Skip to main content
ABC News
Bulletpoint: Only Two Meaningful Shifts Have Happened In The Democratic Primary So Far

Two quick announcements before this week’s edition of Silver Bulletpoints. First, we’re going to experiment with the format this week and try un-batching the Bulletpoints. So there’s only one Bulletpoint below, and we’ll publish the rest as they come in separate posts. The potential benefits of this: You’ll get them more in real time and individual Bulletpoints can be easier to pass around and share. But this might not work as well when the Bulletpoints are all on the same theme. Anyway! We’re a data journalism website and we’re collecting data, so let us know what you think of this change. Check out the previous Bulletpoints here.

Second announcement: As we teased on this week’s FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, we’re partnering with Morning Consult to conduct polling before and after next week’s Democratic debates. I don’t want to spoil all the details, but Morning Consult will be interviewing the same voters both before and after the debates, which means that we’ll be able to track how support for the candidates changes in a highly precise way. We’re pretty excited, so we hope you’ll join us next week for all our debate-related coverage, which will include live blogs on both nights and podcasts afterward.

The debates aside, you generally shouldn’t be sweating day-to-day changes in the polls, at least not until we get much closer to the Iowa caucuses. There’s just way too much campaign left — and when candidates get a bounce in the polls, they usually revert to the mean within a few weeks anyway.

Measuring movement over the course of months is more meaningful, however. So let’s do something simple: compare where the Democratic candidates stand in an average of national polls now with where they were at the end of the previous quarter, on March 31.

Warren and Buttigieg have gained in the polls

Democratic candidates’ averages in the two weeks of polls leading up to June 19 vs. March 31

June 19
Pollster Biden Sanders Warren Harris O’Rourke Buttigieg Booker
Monmouth 32 14 15 8 3 5 2
YouGov 26 13 14 7 4 9 2
Morning Consult 38 19 11 7 4 7 3
HarrisX 35 13 7 5 6 4 3
Suffolk 30 15 10 8 2 9 2
Fox News 32 13 9 8 4 8 3
Quinnipiac 30 19 15 7 3 8 1
Change Research 26 21 19 8 3 14 1
Ipsos 31 14 9 6 3 5 2
Average 31.1 15.7 12.1 7.1 3.6 7.7 2.1
March 31
Pollster Biden Sanders Warren Harris O’Rourke Buttigieg Booker
HarrisX 29 18 5 6 6 3 4
Morning Consult 33 25 7 8 8 3 4
Quinnipiac 29 19 4 8 12 4 2
McLaughlin 28 17 5 8 8 3 3
Fox News 31 23 4 8 8 1 4
Emerson College 26 26 8 12 11 3 3
CNN/SSRS 28 19 7 11 12 1 3
Average 29.1 21.0 5.7 8.7 9.3 2.6 3.3

For the June average, polls were used if their final field date was sometime between June 5 and June 19. For the March average, polls were used if their final field date was sometime between March 17 and March 31. If a pollster conducted more than one poll during this period, only the most recent poll is included.

Source: polls

Two big, obvious things have happened. One is that Elizabeth Warren has gained at Bernie Sanders’s expense. Contrary to the claims made by the Sanders campaign, it’s not just “manufactured media narratives” that have Warren surging or Sanders slumping. Instead, that’s what you get if you make any effort to look at an average or cross-section of polls instead of cherry-picking, although the shifts have been fairly gradual.

The other trend is that Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have swapped places. At the end of March, O’Rourke was at 9.3 percent and Buttigieg was at 2.6 percent; now, it’s Buttigieg at 7.7 percent and O’Rourke at 3.6 percent.

As much as you sometimes need to be careful of going overboard with the concept of “lanes” in the Democratic primary, these shifts seem consistent with the lanes that everyone expected. Sanders and Warren are competing for left-leaning voters. And Buttigieg’s rise has been a challenge for O’Rourke given some of their surface similarities as youngish white guy “outsiders” who are liberal but not too liberal.

Apart from those two important shifts, pretty much everyone else is in the same position in the polls that they were three months ago.

From ABC News:

Nate Silver: What political betting markets say about Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 chances

Check out the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections, including all the Democratic primary polls.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.