Poll: Tulsi Gabbard Leads Kamala Harris in Democratic Primary

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

According to a new national survey of the Democratic primary field released today by Suffolk/USA Today, Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard is leading California senator Kamala Harris, by one point, a surprising new development in the race.

Former vice president Joe Biden comes in first place at 26 percent, trailed by Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who falls nearly ten points behind him at 17 percent. Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has only half the support Biden does (13 percent), and South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg comes in fourth at 10 percent. Gabbard is in a more distant fifth place with 4 percent, followed by Harris and businessman Andrew Yang, each of whom has the support of 3 percent of voters.

This poll, which counts toward qualifying for both the November and December Democratic debates, puts Gabbard just one poll away from making it into November’s debate. In order to make it into the next debate — which will be hosted on November 20 by MSNBC and the Washington Post — candidates must have received contributions from 165,000 donors over the course of their campaigns. They also must meet one of two polling criteria: either two polls in which they achieve at least 5 percent support in an early primary state (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina) or four polls in which they achieve at least 3 percent support in national polls or in those same early primary states.

So far, Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris, and Yang have qualified for November’s debate, as have Senators Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Cory Booker (D., N.J.), and billionaire businessman Tom Steyer. Along with Gabbard, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke and former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro have reached the donor threshold but have not yet amassed enough polls to qualify.

The new poll from Suffolk/USA Today also puts Gabbard halfway to the number of polls needed to qualify for December’s Democratic debate, which will be held on December 19 and hosted by PBS and Politico. To be on stage, Democratic candidates must have obtained contributions from 200,000 donors, as well as reach at least 6-percent support in two surveys of early primary states or at least 4-percent support in four national surveys or early primary states.

Polls released between October 16 and December 12 will count toward their totals. Only four Democrats have already qualified for December’s debate: Biden, Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg.

Gabbard’s boost in this latest poll comes after what was widely hailed as a successful debate performance earlier this month. The Hawaii representative also has weathered attacks from former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who suggested Gabbard was a Russian asset.

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