"Polling Series: New Pattern" - by Jim Ellis
August 13, 2019
The HarrisX polling firm just completed conducting three rolling national Democratic presidential primary polls, and while they confirm other data finding former Vice President Joe Biden leading the race, he does so only in the low 30s. This is a number range far below what he needs to win a first ballot nomination. The data does, however, reveal a new contender consistently placing second.
HarrisX conducted the survey trio from August 7-12 that covered the periods of August 7-10, 8-11, and 9-12. The sample sizes were substantial and almost identical in size, ranging from 1,346-1,350.
The HarrisX findings when compared with other recent polling yield a first-place finish for Mr. Biden. The three studies post him to a pair of 30% finishes and one 31% showing.
But, perhaps the more interesting placement comes in examining who finished second. In contrast with the conclusions of other national polls that show Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placing definitively in second place, the HarrisX series finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) returning to that position.
The three polls project a consistent Biden-Sanders-Warren finish, with the leader scoring close to a 2:1 margin over his closest rival.
The research trifecta produced the following results:
Aug 9-12; 1,346 registered or self-identified US Democratic voters
Aug 8-11; 1,350 registered or self-identified US Democratic voters
Aug 7-10; 1,350 registered or self-identified US Democratic voters
There is no analysis that suggests why Sen. Warren seems to have dropped back while Sen. Sanders rebounds. It will be worth noting whether the coming mid-August polls also detect this change.
Two individual state polls were also released during the early August period, one much more credible than the other.
Change Research surveyed the important Nevada Caucus (8/2-8; 439 NV likely caucus attenders), the third nomination event, which is scheduled for February 22, 2020. In this presidential election, Nevada may play a more prominent role, since it could become a momentum gauge coming after the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary and before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday.
Particularly if Mr. Biden were to under-perform in the first two events, a distinct possibility because Iowa voters tend to favor the regional candidates and New Hampshire is in Sens. Sanders and Warren's backyard as they hail from neighboring Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively, the Silver State could give him a springboard into the southern primaries, or send him on a downward spiral from which he might not recover.
According to the Change data, Mr. Biden would only forge a 26-23-22-10% lead over Sens. Warren, Sanders, and Harris, respectively. Such a finish would mean the top three finishers would qualify to split the state's 36 first ballot delegate votes. It is clear that Mr. Biden would have to exceed this survey's results in order to form the necessary coalition to claim a first ballot victory at the Democratic National Convention next July.
The Sooner Poll of Oklahoma voters was also released, but the results here must be considered unreliable. Though it arrives at similar findings to those calculated in other southern states, the 152-person sample of likely Democratic primary voters gathered over a long eleven-day sampling period (7/17-27) is simply too small to be considered statistically significant.
In any event, Mr. Biden would hold a better than 2:1 edge over Sen. Warren (26-12%), while Sen. Harris, Mayor Buttigieg, and Sen. Sanders post 8-6-5% support figures, respectively. But, keep in mind, even Mr. Biden's 26% support factor only translates into 40 respondents, while Sen. Sanders' 5% means that just eight people indicated they would vote for him.