Elizabeth Warren’s steady rise in the polls has shifted into reverse as attacks from her Democratic rivals over her Medicare for All plan take a toll.
A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found that Warren has dropped by 14 points since October, when she topped the field in the same poll. Joe Biden now has a clear lead and she is in a three-way statistical tie for second place with Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. Every other candidate had 3% support or less.
Other surveys like Economist/YouGov show Warren’s support dipping in recent weeks, and her standing in the RealClearPolitics average of polls has fallen by 9 points since early October. There’s no obvious beneficiary of her struggles — Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg have each risen by a few points since then.
The latest findings present a new test of resilience for a candidate who began her campaign with a blunder -- taking a DNA test to prove that she was part Native American -- and spent months seeking to recover, only to face a barrage of criticism from rivals once she became a true threat.
With a little more than two months to go until the first nominating contest in Iowa, the race remains fluid and there’s plenty of time for fortunes to change. Many polls show large shares of voters haven’t fully made up their minds. And early states have a way of reshaping the contest.
Warren, who has consistently downplayed polls, did so again on Tuesday in Iowa when asked about the Quinnipiac survey. “It’s the same answer it’s always been: I don’t do polls. I’m out here fighting every day on behalf of working families,” she told reporters. “I’m talking about what’s broken in this country, and about how to fix it and building a grassroots movement.”
Taking a swipe at rivals like Biden and Buttigieg, who are spending time courting big donors, she added: “I’m not running a campaign where I have to spend time sucking up to billionaires.”
Her slide comes after she has been pummeled over her $20.5 trillion Medicare for All plan by Biden and Buttigieg, who’ve described it as radical and impossibly expensive. She responded early this month by detailing how she would cover the cost with a wealth tax.
Only two weeks later, she appeared to step back by offering a transition plan for the first 100 days of her administration that would make coverage under Medicare optional, as Biden and Buttigieg have proposed.
The attacks appear to have taken a toll.
The Quinnipiac poll found that 52% of Americans say a “single payer” system is a bad idea, while 36% say it’s a good idea. Among Democrats, 58% said it’s a good idea while 32% said it’s a bad idea.
The survey found that over the last month, Warren has fallen by 7 points among Democratic voters asked who has the “best policy ideas” (though she still led in that category), 10 points on who’s the most electable against President Donald Trump, 14 points on who cares most about people like you, 9 points on who the ”most honest” candidate is, and 14 points on who the “most intelligent” contender is.
Sanders, who wrote the Medicare For All Act that she supports, faced serious questions about his viability early October after he suffered a heart attack. But he has since rebounded in the polls, aided by endorsements from young liberal stars including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Still, the trends in the Democratic race over recent months indicate that the pendulum is swinging away from the progressive energy that dominated early debates and toward more moderate ideas in the party, as indicated in the pivots by Buttigieg and Kamala Harris toward the center after they flirted early on with some left-wing positions.
(Updates with Warren reaction, starting in sixth paragraph)