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Election Update: We Got A Flurry Of New National Polls. Sanders Led Them All.

According to the FiveThirtyEight primary forecast, the single most likely outcome of the Democratic presidential primary is that no one wins a majority of pledged delegates (there is a 2 in 5, or 41 percent, chance of this). However, it is almost equally likely that Sen. Bernie Sanders will bag a majority (a 2 in 5 chance, or 37 percent). And a recent avalanche of national polls has been particularly good for Sanders.1

Sanders leads in 10 out of 10 national polls released since Monday — many of them from high-quality pollsters — giving him a firmer handle on the race. He currently sits at 25.3 percent in our national polling average — more than 3 percentage points higher than on Feb. 10 (the day before the New Hampshire primary). Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are roughly tied for second place in the polls, but they are heading in opposite directions. Bloomberg’s average is up 3.5 points since Feb. 10, while Biden’s is down 5 points.

[Our Latest Forecast: Who Will Win The 2020 Democratic Primary?]

Here’s a snapshot of how the candidates’ standing in those 10 polls has changed since the previous national primary poll from each pollster. (Note that the polls we are comparing to all predate the New Hampshire primary, and most predate the Iowa caucuses as well. The only one older than mid-January is Marist’s, which is from December.)

Sanders and Bloomberg up, Biden down in national polls

How the top six Democratic presidential candidates’ standing changed compared to each pollster’s last pre-New Hampshire national primary poll

Pollster Sanders Biden Bloomb. Warren Buttig. Klobuch.
ABC News/Washington Post +9 -16 +6 0 +3 +4
Emerson College +2 -8 +6 -1 +2 +2
Morning Consult +3 -3 +3 -1 +1 +3
NBC News/Wall Street Journal 0 -11 +5 -1 +6 +2
NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist +9 -9 +15 -5 -5 +5
Reuters/Ipsos +5 -4 +2 -2 +3 +2
SurveyUSA +8 -14 +9 -4 +3 +2
The Economist/YouGov +2 0 0 +1 +1 0
The Hill/HarrisX +2 -4 +2 +3 +1 +2
Zogby Analytics 0 -6 +9 -1 +1 +1
Average change +4 -8 +6 -1 +2 +2

Source: Polls

And here’s a rundown of those polls, from newest to oldest:

  • According to The Hill/HarrisX, 22 percent of voters back Sanders, 19 percent back Biden, 18 percent back Bloomberg, 12 percent back Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 10 percent back former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and 5 percent back Sen. Amy Klobuchar. However, the results look different if you account for the pollster’s house effects, which our forecast does. The adjusted top lines that our model digests are Sanders at 23 percent; Bloomberg, Biden and Warren all at 16 percent; Buttigieg at 12 percent; and Klobuchar still at 5 percent.
  • The Economist/YouGov gave Sanders 24 percent, Biden 18 percent, Warren 16 percent, Bloomberg 12 percent, Buttigieg 11 percent and Klobuchar 7 percent. When adjusted for house effects, the results are similar, per our model: Sanders 24 percent, Biden 18 percent, Bloomberg 14 percent, Warren 13 percent and Klobuchar 7 percent.
  • In ABC News/Washington Post’s latest survey, Sanders had 32 percent, Biden had 16 percent, Bloomberg had 14 percent, Warren had 12 percent, Buttigieg had 8 percent and Klobuchar had 7 percent.2 Our forecast didn’t really adjust these numbers much for house effects, either, so this was an unambiguously great poll for Sanders — and a bad one for Biden.
  • In Morning Consult’s most recent poll, Sanders got 28 percent, Bloomberg got 20 percent, Biden got 19 percent, Buttigieg got 12 percent, Warren got 10 percent and Klobuchar got 6 percent. But because Morning Consult often shows good numbers for Sanders, our model treated this poll as somewhat less strong for him after accounting for house effects. (Our model interpreted this poll as Sanders at 24 percent, Bloomberg at 18 percent and Biden at 15 percent.)
  • Emerson College also put Sanders in the lead at 29 percent, with Biden at 22 percent, Bloomberg at 14 percent, Warren at 12 percent, Buttigieg at 8 percent and Klobuchar at 6 percent. However, note that Emerson has typically had very rosy numbers for Sanders, so our model interprets this poll as more like one where Sanders leads Biden by a much smaller margin — 24 percent to 21 percent.
  • According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, Sanders had 27 percent, Biden had 15 percent, Bloomberg and Warren each had 14 percent, Buttigieg had 13 percent and Klobuchar had 7 percent.
  • A Reuters/Ipsos survey found Sanders at 25 percent, Bloomberg at 17 percent, Biden at 13 percent, Buttigieg at 11 percent, Warren at 9 percent and Klobuchar at 5 percent. However, once adjusted for house effects, the poll looks even better for Sanders: Our model reads it as more like Sanders at 26 percent, Bloomberg and Biden tied at 16 percent, Buttigieg at 13 percent, Warren at 12 percent and Klobuchar at 6 percent.
  • According to SurveyUSA, Sanders had 29 percent, Bloomberg and Biden each had 18 percent, Buttigieg had 12 percent, Warren had 10 percent and Klobuchar had 4 percent. And this poll is even worse than it looks for Biden because of SurveyUSA’s house effects, which tend to benefit Biden; his adjusted support is closer to 15 percent in our model.
  • An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist College poll put Sanders at 31 percent, Bloomberg at 19 percent, Biden at 15 percent, Warren at 12 percent, Klobuchar at 9 percent and Buttigieg at 8 percent.
  • Finally, Zogby Analytics gave Sanders 24 percent, Bloomberg 20 percent, Biden 18 percent, Warren 10 percent, Buttigieg 9 percent and Klobuchar 5 percent. However, our model thinks Bloomberg is probably closer to 17 percent support in this poll than 20 percent, thanks to Zogby’s Bloomberg-friendly house effects.

With house effects factored in, these polls give Sanders an adjusted lead of anywhere from 2 to 15 percentage points. There’s simply not much ambiguity right now that Sanders is the first choice of a plurality of Democrats nationwide. Accordingly, if you look at who is most likely to get the most pledged delegates, though not necessarily more than half (we usually cite the forecast’s odds of a candidate getting a majority), our model is fairly confident it’ll be Sanders who gets a plurality (he has a 3 in 5, or 56 percent, chance of doing so). The big question is whether the other candidates stay competitive enough for long enough to deny him the majority he needs to win the nomination outright.


  1. We did discover and fix an issue in our state forecasts earlier today, but the top-line numbers were largely unchanged.

  2. Using the poll’s numbers among registered voters.

Nathaniel Rakich is a senior editor and senior elections analyst at FiveThirtyEight.