Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee for 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden, at a September 2019 debate in Houston with then-candidates Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee for 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden, at a September 2019 debate in Houston with then-candidates Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Racial, ideological differences among Democrats in concerns that likely nominee is an older white manFormer Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has the backing of the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning registered voters in the November general election contest against Donald Trump.

But after a primary campaign that saw the most diverse group of candidates in the party’s history – including six women, several black, Hispanic and Asian candidates and the first openly gay contender – 41% of Democratic registered voters say they are bothered that the likely Democratic nominee for the 2020 election is a white man in his 70s. About six-in-ten Democratic voters (59%) say this does not bother them, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand Democrats’ attitudes about the outcome of the 2020 presidential primary contests. We surveyed 4,917 U.S. adults April 7-12, 2020. In this analysis, we look at the 2,349 respondents who are Democratic or Democratic-leaning registered voters and who took the survey after Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign (April 8-12). Everyone who took part in the survey is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology. Here are the questions asked for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Democratic voters who are bothered that the likely nominee is an older white man are more liberal, more educated, younger and more likely to be white than those who are not bothered, according to the survey, which was conducted just after Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign.

Democratic voters with a postgraduate degree are the only educational group in which a majority (58%) say they are bothered the likely Democratic nominee is a white man in his 70s. In contrast, 76% those with no college experience and 59% of those with some college experience are not bothered by this.

More than six-in-ten Democratic voters 50 and older (65%) say it does not bother them that the likely Democratic nominee is a white man in his 70s, while those under age 50 are more divided in their views (47% say this bothers them, 52% say it does not).

These views also differ by race and ethnicity. About seven-in-ten black (72%) and Hispanic (70%) Democrats say they are not bothered the likely nominee is a white man in his 70s. By comparison, white Democrats are divided on this question: 49% say they are bothered and 51% say they are not.

Democrats who backed Biden, Sanders in primaries less concerned likely nominee is white man in his 70sPerhaps not surprisingly, these views are associated with which candidate voters backed on the eve of the first primaries and caucuses.

Nearly eight-in-ten of those who said in a January survey that Biden was their first choice for the Democratic presidential nomination (79%) now say the likely Democratic nominee being a white man in his 70s does not bother them. A narrower majority of those who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders in January (58%) say the same.

However, about six-in-ten Democratic voters who supported other candidates in January now say they are bothered that the likely Democratic nominee is an older white man. Voters who preferred Sen. Elizabeth Warren are particularly likely to hold this view: Nearly three-quarters (73%) say this, as do 57% of those who backed Pete Buttigieg and 52% of those who supported other candidates at the beginning of the year.

Democratic registered voters who are bothered the likely nominee is an older white man are slightly more likely than those who are not bothered by it to say they would vote for Biden in the November general election contest against Trump (89% vs. 83%). And they are especially likely to have a negative evaluation of the president: Nearly all in this group (97%) say they disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job in office, including nine-in-ten who strongly disapprove. Among Democratic voters who are not bothered the presumptive nominee is an older white man, 85% disapprove, including 72% who do so strongly.

Democrats overwhelmingly support Biden in general election, regardless of their concerns about race, age and gender of party’s likely nominee

Note: Here are the questions asked for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Amina Dunn  is a research analyst focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.
Jocelyn Kiley  is an associate director of research at Pew Research Center.