A poll in early October showed Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders trailing in the key swing states where Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. In this prediction of the 2020 election, only the moderate Joe Biden defeated Trump. The Democrats freaked out; panic set in . Many leading pundits said Warren and Sanders were too far to the left to win the election. They would have to moderate their far left position. However, I think this is nonsense. Democrats should forget the polls, at least for now.
The poll in question was the New York Times / Siena College poll. Below are the central results of the poll.
How Trump fares among registered voters
|Pennsylvania (661)||Biden +3||
|Wisconsin (651)||Biden +3||
|Florida (650)||Biden +2||
|Arizona (652)||Biden +5||
|North Carolina (651)||Trump +2||
Now a week has passed and cooler heads are beginning to see that this one poll is not the end of the world. It is one poll in the big picture, and even that one poll is not all that convincing. The NYT/Siena College poll tells a more complicated story that just that the voters want moderates. More and more pundits are beginning to realize that Democrats should forget the polls for right now.
The short take is that even the poll itself is not very convincing. It really does not predict that only moderates will do well in 2020. When you look at it in detail, even the Socialist Barry Sanders beats moderates in several key categories. And besides, it is looking more and more like the winner of this election won’t be a mamby-pamby moderate something like Hillary Clinton, it will be a strong radical showing the nation the real way to make America great again. The real winner has to be able to take on Trump and beat him at his own game. I spelled out why a radical, not a moderate will win in my next to last post. And also why Democrats should forget the polls for now.
Below is the long story of the NYT / Siena College poll in all of its important details. This poll does not really say that American voters prefer moderates. This view is taken from an excellent article in the Nation Magazine published on November 9, 2019. The argument looks long and boring, but it think it is very important reading at this point in the election. And it isn’t long and boring. It is quite interesting.
“Even on its own terms, the New York Times and Siena College poll tells a more complicated story than just that the electorate wants moderates. After all, it shows Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, doing better than Elizabeth Warren, who claims to be a capitalist to her very bones. Further, the poll shows Sanders winning over Trump in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), which, if combined with secure Democratic states, would give Sanders the presidency. In Michigan, Sanders actually does 2 percent better than Biden, again complicating the narrative that moderation is the only path to victory.”
“The New York Times and Siena College poll is of high quality, so it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. But it is also only one data point. When it comes to polling, the best practice is to aggregate a number of polls. As polling maven Nate Silver cautions, “To do it right, you’d need to look at polls from many different polling orgs (and account for how they vary from one another) in all competitive states + national polls. There’s not enough data to do that yet, and even if there were, polling ~1 year out is not very accurate.”
“While there are not a huge number of other polls, there are enough that we can see the Times/Siena poll is an outlier. If it is read in conjunction with other credible polls, the situation looks much less dire. On Tuesday, The Washington Post released a poll showing Trump losing badly not just against the Democratic front-runners but also against candidates like Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris”.
“Former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) run strongest against the president nationally, with Biden leading by 17 points (56 per cent to 39 per cent), Warren by 15 points (55 per cent to 40 per cent) and Sanders by 14 points (55 per cent to 41 per cent). South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the other two Democrats tested against Trump, also lead the president among registered voters, with Buttigieg up by 52 percent to 41 percent, and Harris ahead by 51 percent to 42 percent”
“Looking at the Data For Progress Poll, Will Wilkinson of the Niskanen Center argued, “The Democratic candidate, whoever it is, can beat Trump in swing States, so nominate who you want and stop trying to game it out with nonsensically premature polling.” Definitely the Democrats should forget the polls right now. There will be plenty of time to pay attention to them as we get closer to the election.
“It’s not just that polls have to be read with caution. They also can’t be the only evidence. Actual elections also count for something. The special elections on Tuesday were consistent with almost every election since Trump’s 2016 victory. There’s been a consistent pattern of purple states turning blue, as in Virginia. In red states like Kentucky, Democrats are still facing steep odds but doing much better than before thanks to a surge of support in suburbs that allows them to sometimes win upset victories. Moreover, progressive candidates are winning in down-ballot races. All of this is evidence of a mobilized Democratic Party, which bodes well for 2020.”
“The proper remedy for fear is a look at the big picture, not just one poll. The big picture is that Trump remains unpopular and Democratic voters are energized to kick him out. The Democratic standard-bearer has to be someone who can harness the passion that already exists to move beyond Trump. Primary voters should be confident enough to vote not out of fear but out of hope.”
So, Democrats need to quit freaking out over every poll that comes along and realize that they are on the right track. Democrats are energized and primed to win America back again. Democrats should forget the polls and fight for what they believe. They have an excellent chance of winning.