Category Archives: National Survey

A Biden Resurgence?

Former Vice President, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 25, 2019 — A series of recently released national political polls finds former Vice President Joe Biden re-establishing the type of horse race leads over the Democratic field that he enjoyed before the debate process first began. Yet, how reliable are the polls?

CNN, YouGov, Emerson College, and HarrisX, all report new data and see Biden again posting significant leads, two of which are well beyond the polling margin of error.

CNN (Oct. 17-20; 424 US Democratic registered voters) gives the ex-VP a 34-19-16 percent lead over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). HarrisX (Oct. 21-22; 440 US registered Democratic voters) finds the Biden lead reaching 27-19-14 percent over Warren and Sanders. Emerson College (Oct. 18-21; 430 US Democratic likely voters) sees a similarly close cut among the top three candidates, but they find Sen. Sanders slipping past Warren into second place. The Emerson split shows Biden up 27-25-21 percent over Sanders and Warren, respectively.

Looking more closely at the polling methodology for each, we find that all three of these surveys have very low sample sizes, which means the error factor is high. The respective respondent universes are only between 424 and 440 people from which to derive a national trend. These numbers are more typically found in a congressional district or small state survey.

The YouGov poll (Oct. 20-22; 628 US Democratic likely voters) used a larger national sample and found a much tighter standing among the candidates, but with the prevalent Biden-Warren-Sanders order intact through a 24-21-15 percent result. In all of the aforementioned surveys, no other candidate reaches double-digit support.

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Behind the Polls: Is Warren Really Up?

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 10, 2019 — The publication, Market Watch, carried a story that the Drudge Report included on their daily national site yesterday indicating that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had topped former Vice President Joe Biden in four of five most recent national polls, but they didn’t cover the entire polling picture. (Market Watch story: A new front-runner for the 2020 Democrats? Warren edges Biden in average of polls)

The MW story cited Warren leading Biden in the Quinnipiac University survey (Oct. 4-7; 646 registered US voters), the Investors Business Daily/TIPP Poll (Sept. 26-Oct. 3; 341 registered US voters), The Economist/YouGov study (Sept. 28-Oct. 1; 602 likely US Democratic primary voters), and the Monmouth University (Sept. 23-29; 434 registered US voters) survey. Her aggregate edge fell between one and four percentage points, yet neither candidate broke 30 percent in any of the polls.

“With Biden facing questions over the Ukraine and China because of the Trump impeachment inquiry, and Sen. Sanders now experiencing health problems, Sen. Warren could soon be establishing herself as the clear front-runner and person to beat …”

The only other highlighted survey came from Politico/Morning Consult (Sept. 30-Oct. 6; 16,529 likely US Democratic primary voters) that actually found the former vice president continuing to lead by his typical 12-point margin, 33-21 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recording 19 percent support.

The story’s premise is that these polls suggest that Sen. Warren has already caught Biden and that she may well be the new national Democratic leader. There are several reasons why this might not be the correct conclusion, however.

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Multiple Choice, Multiple Candidates

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 16, 2019 — The international polling firm YouGov for The Economist magazine just completed a major 86-question survey of 1,500 US adults (Sept. 8-10; online through an opt-in panel), 1,182 of whom are registered voters and found many interesting results. The most unique, however, might be their question asking the self-identified primary or caucus attending Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents (632) just how many of their party’s presidential candidates they would consider supporting.

The purpose of the question was to test for multiple responses; therefore, most respondents named several candidates. Possibly the most interesting phase of the response process was that only one candidate exceeded 50 percent under this format, and the person receiving the 55 percent consideration factor might not be who you would name with your first guess.

Of the 20 candidates identified in the questionnaire, 10 broke into double digits. This is not particularly surprising when remembering that respondents were encouraged to give more than one candidate they are considering and, in fact, could name as many individuals as they liked.

But the candidate receiving the 55 percent mention factor was not former Vice President Joe Biden. Rather, it was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and this type of outcome could be quite significant in determining who people might ultimately support. Biden was second but failed to reach a majority even from a respondent pool who could render multiple choices. He posted a 48 percent score.

In third position was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (40 percent), so here again we see these three candidates, Warren, Biden, and Sanders, capturing the top positions by a wide margin.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was fourth with 32 percent followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who was named by 27 percent of the sample. Others in double digits were New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 18 percent, ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke recording 14 percent, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro posting 13 percent, with Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York City businessman Andrew Yang both registering 11 percent under this format.

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The Committed Choices

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 21, 2019 — The Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, of which many Democratic presidential primary questions were asked, but one was particularly interesting.

The survey was taken from a universe of 5,766 panelists who agreed to respond to online Pew polls. For this study, conducted during the July 22 through August 4 period, 4,175 of those individuals did in fact respond, or 72.4 percent of those queried. From this respondent subset, 1,757 individuals who self-identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters were questioned about the presidential primary.

The ballot test was not particularly noteworthy in that the results were mostly in line with other national polls being reported within the same time frame. According to Pew, former Vice President Joe Biden led the group, but with just a 26 percent preference score, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 16 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 12 percent, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claiming 11 percent support. All others, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg polled in single digits.

But the most interesting question had to do with the individuals’ committed choices. The group was asked about their enthusiasm toward the candidates and whether they were attracted to only their stated choice or if other Democratic contenders also excited them. This question was asked to gauge strength of support.

The aggregate response showed that 35 percent were only enthused about their candidate of choice, while 63 percent said several of the candidates enthused them. Though he finished a rather distant third on the overall ballot test, it is Sen. Sanders who registers the most committed support.

A majority of the Sanders voters, 51 percent, responded that they are only enthused about his candidacy and feel the same about none of the other Democratic contenders. He is the only candidate to command a such a high committed support percentage.

Biden registered 45 percent who said they are only enthused for him, but 53 percent said others attracted their attention, as well. The candidate who had the least committed support, despite her defined rise in most national polls, was Sen. Warren. Only 19 percent of her voters say they are only committed to her, while 80 percent of her contingent are also enthused by other candidates. Sen. Harris scored slightly better, with 22 percent saying only she enthuses them, while 78 percent of her voters see other candidates they also like.

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Polling Series: New Pattern Emerges

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 14, 2019 — The HarrisX polling firm just completed conducting three rolling national Democratic presidential primary polls, and while they confirm other data finding former Vice President Joe Biden leading the race, he does so only in the low 30s. This is a number range far below what he needs to win a first-ballot nomination. The data does, however, reveal a new contender consistently placing second.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont

HarrisX conducted the survey trio from Aug. 7-12 that covered the periods of Aug. 7-10, 8-11, and 9-12. The sample sizes were substantial and almost identical in size, ranging from 1,346-1,350.

The HarrisX findings when compared with other recent polling yield a first-place finish for Biden. The three studies post him to a pair of 30 percent finishes and one 31 percent showing.

But, perhaps the more interesting placement comes in examining who finished second. In contrast with the conclusions of other national polls that show Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placing definitively in second place, the HarrisX series finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) returning to that position.

The three polls project a consistent Biden-Sanders-Warren finish, with the leader scoring close to a 2:1 margin over his closest rival.

The research trifecta produced the following results:

Aug. 9-12; 1,346 registered or self-identified US Democratic voters
Biden 30%
Sanders 16%
Warren 10%
Harris 6%
Buttigieg 5%
O’Rourke 4%

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