weather icon Clear

RJ poll: Democrats beating Trump among nonpartisans

Updated February 7, 2020 - 4:49 pm

A Review-Journal poll of Nevada nonpartisan voters shows President Donald Trump trailing in hypothetical matchups with top Democratic rivals.

The results of the poll, which surveyed 402 likely nonpartisan voters from Feb. 2-4, found that former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren each have slight leads over Trump in hypothetical, head-to-head November matchups.

Nonpartisans make up about 22 percent of Nevada’s active voter base and will be essential to either party’s hopes of winning the battleground state this year. The poll, presented in partnership with AARP Nevada and conducted by Washington, D.C.-based WPA Intelligence, is part of “The Middle,” the Review-Journal’s yearlong look at nonpartisan voters.

Fifty percent of poll respondents favored Biden to 44 percent for Trump. Sanders scored 49 percent to Trump’s 44 in his matchup, with Warren netting 48 percent to Trump’s 44 percent. Warren was the only challenger whose lead was inside the poll’s 4.9 percentage-point margin of error.

The poll also shed light on what issues are important to some nonpartisans heading into the 2020 election, as well as their general disapproval of government, disinterest in voting and how they feel about the Democratic field.

Biden, Warren, Sanders and Trump were the most recognizable candidates for the respondents. Most have already formed clear opinions on the president and his would-be challengers.

Forty-five percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Trump, compared with 52 percent unfavorable.

Democratic presidential candidates broke down like this: Biden (47 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable), Sanders (41 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable) and Warren (40 percent favorable, 48 percent unfavorable).

“Nevadans are looking for a candidate who can beat Donald Trump,” Biden campaign spokesman Vedant Patel said. “And, consistently, they have trusted Joe Biden to be the candidate to build a broad and diverse coalition necessary to send Donald Trump packing in November.”

The Trump, Sanders and Warren campaigns declined to comment on the poll’s findings.

The rest of the Democratic field was a bit of a mystery to respondents.

About one-third of the group had not heard of or formed an opinion on former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who holds a slight lead in Monday’s bitterly contested Iowa caucuses. For Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, that number was 43 percent.

Favorability for the other Democratic candidates: Buttigieg (34 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable), businessman Tom Steyer (39 favorable, 36 percent unfavorable), Klobuchar (34 percent favorable, 23 percent unfavorable) and author Andrew Yang (36 percent favorable, 23 percent unfavorable).

The poll participants also voiced their displeasure with Congress, with 57 percent choosing unfavorable to 28 percent favorable.

Margins were much closer for the Democratic Party (48 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable) and the Republican Party (43 percent favorable to 49 percent unfavorable). Their appraisal of Trump’s presidential tenure — 47 percent approval to 49 percent disapproval — was an even split statistically.

The poll also found that voting Trump out of office was the top issue for 29 percent of respondents, while 10 percent said keeping him in the White House was their main goal. The economy (8 percent), choosing a preferred candidate (8 percent) and civic duty (7 percent) rounded out the voters’ top five listed reasons for heading to the polls.

Trevor Smith, the research director for WPA Intelligence, said the nonpartisan sample group matches up pretty well with a typical general election group, meaning these nonpartisans lean in many of the same ways that Republicans and Democrats do.

About 30 percent of those surveyed identified as conservative, while 43 percent said they were politically moderate and 20 percent considered themselves liberal.

Most said they were lifelong nonpartisans. More than half of the 33 percent of respondents who previously belonged to a party were once Democrats, and 35 percent were previously registered Republicans.

Thirty-eight percent said they’ve voted for more Democrats than Republicans in past elections, while 29 percent said the opposite. Another 29 percent said their votes depended on the person.

That is, of course, if they voted at all.

A staggering 40 percent of the respondents had not voted in any of the past four elections.

“I think these voters are actually very disengaged,” Smith said. “They don’t pay much attention. They may be really upset about a few certain things, but they’re most worried about taking care of their bottom line — putting food on the table.”

With 92 percent of respondents pledging to “definitely” vote and an additional 7 percent saying they would “probably” vote, Smith said there could be a lot of first-time voters in the sample group.

Contact Rory Appleton at RAppleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Nevada caucus in photos
Best shots from the Review-Journal photo staff's coverage of the Nevada Caucus, Saturday, February 22, 2020.
Bernie Sanders announces his Nevada caucus win to supporters in Texas
At a rally in San Antonio, Texas, Bernie Sanders announces winning the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Joe Biden addresses supporters in Las Vegas
Joe Biden energizes a crowd of supporters at the IBEW Hall in Las Vegas after the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Tweet highlights from the 2020 Nevada Democratic caucus
Confusion, flaring tempers and misinformed volunteers highlighted Review-Journal tweets during the Nevada Democratic caucus.
Voters comment on Nevada Democratic caucus - VIDEO
Nevada caucusgoers comment on the process from locations across the Las Vegas Valley, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doolittle Community Center hosts caucuses - VIDEO
The Doolittle Community Center hosted six precincts in one room for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, and voters engaged in debate and discussion about who to lead each precinct, Feb. 22, 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Desert Oasis High School has wait for caucus check-in - VIDEO
James Strange has been waiting in line to caucus for the first time for 45 minutes and some said they have been waiting for an hour at Desert Oasis High School for the Nevada Democratic caucuses. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Conservative guru encourages Republicans to vote in Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Republican activist Chuck Muth encourages his fellow GOP members to change party affiliation for a day to elect Bernie Sanders. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee at Desert Oasis High School - VIDEO
Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev., stopped by the Nevada Democratic caucus at Desert Oasis High School in Las Vegas, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day in Summerlin - VIDEO
Out-of-state caucus observer Ken Valz speaks about the Nevada Democratic caucuses at Palo Verde High School, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Doors open for Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Caucusgoers are lining up Saturday morning to take part in the Nevada Democratic caucuses across the state (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day at East Last Vegas Community Center - VIDEO
Registration begins at the East Las Vegas Community Center for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It’s caucus day in Nevada - VIDEO
Democrats will gather at over 250 locations across the state to declare their presidential preferences in the Nevada caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High - VIDEO
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High in Henderson, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren holds rally with Julian Castro
Elizabeth Warren held her Get Out the Caucus Block Party with Secretary Julián Castro at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater.
Trump caps western swing with campaign rally in Las Vegas
President Trump speaks to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands gathered at the Las Vegas Convention Center during a tour across the western United States.
Anti-Trump Protestors at LVCC Rally - Video
President Trump speaks at a Keep America Great rally as a small group of protesters gather outside the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Thousands gather for Trump rally
Thousands showed up for President Donald Trump’s rally Friday morning, forming a line that stretched nearly a quarter mile around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center
Trump supporters camp outside the Las Vegas Convention Center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, where President Trump will held a rally on Friday in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
President Trump lands in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Donald Trump landed in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as part of a four-day western state swing. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Long lines during early voting in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The final day of the Nevada Democratic Party’s early presidential caucuses wrapped up Tuesday, as thousands of Democrats lined up at 55 locations around the state for their last shot at filing an early preference card before the traditional caucuses on Saturday. Long lines were seen at CSN Charleston in Las Vegas. (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Last day for early voting at Culinary Union - VIDEO
Voters were still in line just before 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, as early voting in the Nevada Democratic Party caucuses came to a close. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pigeons wearing MAGA hats in Las Vegas - VIDEO
A flock of pigeons wearing Make America Great Again hats and one sporting a Donald Trump hairdo invaded downtown Las Vegas late Tuesday, following their release by an anonymous group: P.U.T.I.N. (Pigeons, United to Interfere Now). (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tuesday is last day to early vote in Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses ends Tuesday, with sites open throughout Clark County. (Michael Quine and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk pay for child care workers - Video
Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer talk to care in action about the importance of Medicare for All, paid leave and child care. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Elizabeth Warren barnstorms Nevada ahead of caucuses - VIDEO
Warren is trying to drum up enthusiasm about her campaign after finishing fourth in the New Hampshire primary. Her rally drew about 400 people to the student union of the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sen. Jacky Rosen encourages early voting at Culinary Workers 226 - VIDEO
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., spoke to those casting early caucus votes at the Culinary Workers hall on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses continues Tuesday. The Nevada Caucuses are Saturday, Feb. 22. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2020 candidates rally in Southern Nevada ahead of caucus - VIDEO
2020 candidates Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders held rallies all over Southern Nevada on Saturday ahead of the Democratic caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First day of early voting - VIDEO
Nevada Democrats turned out in force on Saturday for the first day of early voting in the Democratic presidential caucuses.
Biden and Sully Sullenberger speak in Henderson - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden and famed pilot Sully Sullenberger spoke at Sun City MacDonald Ranch to get out the vote for early voting for the Nevada caucus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: Bernie Sanders leads Democratic presidential candidates - VIDEO
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the presidential field by a solid margin among likely Democratic caucus-goers heading into Nevada’s four-day early voting period, with with 25 percent of respondents expressing support. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Poll: caucus vs. primary - VIDEO
A new Nevada Poll finds two-thirds of likely Democratic caucus-goers surveyed in a Review-Journal poll say they’d like to see Nevada replace its caucuses with a secret-ballot primary election to determine support for a presidential nominee. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus events Leading up to Caucus Day 2020 - VIDEOl
As presidential candidates make their way to Las Vegas, here's a look at events, dates and times for the days leading up to Nevada's Caucus Day 2020 on Feb. 22. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus and Early Voting - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus discussion with Steve Sebelius about the Nevada Caucus and early voting.
Election 2020: Nevada Caucus - Video
AARP's Nevada Caucus Discussion with Steve Sebelius. Join us as we discuss the Nevada Caucus process.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yvanna Cancela Speaks on Supporting Biden - Video
The RJ Politics podcast crew sits down with Nevada State Senator Yvanna Cancela to discuss why she is supporting former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Nonpartisan voters may hold the key to Nevada 2020

Nonpartisan Nevada voters have grown by nearly 90 percent in the last decade, outpacing both Republicans and Democrats; they are sought after by both parties as they plan 2020 campaign strategies.