Well, we were always going to have a week like this when talking about a presidential election. And it seems like this is the week. So let’s do a deep dive into some polling.
Or really, just one bit of polling — namely that one Iowa poll everyone is talking about. In case you missed it, a recent CNN/Des Moines Register poll showed Pete Buttigieg skyrocketing to a first place position, with 25% of those asked listing him as their first-choice candidate.
First, let’s get some methodology out of the way. The poll was conducted by randomly calling 500 registered voters in Iowa likely to attend the Democratic caucuses and 502 registered Republicans in Iowa not likely to attend the Democratic caucuses.
And what did those 1,002 people say? Well, as previously mentioned, 25% said Pete Buttigieg was their first choice candidate, 16% said Elizabeth Warren, 15% said Bernie Sanders, and 15% said Joe Biden. Further down in the pack, Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Tulsi Gabbard were each 3% of respondents’ first choices. Michael Bloomberg, who has not officially entered the race, was the first choice for 2% of respondents. And Julian Castro, whose low polling failed to qualify him for Wednesday’s debate, was less than 1% of respondents’ first choice.
But let’s move on past that voting question because there are other interesting numbers in this poll. And for these, I’ll only be talking about the four leading candidates: Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders and Biden. So if Cory Booker is your favorite candidate and you wanted in-depth analysis of his numbers; this isn’t the column for you.
So, the first question to look at here is that of favorability. This is less a measure of how likely you are to vote for someone and more a question of how much you like them as a person/politician. Pete does well here again, with 72% viewing him favorably. That’s contrasted to Biden, who has tried to paint himself as America’s uncle/grandpa that everybody loves and is still only at 64% favorability. That isn’t too bad, but it gets more interesting when compared to Elizabeth Warren at 70% favorability. She can be a divisive figure for some because she’s left-leaning (and a powerful woman, which some people still aren’t ready for). This puts Joe Biden in a less favorable position than her, and only slightly more favorable than Bernie Sanders, whose number stands at 61%.
This trend of Biden losing steam and Buttigieg picking it up continues to raise the question of perceived ideology. On that end, 28% percent of respondents said Biden was “too conservative,” and just 55% said he was “about right.” On the other hand, 63% said Buttigieg was “about right” and only 13% said he was “too conservative.” Over on the left wing, 48% said Warren was “about right” and 38% said she was “too liberal,” whereas 53% said Bernie Sanders was “too liberal” and 37% said he was “about right.” Also, 3% said Bernie was “too conservative.” Don’t you just want to have a conversation with those people?
But where everyone’s favorite mayor falls down is whether people think he can win. Only 46% of respondents said they were confident he could beat Donald Trump, which coincidentally is the same percentage as those who were confident Warren could beat Trump. Only 40% were confident Sanders could win. And at the top, 52% were confident Biden could beat Trump. That’s exactly the message the Biden campaign has been putting out, so I guess they’re doing something right.
Now, none of this necessarily means anything, which is a great thing to say after writing a short essay on it. But the fact remains this is one poll in one state. Even if Biden is slipping in Iowa or New Hampshire, his numbers are still beyond solid in South Carolina. Plus, Wednesday’s debate could change everything (though it probably won’t).
Here’s all I’m saying: yes, this poll is very exciting and deeply interesting, but obviously, it is not the end all be all of numerical representations of the 2020 election. Iowa’s race looks close at the moment, but it’s still a couple months away. Plus, things are constantly changing in this race, including its size. I’m looking at you, Deval Patrick.
That is all I have to say in this long and rambling article (I blame week nine). Debate coverage will come next week. Now, go away.