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An early look at the demographics of the 2020 Democratic primary

In the massive field of candidates, a first look at the emerging coalitions.

Longreads
Politics
June 7th, 2019

I2016, it was pretty easy to differentiate the demographics of supporters in the Democratic Primary for President. If you were young, you likely supported Bernie Sanders. If you were older, you  likely supported Hillary Clinton. While there were variabilities inside of this generalization—Clinton struggled with Independents of all ages while Sanders somewhat infamously underperformed among African-American voters—it was easy to see where the most obvious split was between the two candidate’s pool of voters.

Things are more complicated this time around, as there are approximately a million candidates running for the nomination across a wide ideological spectrum. Each candidate is targeting different blocs of voters, while all of them are attempting to build a coalition that can win the nomination and hopefully the generation election. It’s early to make any kind of sweeping proclamations based on current polling data, but we can begin to see the makeup of each candidate’s support. It also offers an interesting insight into where candidates are struggling, and which voters they are currently over performing with.

Information based on this analysis is based on the most recent HarrisX poll, which surveyed over 1,000 registered voters across the country. I’ll be listing by descending poll ranking, within the five overall categories of race, gender, education, age, and income. For the sake of clarity and data availability, I’ll also only be focusing on the top four rated candidates (sorry, John Delaney).

A Note About Harris X Polling

As I mentioned earlier, I’m using data from the most recently available HarrisX/The Hill polling. HarrisX is rated in the middle of pack in terms of poll quality by 538, which is not ideal. However, they are the only polling agency I can find polling on a national level and disclosing all the demographic information of their respondents. I certainly wish I could find a better option, but for now I believe the quality of the data is sufficient to draw early observations.

It's important to note that this is not meant to be reflective of who is going to win the nomination; the nomination process is ultimately decided by demographics and turnout in specific states, making national analysis like this less important. However, this is useful in seeing which candidates initially appear to be capturing the Democratic base, and what kind of voters each candidate are attracting.

Joe Biden

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Gender

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. This follows the rest of the candidates surveyed, all of whom performed strong with women then men. Biden has the largest percentage of male supporters, tied with Bernie Sanders. Not coincidently, Biden also has the lowest percentage of female supporters, tied with Sanders and well below Harris and Warren.

Age

Biden's base leans older. He has the highest percentage of support in the 50-62 demographic and is second in the 65+ demographic. This is somewhat comparable to Hillary Clinton's numbers in the 2016 and 2008 primaries, where her block of supporters leaned on the older side. In the 18-34 demographic, Biden proportionally is in third-place, narrowly ahead of Kamala Harris. However, the gulf between his percentage of support in this age bracket and the top two is immense. Biden is third in the proportion supporters in the 35-49 demographic, comfortably ahead of Elizabeth Warren.

Race/Ethnicity

Biden's base is majority white with an impressive proportion of African-American supporters. Perhaps surprisingly considering Biden's checkered past (and present) with policies involving race, he leads in percent of supporters who are African-American. He is second in terms of white supporters, tied with Kamala Harris. Biden is second in terms of Asian supporters behind Sanders. However, he currently appears to be struggling in the Hispanic community, coming in last well behind all other candidates.

Generation

Biden falls behind every other candidate in support among melinnials. He is in a close place for supporter among Generation Z. However, his support among middle-aged generations may be overstated: he is third in terms of supporters who belong to Generation X. The majority of Biden's support comes from older generations, he leads the other candidates in terms of supporters who are Baby Boomers, and is a close second in terms of Silent Generation support.

Location

The biggest amount of Joe Biden's supporters live in the Northeast. This is slightly more proportionally than Warren and significantly more than Sanders or Harris. He is tied with Warren for weakest support in the West, and squarely middle of the pack in terms of supporters in Midwest. He leads the other candidates in terms of support in the South.

Locale

A close majority of Biden's supporters live in a suburban environment, which is essentially true of all the candidates. Biden has a slightly less proportion of support in urban environments compared to Sanders, although he leads Harris and Warren. He is tied with Harris for supporters in rural environments, ahead of Sanders but below Warren.

Education

A clear majority of Biden's supporters have a high school to less than four years of college education, a figure that is mostly consistent with the other candidates. Biden supporters are more likely than Sanders or Warren to lack a high school education, and basically equivelent to Harris. Biden supporters are slightly less likely than any other candidate to have four years of college education or more.

Income

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Ideology

Biden supporters are more likely to describe themselves as moderate than any other candidate's supporters. In fact, moderates make up just shy of a majority of his supporters. Biden supporters are less likely than any other candidate's supporters to identify as "strongly liberal" or "lean liberal". Biden also has stronger support from those who identify as conservative: leading in "strongly conservative" and second for "lean conservative" (behind Warren).

Bernie Sanders

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Gender

Sanders supporters are more likely to be female than male, although at smaller rates than Warren or Harris. In terms of gender breakdown, his proportions are essentially similar to Biden's.

Age

Sanders supporters are more likely than any other candidate to be between 18-36 years in age. In fact, they nearly represent a majority of his supporters, a higher ratio than any other candidate has for any age bracket. This comes at the expense of his other age brackets: Sanders supporters are far and away the least likely to be older than 65 or between 50-64. He comes in second in terms of supporters between 35-49, behind Harris.

Race/Ethnicity

The big story here is that Sanders continues to struggle in African-American support. His supporters are least likely to be African-American. It is, however, unfair to say that his supporters are predominently white. In fact, Sanders is the only candidate whose supporters are not majority white. This is primarily due to his large support among other minority communities: Sanders leads all over candidates in percent of supporters who are Asian and Hispanic.

Generation

As you may suspect, Sanders supporters are more likely to belong to the melienial generation than any other candidate. A near majority of his support is among this generation, far more than any other candidate and only comparable to Biden and Warren's support among baby boomers. Meanwhile, he leads in terms of Generation X support and falls behind in every other generation.

Location

A near majority of Sanders support comes from the West, more so than any other candidate. He is a close third in terms of supporters who are from the South. His supporters are least likely to live in the Midwest, much less than any other candidate. Among Northeast supporters, he is the middle of the pack.

Locale

Sanders has the largest share of urban supporters among the candidates. He is tied with Warren for largest percentage of suburban supporters, with a virtual majority hailing from these regions. However, he has the lowest percentage of support among rural voters.

Education

Sanders has the lowest share of support among those lacking a high school degree. His share of supporters with a college education or a college education and above are mostly comparable with his peers.

Income

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Ideology

Sanders supporters are more likely to describe themselves as leaning liberal than any other candidate's supporters. He is near the bottom in share of supporters that describe themselves as politically moderate. Interestingly, 4.2% of his supporters describe themselves as "lean conservative", a higher share than Warren and nearly on level with Joe Biden.

Kamala Harris

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Gender

Kamala Harris' supporters are more likely to be women than either Biden or Sanders.

Age

Harris supporters are 34% 65+ years of age or older, the highest percentage of any candidates surveyed. She also has the weakest numbers of 18-34 year old supporters, below even Biden. She has the highest share of supporters aged 35-49 of any candidate surveyed.

Race/Ethnicity

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Generation

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Location

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Locale

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Education

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Income

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Ideology

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Elizabeth Warren

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Gender

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Age

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Race/Ethnicity

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Generation

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Location

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Locale

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Education

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Income

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.

Ideology

Joe Biden's base at this point appears to be slightly more female than male. It’s another dumb situation in a very dumb time, and the half-hearted cowardice of the Time’s statement in defense of Jeong gives the numbskulls all the more leverage in their future disingenuous campaigns of harassment. But there’s something unique in Jeong’s situation—that her Bad Tweets are mostly fuck white people jokes brought on by the terror and constant harassment tied to being a woman of color writer on the internet—that is making some “sensible” commentators slip up and reveal how bad they are at this whole social analysis thing. In other words, the Bald Conservative Men are at it again.