It does not take a professional pundit or life-long political analyst to know that all these early Democrat presidential candidate polls are meaningless. It is simply too early to even have the slightest clue who will emerge in the lead going into the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in the summer of 2020.
It is like calling a horse race from the starting gate. The early front-runners are often viewing horse hindquarters rather than the finish line. Anything can happen – as the recent Kentucky Derby proved.
But still, polls seem to create a compulsive desire to interpret them by the media – including, sadly, this commentator. So, let’s play the game.
While much is said about the scientific precision of modern polling – and we tend to accept the results as an accurate representation of reality. But then, how do we explain all those different results from different polls?
Polls taken before the official entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden had him in the lead with a plurality of approximately 39 percent – comfortably ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders, who was pulling around 30 percent.
Now that Biden is officially in, we can see the post-announcement number. In three polls, Biden scored 38, 44 and 45 percent respectively. Considering the margin of error, that would suggest that the former Veep essentially remained in the same place – with approximately two-thirds of the Democrat voters preferring someone other the Biden or just not able to make up their minds this early. Still, he is in the lead and a candidate can get to the nomination with a plurality against a large field. Good for old Joe.
What is interesting in these polls is that Sanders not only drops significantly from his earlier 30 percent – to 14 percent in one poll and 11 percent in another. Even more concerning for Sanders is in that he drops to third place – behind Senator Elizabeth Warren with 12 percent.
It seems that every poll has a different line up of the top five – the only candidates who count at this point. When asked who has the best chance of beating Trump, one poll gives the win, place and show position to Beto O’Rourke, Biden and Sanders respectively. In other polls, O’Rourke does not even squeeze into the top five.
One poll shows the top five to be Biden, Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker and Mayor Mike Buttigieg while another stacks them as Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris.
Currently, there are 22 Democrats running for the Democrat nomination. While the polling takes them all into consideration, the news media focuses on the top five – and occasionally puts up a mosaic of head shots of most of the other candidates. I say “most” because if you quickly count the mosaic, it rarely goes beyond 15 to 18. In other words, a whole bunch of Democrat candidates are non-existent to the press people.
But they are important since they are dividing up the potential vote into very small portions. The best way to analyze their importance is what happens to their few votes when they start dropping out. Individually, they will have very little impact, but collectively their voters will ultimately decide the nominee.
Since more than 50 percent of the votes across the board are going to the most radical left-wing candidates, Biden needs to hope and pray that not too many of the others drop out – especially Warren, Harris, Booker, Buttigieg and any number of the lessor left-wing one-percenters – such as former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Eric Swalwell and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. It is safe to assume that most of their voters are not likely to switch to Biden.
As in many races, it is not good to be in the lead coming out of the gate. Horse races and presidential races have a history of early leaders falling behind the pack as they get closer to the finish line. This season will be no different.
So, there ‘tis.