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.
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: