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Poll Averaging

The title of my post may appear a bit silly, but it's not. Rather, it's a blast at those who average polls that are months old to project who is in the lead.

This is what things looked like on January 4.

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On the basis of polls dating back to November 6, Real Clear Politics said Pete Buttigieg was in the lead.

Those polls were so freaking old they conveyed zero information.

We now have one poll reasonable enough to discuss. Instead of having no information we can now see that Iowa is rough a three-way tie between Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg.

What Happened to Michael Bloomberg?

RCP listed Bloomberg on January 4, but doesn't now.


He dropped out of the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary.

New Hampshire Picture

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For New Hampshire, RCP is still averaging in two polls from November and very early December. Last week it was even sillier.

But at least we do have two new polls worth looking at. Unfortunately, there is a massive variance in them.

Massive Variance

If Monmouth is accurate, Buttigieg has a one-point lead over Joe Biden with Bernie Sanders in third place also by a point.

If YouGov is correct Sanders has a two-point lead over Biden and a whopping 14-point lead over Buttigieg.

Even though the percentages vary widely, Biden happens to be in second place in both of the newest polls. Elizabeth Warren is in third or fourth place depending on which poll you believe.

My Assessment

  1. Sanders
  2. Biden
  3. Flip a Coin between Warren and Buttigieg

If that New Hampshire projection is correct, then Buttigieg desperately needs a first or second place finish in Iowa.

Winning an early primary may not boost Buttigieg, but losing both badly would likely do him in financially.

What About Bloomberg?

Bloomberg is worth $57 billion or so. He can self-finance a presidential campaign for as long as he desires.

If Bloomberg can get to double-digit support, or perhaps even 8%, there will be pressure to include Bloomberg in the debates.


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There is only one poll in Nevada worth discussing. It's from this year.

Biden has a 6 point lead over Sanders. Tom Steyer is doing better than many might have expected. At 12% he matches Warren.

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RCP averaged in a poll from October. Ridiculous.

South Carolina

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There is only one poll worth discussing in South Carolina. The rest are too stale.

Biden is +21 in SC over Steyer, +22 over Sanders in SC.

Steyer has been advertising heavily in SC. It helps to be a billionaire.

How Serious Is Tom Steyer’s Polling Surge?

Please consider How Serious Is Tom Steyer’s Polling Surge?

There hasn’t been much public polling in the Democratic primary race, and it hasn’t offered too many surprises even on the few occasions when it has materialized. Until Thursday night.

In what might be the most surprising results of the cycle, Fox News released polls in South Carolina and Nevada showing Tom Steyer in a strong position: second place with 15 percent of the vote in the South Carolina primary, and tied for third with 12 percent of the vote in Nevada.

It’s enough to qualify him for next week’s Democratic debate, and it at least raises the question of whether he’s poised to play a more meaningful role in the race.

Fox News polls are of high quality, and the sample is large enough that the result can’t be dismissed as noise. The findings are not wholly without corroboration. Morning Consult’s early state tracking shows Mr. Steyer at 10 percent combined across the four early states.

The explanation for his surge is straightforward: uncontested dominance of the airwaves. According to FiveThirtyEight’s ad spending tracker, he has spent more on television advertisements than all other candidates combined if you don’t count the other billionaire in the race, Michael Bloomberg.

National Polls

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We have two recent national polls, with perhaps two more worth averaging in.

Consistency and Fluctuations

Regardless of time frame, we have two candidates with very consistent numbers (Biden and Buttigieg).

We also have two huge fluctuations (Warren and Sanders).

Making Sense of It All

Consistency vs fluctuations makes sense actually.

Warren and Sanders are in direct competition for the progressives whereas neither Buttigieg nor Bloomberg are taking votes away from Biden. Bloomberg might matter, but realistically, Buttigieg is a heavy favorite to become burnt toast. In 8 more years he might have a better shot.

Scepticism Needed

I am very sceptical of that latest YouGov poll. None of the top 5 polls have Warren polling that high.

Moreover, I suspect the Mideast situation is far more likely to cause a surge for Sanders than Warren.

And Sanders has a huge lead in fundraising.

Finally, the Steyer impact does not yet show up nationally due to his selective state strategy and lack of name recognition.

Steyer Who?

Anyway, we have numbers and a new development with Steyer worth discussing. Place your bets.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock