What do this week’s presidential polls mean?


If you’ve been even casually following the 2020 Democratic primary for president, this week was dizzying. Bold headlines reported on the first round of polls after former Veep Joe Biden jumped into the race last week.

The numbers were as encouraging for Biden as they were surprising. In the three national polls out this week, from Morning Consult, Quinnipiac and CNN, Biden took massive leads of 14%, 26% and 28%, respectively. Good news was to be had for Elizabeth Warren, who continues her steady rise and even takes second in the Quinnipiac poll. 

The unwelcome polling news was reserved for Bernie Sanders, who is dropping in two of the three polls. And Mayor Pete is hot on his heels. 

Not even the state of New Hampshire had good news for their Vermont neighbor to the west, as a new poll showed Biden, now with a 20-point swing, leapfrogging over Sanders there.

If there’s a secret sauce to how Joe Biden accomplished this in the space of a week, political consultants everywhere are lining up to bottle it.

So what does all the polling mean? 

In a nutshell, probably not much. This early in a presidential campaign polls will swing wildly from week to week. But Sanders has been underperforming his vote share from 2016 by as much as half in many early state polls. That trend may offer a glimpse into Sanders’ challenges in a larger, more diverse and more progressive field of opponents than the one he faced in 2016.

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