I don’t think Wall Street sees much daylight between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Both are seen as wholly unacceptable options for president. But Democratic voters have a (probably less-informed) opinion of the two candidates.

Democratic primary voters nationwide see former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren as relatively close to their own political views but regard Sen. Bernie Sanders as significantly further to their left, a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows.

The Democrats see Biden as slightly more conservative than themselves and Warren as slightly more liberal, the poll found.

Given that perception, it’s easy to see why Biden is doing so well. What’s a Democrat to think, for example, when they look at the results of this recent ClimateNexus poll of out Texas that shows Biden and Trump tied but Trump beating Sanders by four and Warren by six?

If Biden and Warren are basically the same, why not go with the candidate who is putting Texas in play?

This isn’t an isolated example. Biden consistently polls as well as, and most often better than, any other Democrat matched up against the president. Maybe that’s a temporary state of affairs, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll is the only one to correctly predict that Trump would win in 2016, so their results should be taken seriously. I think their findings speak well of how Warren is running her campaign. Business tycoons might not be fooled, but a lot of voters falsely believe she’s closer ideologically to Biden than she is to Sanders, and it’s benefitting her greatly in the polls. By encouraging himself to be branded as the left-wing outlier in the race, Sanders seems stuck in place with little room for growth. It’s much better to be in Warren’s position where she’s dividing the hard left’s support with Sanders but also dividing the center’s support with Biden.

Having said that, Sanders may be stagnating overall but he’s still right in the mix in a three-way race, and he just got a poll result out of New Hampshire that shows him in the lead there. Of course, there’s another poll that shows in third place in the Granite State, but he’s certainly competitive.  He’s not going to go much lower, which means he should collect delegates in nearly every state, but I have trouble seeing how he breaks out of the high-teens/low-twenties and starts winning a lot of contests. Warren is certainly better situated than he is to pick up any defectors from Biden.

For the same reason, she’s demonstrating much more promise than Sanders as a general election candidate. She has more ability than he does to be nimble and adjust, and people are more willing to see in her what they want to see, versus Bernie. who seemingly hasn’t changed a thing since he first ran to be the mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the 1980’s.

In any case, it seems like Biden and Warren can and will eventually swap supporters. with relative ease, meaning that whoever wins out between them will probably capture the nomination.  Obviously, all caveats about it being very early apply here, but the shape of the race is becoming clear. Maybe Thursday’s debate in Houston will shake things up.

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