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Campaign 2020: Democratic Voters’ Interest and Knowledge

An AP-NORC Poll conducted in June 2019 looks at Democratic voters’ interest in the campaign and knowledge of candidates.

​With a crowded field of more than 20 candidates, the first Democratic debate of the 2020 presidential primary election will be held on June 26 and 27, 2019 in Miami. Ahead of the debate, only 22% of those who say they are registered to vote and identify as a Democrat or lean Democratic say they know a lot about where the Democratic candidates stand on the issues, while 62% know a little. Fifteen percent of Democratic voters say they know nothing at all.  

A large number of these self-reported Democratic voters say they are interested in the 2020 presidential election, but only 35% say they’re paying much attention so far. Thirty-six percent have started to pay some attention to the campaign and 29% haven’t paid much attention at all. Older Democratic voters and college graduates are more inclined to say they have started to pay attention to the campaign than younger or less educated Democrats.  Forty-four percent of self-identified liberals are paying a lot of attention to the campaign, compared with 28% of moderates or conservatives. 

While 79% of Democratic voters describe themselves as very interested in the 2020 presidential election, 59% are anxious about the election.  Half of Democratic voters are frustrated with the campaign, and 31% say they are excited.  Democratic voters under 35 are more likely to say they are excited or anxious than older voters.  

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Democratic voters are particularly interested in candidates with prior experience in elected office, while a candidate’s race or gender produces less excitement. 

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Six women are currently running for the Democratic nomination. While most Democratic voters say a candidate's gender would not make any difference, 49% of women say they would be more excited to vote for a female candidate, along with 28% of men.  Only about 10% of men or women say they would be more excited to vote for a man. 

About 70% of Democratic voters say that whether a candidate is black, Latino, or Asian would have no effect on their support.  About 20% of non-Hispanic white Democratic voters say they would be more excited to vote for a Latino candidate and about 33% of non-white voters say they would be more enthusiastic about a Latino candidate. 

There is a 40 year age gap between the youngest and oldest Democrats currently vying for the 2020 presidential nomination. Sixty-five percent of Democratic voters say an older candidate would not make them any more or less excited, and 55% say the same about a younger candidate.  

The nationwide poll was conducted June 13-17, 2019, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,116 adults, of whom 507 said they were registered to vote and identify as a Democrat or leaned Democratic. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 6.4 percentage points for registered Democratic voters.