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June 13, 2019

Open choice

Opinion

June 13, 2019

Ahead of the first 2020 debates beginning in two weeks, a majority of Democratic voters are undecided or are open to changing their first choice. Twenty Democratic candidates will argue their case, with ten candidates each spread out over two nights in Miami June 26-27. Interest in the contest remains remarkably high while certainty around its outcome remains much lower than sometimes acknowledged.

There is the reality of currently undecided voters. Beyond that, the vast majority who have settled on a first choice candidate have indicated, when asked, that their support for that first choice is soft. They continue to consider other candidates, often multiple other candidates, or state that they may change their mind.

The most recent SSRS/CNN pollputs the number of voters who may change their mind at 55%. A May 18-21 poll by YouGov noted that nearly 3 in 4 likely Democratic primary voters either have not settled on a first choice or are considering more than one candidate. A state poll in North Carolina released by Emerson has 62 percent indicating that they may change their mind. Emerson removes undecideds from their poll numbers before reporting. This means that closer to three-quarters undecided or willing to change their mind is realistic. 80 percent of likely Democratic caucus attenders in this weekend’s Selzer poll in Iowa named a second choice candidate when asked.

Until last week, YouGov, often in combination with Polling Editor Ariel Edwards-Levy of Huffington Post, has generally eschewed publishing “horse race” numbers in favor of a weekly series of intriguing dives into candidates favorability and how likely primary voters are weighing their options. This includes asking which range of candidates respondents are “considering,” whether they are satisfied with the Democratic field, and for which candidates, if any, they would be “disappointed if” they became the nominee.

A couple times in the last few months, YouGov horse-race-related numbers slipped out. I wrote about the first instance in my last article, on undecideds. In that article, I suggested that pushing undecided voters hard for which way they lean might be partly behind Biden’s inflated numbers. Since that time, it has become clear that YouGov’s method of ranked choice data gathering is the best way to capture the current state of flux in the field. Three polling firms responded to CounterPunch questions around decided versus leaning voters. Rasmussen Reports and HarrisX indicated that they are not currently asking people who indicate that they are undecided which way they lean. (HarrisX stated that it will introduce this question later in the cycle.) Patrick Murray from Monmouth Polling indicated that undecideds were at 13 percent in their most recent national poll, just 4 percent higher than the 9 percent indicated once they asked which way a respondent was leaning.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle two weeks ago when another YouGov horse race bit was lifted from one portion of a chart and posted on Twitter where it was then picked up by Bernie Sanders’ staffer David Sirota and blasted out because it showed a 28-27 advantage for Sanders over Joe Biden.

The problem? That advantage is only among those YouGov respondents for the who indicated that they were considering just one candidate. A mere 28 percent, of the 598 respondents who indicated likelihood to vote in the Democratic primary, have narrowed things down to just one candidate, according to the same figures. That leaves a staggering 72 percent of potential Democratic primary or caucus voters either not having selected any first choice yet or still considering multiple candidates.

Excerpted from: ‘As First 2020 Debate Looms, Most Democrats Are Still Persuadable’.

Courtesy: Counterpunch.org

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