February 2, 2020

Joe Biden Still the Top Choice of Likely Democratic Voters in East Harlem

Bernie Sanders narrowly behind, followed by Elizabeth Warren

Democratic voters in East Harlem, one of the country’s most diverse and economically challenged communities, narrowly picked Joe Biden as their first choice for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, in a poll released today. Biden received 32.3% of the first-place votes, followed by Bernie Sanders (30.7%) and Elizabeth Warren (22.9%). There was then a wide gap to the rest of the candidates, with Mike Bloomberg (6.5%) finishing fourth, followed by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Kobuchar (3.2% each).

A similar poll in July 2019 also had shown Joe Biden (30.5%) in first place, followed by Warren (22.9%) and Sanders (17.8%). Both polls were conducted by Union Settlement (www.unionsettlement.org), the oldest and largest social service provider in East Harlem.

“Although Joe Biden remains the top choice among East Harlem likely voters, the withdrawal of multiple candidates since July has had a clear impact on the race,” said David Nocenti, Executive Director of Union Settlement. “For example, Kamala Harris was in fourth place in our July poll with 14.4% of the first-place votes. She has now dropped out, and support of Bernie Sanders has increased significantly.”

Because most of the focus of the race has been on the largely rural “early voting” states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — Union Settlement has conducted these polls to draw attention to the preference of voters in dense, low-income urban areas. East Harlem, which has a population of over 125,000 residents living within an area of less than three square miles. In relation to other cities in the country, East Harlem would be the largest city in New Hampshire, the second-largest city in South Carolina, the third-largest city in Iowa, and the fifth-largest city in Nevada.

The online poll, which was conducted from January 21-27, asked voters to rank the candidates in order of preference and to respond to certain demographic questions. Of the respondents, 65 were registered Democratic “likely voters.” [1]

The following chart lists the rank, based on percentage of first-place votes received in the January poll:[2]



% of first choice votes

January 2020

% of first choice votes

July 2019


Change in percentage


Change in rank

Joe Biden 32.3% 30.5% +0.2% #1 → #1
Bernie Sanders 30.7% 17.8% +12.9% #3 → #1
Elizabeth Warren 22.6% 22.9% +0.3% #3 → #3
Mike Bloomberg 6.5% N/A +6.5% N/A → #4
Pete Buttigieg 3.2% 2.5% +0.7% #6 → #5(T)
Amy Klobuchar 3.2% 0.0% +3.2% #13 → #5(T)
Tom Steyer 1.6% N/A +1.6% N/A → #7

Although Sanders and Biden have separated themselves from the rest of the field in terms of first-place choices, the Union Settlement poll is a “ranked preference” poll, allowing respondents to rank as many choices as they wished in order of preference. This shows the potential strength of candidates who might not be the top choice of many voters, but who have broad overall appeal and are ranked high consistently across the board. These results showed that Elizabeth Warren has significant support among voters who did not pick her as their first choice.

The following chart shows the average point totals[3] for all 12 candidates in the poll:



Average point total First place votes rank Point total


Joe Biden 10.00 #2 #1
Elizabeth Warren 9.94 #3 #2
Bernie Sanders 9.55 #1 #3
Mike Bloomberg 9.18 #4 #4
Pete Buttigieg 8.74 #5(T) #5
Amy Klobuchar 8.26 #5(T) #6
Andrew Yang 7.97 N/A #7
Michael Bennet 4.82 N/A #8
Tom Steyer 4.42 #7 #9
Tulsi Gabbard 4.27 N/A #10
John Delaney 4.10 N/A #11
Deval Patrick 3.91 N/A #12

About Union Settlement

Union Settlement is an on-the-ground resource for East Harlem residents of all ages, and a passionate advocate for the needs of underserved communities. Established in 1895, Union Settlement provides a broad array of education, wellness and community-building programs to over 10,000 East Harlem residents each year, including early childhood education, afterschool and summer youth programs, college preparation, job readiness, English language classes, behavioral health counseling, small business assistance, senior centers, Meals on Wheels and more.

For more information about Union Settlement, visit www.unionsettlement.org.

[1] The poll also included Republican voters, as well as individuals who are not registered with any party, but there were too few respondents in those groups to provide reliable results.

[2] The chart excludes candidates who received no first-place votes in the January poll, as well as those who were included in the July poll but later dropped out of the race.

[3] With 12 total candidates in the poll, a first-place vote is worth 12 points, a second-place vote is worth 11 points, and so on, with a last-place vote worth 1 point. For example, a candidate listed first by every voter would have an average point total of 12. A candidate listed third (10 points) by 50% of the voters and seventh (6 points) by 50% of the voters would have an average point total of 8.