Which candidates saw a bounce after the first Democratic debates? Which stayed flat?

Democratic presidential candidates, from left: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former vice president Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Kamala Harris.
Democratic presidential candidates, from left: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former vice president Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Kamala Harris.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press/Associated Press

Immediately after a presidential debate, there’s always speculation about which candidates will see a spike in support, and which will remain flat or lose ground.

But there often aren’t enough data to make a real determination. Now, nearly two weeks after the first Democratic presidential primary debate — split over two nights, June 26 and 27 — we’re getting a sense of what the Democratic electorate thought of the candidates’ performances, based on two factors: polling and fund-raising.

Two major, frequent national polls have been released in the wake of the debate: a CNN poll of likely voters that has been taken monthly since March, which had a 3 percent margin of error, and a Quinnipiac University poll of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters taken regularly over the same time period with a 5 percent margin of error.


In addition to the polling, the second-quarter fund-raising deadline came just days after the debate, and the candidates are beginning to reveal how much they raised.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key candidates in the 2020 Democratic race:

Joe Biden

Following his confrontation with Senator Kamala Harris over his past views on desegregation and busing, Biden’s most recent poll numbers show his lead in the crowded field slipping .

In the most recent CNN poll, taken after the debate, he lost 10 points, dropping to 22 percent, from his support in May.

Biden similarly lost a significant amount of ground in the Quinnipiac poll, falling to 22 percent support at the end of June from 30 percent in mid-June.

Biden raised $21.5 million in the second quarter after he announced his campaign in late April, second only to Pete Buttigieg, who raised nearly $25 million in the second quarter. Biden’s campaign didn’t indicate how much of that money came in the days after the debate.


Key results from the CNN poll

See the full poll results.

Kamala Harris

Where did those Biden supporters go? To Senator Kamala Harris and another rival on the upswing, Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Harris, whose polling numbers had stalled ahead of the debate, gained nearly 10 points in the CNN poll between May and June. She saw an even bigger jump in the Quinnipiac poll, rocketing into second place with 20 percent of support from fifth place in mid-June with 7 percent.

Harris’s fund-raising numbers are another measure: Her campaign announced it raised $2 million in the 24 hours after the debate. Overall, though, she trailed the front-runners with a $12 million total haul in the second quarter.

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren had been rising in the polls before the first Democratic debate, and she saw a particularly big jump between May and June in the CNN poll, gaining 8 points. But it was a different story in the Quinnipiac poll, where she slipped back 1 point from mid-June to late June.

Warren had a blockbuster quarter, raising $19.1 million. But she did not reveal how much of that was raised following her debate performance.

Key results from the Quinnipiac poll

See the full poll results.

Julián Castro

Though former Obama Cabinet official Julián Castro received positive reviews for pushing his Democratic rivals on their immigration policy, he did not see an immediate bump in his standings in the two national polls conducted immediately after the debate. He edged up from 0 percent to 1 percent in the Quinnipiac poll and actually lost some ground in the CNN poll, going from 2 percent in May to 1 percent at the end of June. Both results are well within the polls’ respective margins of error.


Castro registered 4 percent in an ABC News/Washington Post poll of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents taken after the debate, but he was not listed in their previous poll in April.

On the fund-raising side, Castro has not released his total numbers for the second quarter, but his campaign reportedly received nearly 16,000 donations in the days immediately following his presidential debate performance, a 3,266 percent increase in total cash than it had raised in the days prior to the debate.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders’ poll numbers have been fluctuating by a few points over the past several months. But he lost 4 points between May and June in the CNN poll, coming in fourth with 14 percent of support in the most recent survey . The slide was slightly larger in the Quinnipiac poll, where Sanders went from 19 percent in mid-June to 13 percent in late June.

Sanders had another strong fund-raising quarter, raising $24 million total, but $6 million was transferred from other accounts, including his 2016 war chest. According to the campaign, Sanders received nearly 1 million contributions. It’s unclear how many of those contributions came after the debate, but the Sanders campaign told reporters that it had raised nearly $2 million on the final day of the quarter, which fell on the Sunday after the debate.


Second quarter fund-raising