About that poll.


You all know the poll I’m talking about, the one from CNN that shows pretty much anybody not named Warren kicking Trump’s pasty, orange tufted ass out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next November. And Warren herself is only 1 point behind, well within the margin of error, so I wouldn’t start using Mozart’s Requiem Mass for her stage entry music just yet if I were her.

Biden, Bernie, Beto, Harris, and even Mayor Pete all have their way with Trump in the new poll, and all but Buttigieg are outside of the margin of error for the poll. But when you look a little closer, there are some indicators that contain even more positive news for the Democrats, both individually and writ large, even this early in the game.

I’ll take halfsies!

In the poll, Biden, Beto, and Bernie all top the 50% marker. This is important for two reasons. The first one is psychological. Nothing gives you confidence quite like looking in the paper and seeing that over half the country likes you. Hell, I get all warm and fuzzy if I get the thought that half of my readers tolerate me. Also, once that 50% marker is breached, it normally takes something more serious to cause a candidate to drop back below it again, success breeds success.

But the second reason is even more important, at least to me. I have scoured my brain, and I covered this shit more closely than a lot of others, and try as I might, I cannot recall a single poll after the convention that showed Hillary Clinton getting over 50% of the vote. She rather stubbornly seemed to cap at about 48.5%. A;so, she was seldom if ever able to grow her lead over Trump to the point where it was outside of the margin of error in most polls. The fact that 4 current Democratic candidates, Beto, Bernie, Kamala Harris, and Biden are all outside of the margin of error, while Buttigieg is barely within the margin at 3%. This may signal Trump fatigue.

“Electability” is not an issue, at least not yet

In most polls recently, by far and away the #1 issue for Democratic voters in a potential candidate is electability. I myself recently wrote at some length that it didn’t matter how great the plans and programs of the candidates were, they didn’t mean jack if the candidate didn’t win! But that doesn’t seem to be an issue yet, not when you have 5 different candidates that can beat Trump at this early stage, if the polling is to be believed.

Also, remember this. This poll was a binary choice, Trump vs (insert name here), among random voters. Let’s take Beto for an example. In his 52%, those weren’t just Beto voters, you had Bernie voters in there, Kamala voters, Biden voters, all of them. But when faced with a binary choice, that didn’t include their preferred candidates name, they didn’t cop out to “no opinion,” or “another candidate,” they immediately pulled the trigger for the named candidate with a “D” after his name. As long as the Democratic candidates don’t savage each other in the primaries, this will make it easier for the party to heal united coming out of the convention.

Home, home on the “range”

If you’re a Trump supporter, or even worse, a Trump campaign strategist, there is something in this pol that should scare you silly, yet at the same time feel as well worn and comfortable as Mr Rogers old cardigan sweater.

And that’s Trump’s range in the polling. In this poll, he varied between 42-48%, with the majority being between 44-47%. If that sounds familiar to you, it should. Since he announced his candidacy, Trump has never topped 50% in any major poll, not even during his alleged “honeymoon cruise” in the weeks immediately following his election and inauguration. With his obnoxious personal behavior and policies, Trump is like a submarine commander, permanently underwater in the polls. And if you’re going to be in that range, your only hope is to keep your opponents in the same range, not letting them slide over the 50% marker. Especially when your dimwit campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has already announced that you’re going to try to patch together the same narrow electoral path you stumbled down the last time, again. Nothing quite like letting the enemy know which foxholes to shoot at, is there?

This party is by invitation only

There’s another thing I noticed when looking a little closer at the numbers in this poll. When you add up the numbers between Trump and his individual opponent, the total is quite high, in the 94-96% range. That leaves very little wriggle room for outsiders. Back in 2016, Clinton’s polling against Trump was more like 47-44, 46-43, that sort of thing. That left almost 10% of voters undecided, and ripe for the picking for third party nimrods like Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson, and Jill “Thanks for the lovely dinner Vlad” Stein to swoop in and pluck precious votes. Even this early, voters seem to almost instinctively feel the importance of this election, and its consequences, so this will be no time for a wasted 3rd party “protest” vote.

Bernie singing the blues?

This has nothing to do with the specific CNN poll used for the above categories, but with recent polling in general. When Joe Biden announced he was officially running, he received a “bounce” in the polls. This is almost automatic for any major candidate who announces, I even have a pet name for it, I call it the “announce bounce.”

But there was something unusual in Biden’s bounce this time around. Normally, while the newly minted candidate bounces up a bit, it doesn’t normally come at the expense of other candidates, it’s just a little swell of enthusiasm for the newbie. But in at least 3 major polls taken after Biden’s announcement, not only did Biden surge far more than normal, but Bernie Sanders fell like a stone, dropping to 3rd place in one poll, behind Elizabeth Warren. This caught my eye as particularly unusual.

There are two explanations that come immediately to my mind for this, although there could be others, and I may well be wrong. The first is the dread likability. In a recent article, when I compared the two, I opined that Bernie Sanders reminded you of the grandfather that yelled at you to “get off of his damn lawn!”, while Biden reminded you more of the grandfather that wanted you to “Come over here and pull on my finger.” That wasn’t intended as an insult to either one, just an observation on their personalities and public personas. But I can’t help but wonder, in this time when all of our nerves are worn raw by the hostile and angry rhetoric of El Pendejo Presidente, if some weary Democratic voters aren’t leaning towards the kinder, gentler, “Aw, come over here, it’s OK” persona that Biden emanates.

The other possible reason is more politically practical. In 2016, Bernie Sanders came out of nowhere, he was the “outsider,” raging against the system, and espousing outside of the mainstream ideas like free college, universal Medicare-for-all healthcare, and soaking the rich. But this isn’t 2016, and Bernie Sanders isn’t the lone wolf outsider taking those claims anymore. There are multiple candidates out there talking about repealing the Trump tax cuts, a “wealth tax,” one form or another of universal healthcare coverage, and some form of free state college and/or student loan debt relief. And at least some of them are rolling out actual, hard numbers proposals, showing exactly how they will do these things within the framework of governing. before he announced his official entry, many pundits wondered if Joe Biden had “missed his window” by not running in 2016, and that his time had passed. I think that the same question can be fairly asked, if Bernie Sanders didn’t “miss his window: in 2016 by not winning, because his signature issues aren’t his sile property anymore, and other candidates touting the same ideas may have opinions of other ancillary issues that voters find more attractive than Sanders holds.

Now granted, it’s obscenely early yet, and national mood swings over the next year are going to turn the Democratic primary field into one giant checkers board. But, regardless of who are sitting in the top tier, if polling continues to show a majority of the top tier candidate pummeling Trump, especially if they’re crossing the 50% threshold, and maintaining it, then it will continue to look like the majority of the country has had more than their fill of The Pampers President, and as long as the eventual Democratic nominee doesn’t walk out on the stage at the convention wearing a crown and an ermine cape, we should be just fine. In the meantime, carry on dudes and dudettes, we’re watching and listening.

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  1. I will give a 3rd possible reason for Sanders declining and that is the whole convicted felons in prison voting. In light of that possibility there is a Politico piece up about the ACLU sending out people to question candidates on positions regarding their issues. They sent a young man to ask Sanders about prisoners voting and then publicized the answer to media outlets and of course then dt said how radical out of step Democrats were.

    “[t]he American Civil Liberties Union, which is coaching activists like Rick as part of a multi-million dollar, below-the-radar campaign to get the 2020 candidates on record about its civil liberties priorities. In Hanover, N.H., an ACLU-linked voter got Kamala Harris’ commitment to support adding a third-gender marker on federal ID cards. The group is also putting Democratic hopefuls on the spot with sensitive questions about immigration and abortion rights.”

    “Each of the exchanges have been captured on video and posted to YouTube, and the answers largely reflect a Democratic primary field that’s veering further to the left. But the ACLU is making that shift happen far more quickly and visibly than it might have otherwise — to the apparent delight of Trump and his supporters.”

    “In the opening months of the campaign, the organization has trained hundreds of volunteers in early voting states and sent them to more than 150 events where they ask questions around planned topics. To the organizers, the field of more than 20 candidates has a long way to go to meet its demands. But already the effort is forcing some staunch civil liberties and voting rights advocates to grapple with how their priorities are playing out on a large stage.”


  2. Well, I know if I’d been polled, when Bernie’s name came up, I would DEFINITELY be in the “another candidate” category.
    Bernie is NOT A DEMOCRAT. He’s a lousy opportunist and the Democratic Party is doing itself NO favors by letting the man run for the Democratic nomination.
    The man VOWED in 2016, after the Convention, to run AS A DEMOCRAT IN ALL FUTURE ELECTIONS (he pulled the old “I was elected to the Senate by Vermont voters as an Independent so I can’t possibly, in good conscience, become a Democrat” canard) and what happened in 2018 when he was up for re-election? He ran as an Independent.
    He retains that “Independent” status in ALL official Senate matters but he wants to be the Democratic nominee for President? When he won’t even commit to being a for-real Democrat in the Senate?
    I want a DEMOCRAT. Someone who’s willing to BE a Democrat more often than 18 months every four years.

  3. I was a strong Sanders supporter in 2016 (in the primaries, of course – Hillary in the general). I find myself, not exactly less drawn to him, but less restricted to him this time, because last time he was the only progressive in the contest This time there are enough people interested, and enough of them are progressives, that I feel I have a choice. I still like Bernie, but he is no longer the only one I can relate to. I think that is positive.

    • He wasn’t “the only progressive in the contest” – it’s that the media never covered Clinton the way they did Sanders , so people didn’t see her policy proposals, all of which were progressive and would have benefited the entire country.

  4. I trust the poll, and polling in general, but only to do what polls do…and this one can offer some (minor) insight into how Trump fares vs various contenders, it it doesn’t really offer much insight into which contender is better suited.

    This is counterintuitive…when you see Smith at +9 and Jones at +6, it’s tempting to say that Smith is a stronger candidate. But respondents are answering in a universe where both those candidates are running, and their behavior will be based on that, not a true one-on-one race.

    The 2016 polling is a good case study of this effect. In those polls, Clinton supporters were highly likely to give Sanders a favorable rating and say they’d vote for him. (In fact, he had 78% approval from Clinton voters in May-June polls, which was one of his highest approval demographics, contrary to urban legend). Sanders supporters were much less likely to give Clinton favorables or say they’d vote for her – there was a protest element gong on there.

    Historically, any given candidate’s supporters come around in the same numbers. Thus, we have a case study in how the polls showing Sanders with a slightly higher margin vs Trump weren’t really saying he was necessarily a stronger candidate against Trump…cross comparing wasn’t mathematically valid.

    So overall the CNN poll shows a weak president. I don’t think it says much about which Dem is strongest. It looks like any have a solid chance at beating him.


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