As of Wednesday, Elizabeth Warren is leading in the polls for the first time in the 2020 Democratic primary. The Massachusetts Senator leads former Vice President Joe Biden by .2 percentage points, according to poll averages tracked by RealClearPolitics. Warren’s slim 26.6 percent to 26.4 percent lead is the also the first time that Biden has not held the pole position since he declared his intention to run for president in April.
It’s a particularly dramatic reversal of fortune for Warren’s campaign, as she began the race a longshot for the Democratic nomination. Plagued by a poorly received video about her tiny amount of Native American heritage, she sat in fifth on the day of her 2020 announcement, behind Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.
In the eight months since, however, Warren’s polling has consistently improved, increasing about 19 points in RealClearPolitics averages between June and October. The website currently gives her 52.5 percent odds of winning the Democratic nomination.
The data reporting website FiveThirtyEight has credited her rise with a handful of factors: broadening appeal to moderate, working class, and nonwhite voters, as well as capitalizing on flagging support for Harris campaign. The California Senator peaked with 15.2 percent after the first Democratic debate — in which she challenged Biden on his record on busing — but has steadily eroded since. Harris currently sits at 4.4 percent, holding onto fifth.
However, these numbers should be treated with more than ample skepticism. Because RealClearPolitics is essentially a “poll of polls,” surveys on Warren vary widely: While an Economist/YouGov poll shows her with a six point lead, Politico/Morning Consult has Biden ahead by 12.
The Democratic candidates will next have their chance to make their case to voters at Thursday’s LGBTQ+ Town Hall, which is being presented by the Human Rights Campaign and CNN.