Poll Results May 14 2019

May 14, 2019

Poll Results 5-14-2019


I think we should expect, in the not too distant future, that there will be hundreds of people running for President in each party.   The increasing number of candidates is a consequence not of a simple change in our culture, but of multiple changes interacting.   The lengthening of the election cycle creates a space in which what we might call oblique candidates can operate.  The diversification of the media environment creates resources which these oblique candidates can use. 


            What is meant by "oblique" candidates is that they are not marching directly towards the Presidency, but taking a somewhat more circuitous approach.   The candidates for President can be sorted into four groups:  the A-List candidates, the Trial Run candidates, the Career Builders and the Delusional candidates. 

            The A-List Candidates are the people like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and John Kasich who have a strong national profile before entering the race, and who have the resumes which are traditionally associated with those in line for the Presidency.

            The Trial Run Candidates are the candidates like Seth Moulton, Michael Bennet and Tulsi Gabbard, who probably understand that this is not their moment and they are not really likely to win in this cycle, but who want to be President someday and who figure that they need to learn the process, work out how to run a Presidential campaign, how to build a staff, how to stage events, how to identify and win the support of donors, how to run the media gauntlet, how to prepare for debates, how to build a network of advisors, etc., and who are running in this cycle basically to prepare themselves for some time in the future, 2028 or 2032 or something, when they can be A-List candidates. 

            The Career Builders are the people like Marianne Williamson and Eric Swallwell who (a) would sincerely like to be President, and (b) sincerely believe that they could do the job, but who (c) are not in the career path which has most often, in the past, led toward the Presidency.   They are running not as much out of an expectation that this will lead to the Presidency, as out of a belief that running for the Presidency will advance their careers.   That sounds judgmental, and I don’t mean it that way; it sounds judgmental not because of what I said but because of what you brought to the sentence.  There is nothing wrong with people advancing their careers—that’s a good thing—and there’s nothing wrong with people using the election process to advance their careers; Julius Caesar, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, William F. Buckley and Bob Dole used the election process to advance their careers.   Nothing wrong with it. 

            Marianne Williamson is a very nice-looking, extremely well-spoken, dignified and composed woman who is a writer and speaker.  She probably knows that entering this race does not lead to her election as President in 2020, but it helps her career.   By running for President, she gets invited on cable television.   She gets to be better known.   It sells books.  It will lead to speaking opportunities after the race is over.  She will be on the stage for some of the Presidential debates, which will build her name recognition and credibility.  She draws in money for her campaign, and, while she can’t use that money directly for personal benefit, she uses it to build an organization.  Dozens or hundreds of people will be working on her behalf, funded by the campaign donations.  Perhaps she will run for the Senate in 2022, or for a Governor’s office, or perhaps she will be appointed to a minor cabinet position.   It is even possible that, if she does well in a debate, people will look at Elizabeth Warren and at her and decide that they like her better; you never know.   Even though she doesn’t become President, she comes out of the race better off than she went in.   Probably this is why she is running.

            The fourth category of oblique candidates is what I labeled Delusional candidates, but I need to find a better term for them because this, again, seems very judgmental, and I don’t mean it that way.  (If you can suggest a better word here, please do.)  Anyway, the Delusional candidates have no realistic chance of becoming President, and are not really helping their careers by running, but who have chosen to enter the race anyway.   Mike Gravel is the clearest example in this race; he’s an 88-year-old man who was a United States Senator from Alaska from 1969 to 1981, and is trying to mount a race for the White House now.   He is NOT going to win, either the Presidency or the nomination, but he has something to say and he’s going to say it.   And why shouldn’t he?  If he has something he wants to say and this is the best platform available to him, let him step up on the stage and let’s see what he has to say.

            Of course many candidates are neither fish nor fowl.  Beto O’Rourke, for example, is essentially an A-List candidate, but he does not have the background or experience that a President needs, so he should be doing a trial run.   He’s kind of in an awkward position; he needs to use this electoral cycle to build his credibility and move on from there, but he became SO famous so early in the cycle that it is difficult for him to do that.   The same with Pete Buttigieg.   John Delaney, on the other hand, is more or less an A-List candidate, in terms of resume, experience and intentions, but he has too little name recognition and support to be described as an A-lister at this time (although historically, many, many people have come from where Delaney is now to become the nominees of their party.)  He is sort of half-way between an A-Lister and a Delusional Candidate, as Beto is kind of half-way between an A-Lister and a Trial Run candidate. 

            If you look at the field of candidates in that way, you can see that we are early in the era in which the number of candidates is exploding.   The number of A-List candidates—or what we could call 1950s/1960s style candidates—that number is inherently limited.  But if there is one Trial Run Candidate, why can’t there be two?   If there are two Career Building candidates, why can’t there be four?  If there are four Delusional candidates, why can’t there be eight? 

            "The system" may have a natural resistance to an explosion in the number of candidates, or it may not.  My experience is that people always think that there is a resistance to explosive change which, when put to the test, will turn out not to be there.  A system may resist an explosive/corrosive change for a hundred years, and then it may fail to resist it, in the same way that a bridge support may resist the power of the river for a hundred years, and then it may collapse, or in the same way that the climate may resist the effects of carbon dioxide increases in the air for a thousand years, and then suddenly it may not be able to resist it any longer. The great increase in the number of cable channels, which is still happening, creates a demand for on-air appearances by people running for national office.   The explosion of interests creates a possibility for single-issue/delusional candidates running on welfare reform, prison reform, electoral reform, homeless advocacy, statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington DC, and any number of other causes.  This increase is happening; I don’t see it stopping.  We won’t have 100 meaningful candidates in 2023 (for 2024), but we may have in 2031 (for 2032). 

            Some of you have been asking about why I am doing these polls, why I am putting so much time and energy into them.   This article does not explain that, but it’s necessary background.   I’ll try to move the discussion again tomorrow or the next day.

            Meanwhile, these are the updated standings from the polls:


















































































































            The results from yesterday’s poll were un-expected, and led to some changes in our evaluation of where the candidates stand.   Two candidates over-performed expectations based on the previous polls, and the other two under-performed.  Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden over-performed; Buttigieg and Kamala Harris under-performed. 

            Elizabeth Warren, expected to win the poll but with 28%, drew 34%, increasing her standing in our system from 1165 to 1259.   Each 100 points in the system represent about 1% support, so a 94-point increase is basically an increase of about 1%.

            Joe Biden, who had the weakest support of the four candidates based on the previous polls, finished second in the poll with 28%, exceeding expectations 28-22.   This increases his support number from 901 to 977.

            Pete Buttigieg, expected to finish second in the poll with 26%, finished third with 22%, dropping his support number from 1077 to 982.   Buttigieg lost to Biden yesterday but is still ahead of him.  It is like if Wake Forest is ranked 14th in the RPI and Duke is rated 2nd; they play and Wake Forest wins.  Wake Forest moves up and Duke moves down, but that doesn’t mean Wake Forest ranks ahead of Duke, because it doesn’t mean that, if they played again, Wake Forest would win again.   It just means that Wake Forest moves up and Duke moves down.  Biden moves up 76 and Buttigieg moves down 95, and they almost meet in the middle.

            Kamala Harris dramatically under-performed in yesterday’s poll, finishing last with 16% support against an expectation of 25%.  This drops her rating in our system from 1030 to 885, and drops her position in our standings from third to fourth, behind Biden.

            There are two explanations for these changes:  one, that Biden and Warren are gaining strength and Buttigieg and Harris are losing strength among my twitter followers, and two, that my previous analysis had not accurately placed the strength of the four candidates.  

            I think that both of these explanations are credible to a certain extent.   This was the fourth consecutive poll in which Biden has done better than expected, based on the four previous times that he had been polled.  He also did well in the polls of April 30, May 4, and May 7.   The easiest explanation for that is that he is gaining strength.    This is actually the fifth consecutive poll in which Elizabeth Warren has over-performed her previous standing, and the third consecutive poll in which Buttigieg has lost ground.   The only one who reversed course in this poll was Kamala Harris.   Harris, we’ll have to see, but it seems likely that the other three are actually in motion in the direction of the measurement.

            But at the same time, the polling system is still new enough that we haven’t exactly placed everyone correctly yet.   I am confident that my system will eventually sort everyone out and correctly measure their support within my Twitter followers, but we haven’t yet done enough polls for me to say that we had it exactly right before, or that we have it exactly right now. 

            Stacey Abrams is now (today) being polled for the third time.  I think I shouldn’t publish poll standings for anybody based on less than three polls, but I’ll add Abrams to the listed candidates tomorrow, and we’ll see where she comes in.   When I add her to the group I’m going to make a change in the system.  The numbers shown represent support per 10,000 voters; the 1265 number for Elizabeth Warren means that I estimate that she would be the first choice of 12.65% of my Twitter followers—not actually a terribly impressive percentage. 

            But when we introduce somebody new to the polls, that divides the support another way, and takes that percentage of the vote away from the other candidates.   That doesn’t mean anything, really, if somebody comes in at 50 or 100 or 150, but Stacey Abrams is stronger than that.  Taking her support "away" from the other candidates in one step would create a break in the lines for the other candidates, so I’m not going to do that.  Instead, I will adjust the system so that it represents 10,000 PLUS Abrams entry level support.  Then I’ll take a few points out of the poll every day until we are back to 10,000, so that we can track candidate movements across time.  Thanks for reading. 


COMMENTS (12 Comments, most recent shown first)

I think the battle to determine ancestry is going to make Pocahontas look like chess in the park.

One example is that Harris, the choice of many black Americans, would not be eligible since she has a Jamaican mother and an Indian (dots not feathers) mother.

No soup for you.

The whole conversation is ludicrous. The fact that eight generous back one of your 32 ancestors was a slave does not entitle you to some jackpot. The nanny state has taxed the rich to your benefit a hundred fold. Since my born in Jersey nonslave holding great great great took a bullet at Antietam fighting for abolition, crippling his lifetime income, do we get some of that sweet, sweet reparations booty?
9:22 AM May 19th
How is what Marc Schneider said not true???

Spoiler: It's true.
I had no idea anyone thought otherwise, and can't imagine what basis they might have. If you've got one, let's hear it.

(I anticipate silence.) :-)
11:10 PM May 18th
Marc Schneider:

"Most of the Dixiecrats from 1948 became Republicans. The conservative southern Democrats, for all intents and purposes, are now Republicans."

Wrong. This revisionist history has been debunked over and over again.

"As for who is going to pay for it, the obvious answer is-everyone. What you seem to be saying is akin to the West German government saying that, well, it was the Nazis that killed the Jews so only the Nazis should pay reparations."

Why would somebody who lost ancestors in the Civil War fighting the South pay for it? Why should an immigrant who came to the country 10 years ago pay? Maybe Williamson can explain.

And how exactly would this work? Does somebody have to prove they have some sort of standing when it comes to reparations? Perhaps the "well-spoken" Williamson or any of the other 25 candidates can explain this.

You're against reparations but the person you will likely vote for in 2020 is all for reparations. Let's see if they are for the DNC paying for reparations since the DNC is the closest entity associated with slavery. It shouldn't matter to them since the wrong of slavery would be somewhat addressed with reparations. Maybe the DNC can lead the way in that regard. Perhaps a good reporter can ask those simple questions.
5:46 PM May 15th
My suggested alternative to "Delusional" would be "Unrealistic."

I second all of Marc Schneider's points rebutting a bad-faith argument that pretends to be unaware that the Republican party cares less about civil rights than the Dems.
11:08 AM May 15th
I would suggest that instead of Delusional Candidates they be called Soapbox Candidates -- a number of people who are running (e.g., Gavel, Yang, Williamson) are doing so to shine light on a specific issue or two. Rather like the folks who speak out at London's Hyde Park -- not expecting to win election, but hoping to influence the discourse.
9:52 AM May 15th
Marc Schneider
"Well since the KKK was the domestic terrorist arm of the Democratic Party and the Democratic party for much of history favored slavery and fought against freedom of the slaves, perhaps the DNC should pay for the reparations. "

I'm not necessarily in favor of reparations, but that's an absurd statement. It's like saying that since Ed Barrow acquired Babe Ruth for the Yankees, he should be executive of the year for 2019. The existing Democratic Party has nothing do with the ante/post bellum Democratic Party. If you are going to make comparisons, it's much more like the current Republican Party. Most of the Dixiecrats from 1948 became Republicans. The conservative southern Democrats, for all intents and purposes, are now Republicans. As for who is going to pay for it, the obvious answer is-everyone. What you seem to be saying is akin to the West German government saying that, well, it was the Nazis that killed the Jews so only the Nazis should pay reparations.
9:45 AM May 15th
So Marianne Williamson is calling for slavery reparations. Great. Who will pay for that? Who gets the reparations? Has anybody asked her?

She also mentioned domestic terrorism and the KKK when speaking about slavery reparations. Well since the KKK was the domestic terrorist arm of the Democratic Party and the Democratic party for much of history favored slavery and fought against freedom of the slaves, perhaps the DNC should pay for the reparations. I wonder if she and the other 20+ candidates would agree.
5:11 AM May 15th
Responding to Matt--I think that is correct.
2:30 AM May 15th
I believe Trump was in the Career Builder category, but then went and accidentally won it.

1:18 AM May 15th
Bill, I don't read your twitter feed daily, but....if you are going to do this for a year and a half, have you considered some qualifying questions?


Are you a registered voter? Are you affiliated with a party? Have you voted in the past four years? Are you 18 or older? Are you an American citizen? Where do you consider yourself on the political spectrum (very con, con, mod, lib, very lib). Who did you vote for in the last presidential general?

And some sort of regional thing, maybe....obviously Massachusett's own Red Soxer Elizabeth Warren is polling extraordinarily high for some reason....
5:17 PM May 14th
Bill, I think you're understating how rare it is that the President come from the House of Representatives. It's been almost 150 years since the winning candidate pulled that off. And if I'm counting correctly, it's been almost 100 years since someone even lost as a major-party candidate running from the House. So I think Moulton, Swalwell, Gabbard, and Delaney are all more similar than different... whatever you want to call them (career builders? one-issue candidates? plain old longshots?), they probably end up in the same category.

And if that historical precedent does continue, I think that affects your further analysis. If all those candidates do go nowhere, and it's ultimately a race between a bunch of Senators and the former Vice-President, that would imply that there aren't going to be hundreds of candidates going forward. It'd be evidence suggesting that, no matter how many people say they're running, the credentials for which the public is looking haven't changed much.

(Buttigieg would indeed be even more of a historical anomaly than a Representative. But I think it's safe to say he wouldn't represent some sort of new era, if he were the only "non-traditional background" candidate who seriously competed.)
4:09 PM May 14th
Marc Schneider
In addition to the proliferation of cable channels, the rise of social media makes it easy for anyone to say they are a candidate. I have no idea who some of these people are but I see them on Facebook asking for donations. Maybe someone just wants to tell their grandkids that I once ran for President.
4:09 PM May 14th
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