#BEpolls: Where Things Stand Before Nevada

A quick look at the state of the Democratic presidential nomination race before a consequential caucus on Saturday

Publisher’s Riff

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At the moment, all the talk in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is centering on Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg. Besides clear differences in their biographies and politics, one major difference stands out: the former has been tested in a presidential caucus and primary (indeed, this is is second go-around) and the latter has not. Bloomberg might be polling well, and his carpet-bombing scale ad campaign may be getting noticed everywhere, but we won’t be able to test this strategy until March 3rd in 15 states.

First: it’s not much we can tell about the condition of this race right now following results in two of the Whitest states in America. That’s not much of a metric for a party as diverse as the Democratic Primary. But, for better or worse, they do contribute to candidate momentum or the perception of such.

Sanders is, for now, the front runner. But, he has a number of issues: the turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire was not all that spectacular for someone who regularly claims he’s creating a “revolution” or “movement”; he hasn’t captured more than 26 percent of the vote in each of the first states - including a state in his home-base market; there were fewer younger voters in both states than anticipated; he clearly still hasn’t broken through to moderates, voters he’ll need to win the nomination and to coalesce around him if he becomes the nominee; and, more importantly, we don’t know how Sanders will do in more diverse states. As if that’s not enough of a problem, he’s got key Trump surrogates and white nationalists like Steve Bannon openly stanning for him (“The Bernie people helped make Trump president. And they’ll help make him president again.”).

Pete Buttigieg may be a front runner on Sanders’ heels in IA and NH, but he’s still very much distant from 1st place when looking at the overall national map. Klobuchar may have moved up in IA and NH - but, again, those were in two of America’s Whitest states, and there are no signs she can command a following beyond White and moderate voters. Elsewhere: we can’t count Biden in anything, but we can’t just yet count him out until we see what happens in Nevada and South Carolina (please stop calling that a “firewall”). But, there are signs his support is eroding in South Carolina, with a forecast saying Sanders may break through there. Plus, should we factor in Republicans taking advantage of the state’s open primary, actively encouraging their voters to disrupt the Democratic primary so that the candidate perceived most vulnerable to Trump gets picked?

Warren just hasn’t regained any footing, yet - but, with Andrew Yang now out, where do his people go? Could that provide a bump for Warren? We barely notice the exit of Michael Bennett because few knew he was there. And there are no more Black candidates with the exit of Deval Patrick who, just as we thought, was only looking for some time out of the house. Steyer is still chugging along, leaving us to wonder if his time in South Carolina will pose a major problem in South Carolina.

Here’s a national snapshot of the field right now …

Morning Consult


The Economist

Here’s a quick look at delegate counts and forecasts …