.bostonglobe.com/GroundGameSignUp