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Missouri 2020: Biden with Slim Lead on Sanders

An Emerson College/Nexstar Media poll of Democratic voters in Missouri finds a tight race between former Vice President Joe Biden at 48% and Senator Bernie Sanders at 44%, a statistical dead heat. Six-percent (6%) of voters were undecided or voting for someone else and 2% were voting for Tulsi Gabbard. The poll was conducted March 4-5, 2020, with a sample of n=425 of likely Democratic primary voters and a margin of error of +/- 4.7%.

The poll was conducted before Senator Elizabeth Warren had dropped out of the Presidential race on Thursday, however, Warren supporters were asked who their second choice candidates are. A majority, 53%, said that Sanders was their second choice, followed by 32% who said Biden was their second choice, 5% who chose Gabbard, and 10% who were undecided as to who their second choice candidate will be.

As has been the case in previous Emerson polls, there is a large age divide in support of the candidates. Of voters under the age of 50, 66% support Sanders, compared to 27% who support Biden. And of voters 50 and older, 70% support Biden, and 21% support Sanders. 

Among white voters, it is a tight race as both Biden and Sanders receive 47% support. While among non-white voters, Biden leads with 50% support followed by Sanders at 36%. 

Regionally Biden finds his support in the St. Louis area as he leads Sanders 63% to 31% there and in the middle of the state where he leads 49% to 41%. Sanders' strengths are in the north where he leads 57% to 40% and in the southern part of the state where he leads 48% to 40%. It appears the Kansas City area is the battleground in Missouri as Biden leads 49% to 46%.

Looking within income level, Sanders does strongest with voters whose household income is under $50,000 a year as he gets 52% support among that group compared to Biden who gets 42%. With voters whose household income is between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, Biden leads with 48% support, and Sanders receives 46% support. And among voters whose household income is over $100,000 a year, Biden leads with 63% support followed by Sanders with 31%. 

Nearly three-quarters (75%) of voters said their minds were made up regarding who to vote for and 25% said they could still change their mind and vote for someone else. According to this poll, 15% of voters have made up their minds in three days while 46% said they have known who they were voting for since before the Iowa Caucus on February 3rd.

The most important issue for Democratic primary voters is healthcare at 30% with the next three issues being the environment (17%), social issues (16%), and the economy (14%). 

A deeper dive into healthcare finds that 43% of voters support Medicare for All, while 27% support a public option. 10% want to keep things as they are, and 21% were undecided on which healthcare policy they would be supportive of. When asked which candidate had the best healthcare policy, Sanders lead with 43% and Biden followed at 40%.


In Missouri, a majority of Democratic primary voters, 60%, believe the US is not prepared to control the Coronavirus, while 21% thought the US was prepared and 19% were undecided.

A majority, 57%, said that Medicaid expansion in Missouri does not do enough for children in poverty. Just 17% said that it does and 26% were unsure. 

Caller ID

The Missouri Emerson College/Nexstar poll was conducted March 4-5, 2020. The sample for the Democratic Primary consisted of registered Democratic, Republican, and Independent very likely voters, n=425, with a Credibility Interval (CI) similar to a poll’s margin of error (MOE) of +/- 4.7 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, party, education, and region based on a 2016 turnout model. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines (n=174), SMS-to-online (n=74) and an online panel provided by MTurk (n=177).

Key Takeaways
  • Majority of Warren supporters choose Sanders as second choice
  • Healthcare most important issue for Democratic Primary Voters
  • Medicare for All ranks as the most popular health care option
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Spencer Kimball
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