The latest poll also found that the Massachusetts senator is the preferred second choice for Sanders and Biden voters and a strong sense of support for gun control measures.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) leads the Democratic presidential field and is well positioned to pick up more support as other candidates drop out of the race, according to a new edition of the George Washington University Politics Poll.
The poll asked Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters for their first choices in the Democratic primary field.
Ms. Warren was the first choice for 27.8 percent of those voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was second with 21 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden was third with 18.4 percent. No other candidate was chosen by more than 5 percent of the group.
Ms. Warren is making inroads with other candidates’ supporters, too.
The same group of voters were asked for their second choice, should their main pick drop out. Ms. Warren was the second choice of 34 percent of polled voters who support another candidate. Of Mr. Biden’s supporters, 45.1 percent chose Ms. Warren as their second choice, and of Mr. Sanders’ supporters, 31.2 percent chose her.
“The numbers don’t look as good for Sanders and Biden,” poll co-director Danny Hayes said in a Washington Post analysis. “Sanders is the second choice of just 21 percent [of all Democratic and leaning voters], and Biden is the second choice of 17 percent.”
Dr. Hayes, an associate professor of political science at GW, also pointed out that “among supporters of the many candidates polling below 5 percent, 20 percent have Biden as their second choice and 18 percent have Warren.”
The poll, which was fielded Sept. 26 to 30, questioned 1,200 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
In the area of gun control, the poll found that most gun control measures are popular among voters of both parties. Of 10 possible changes to gun regulations, eight had support from more than half of those polled. The most popular proposals were preventing people with a history of mental illness from owning guns with support from 82 percent of those surveyed, requiring a five-day waiting period for purchase with 72.5 percent and raising the minimum age for buying any type of gun or ammunition to 21 with 68.2 percent.
The only two ideas without majority support were preventing people from carrying a concealed weapon (44.5 percent support, 44.9 percent oppose) and banning the sale of all handguns except those issued to law enforcement (30.5 percent support, 62.3 percent oppose).
While majorities supported a number of changes to gun laws, the public was quite skeptical that change will occur. Only 33 percent of respondents thought changes in gun policy were very or somewhat likely.