Time to do some fun basic math. There are six polls currently being counted as part of the Real Clear Politics average. All are after the last debate. Each pollster also surveyed at some point in the preceding 4-6 weeks. Some measure weekly, some less frequently. This isn’t a perfect sample, but these are reputable pollsters, many of which count as qualifying results to meet Democratic debate requirements.
The method is simple. Look at new survey. Then look at most recent previous survey from said pollster. Compare the candidate’s result. Then look at the whole list to see who is up, who is down, who is level. Also want to see which are seeing more volatile results. For those who need help qualifying for debates, volatility is good. And we want to catch a situation where a particularly good or bad poll is influencing the overall numbers.
I’m going to ruin this exercise by telling you there are no incredible findings. But then you already knew the race wasn’t exactly galloping in a particular direction right now.
Here are the particulars:
Joe Biden (+0.50 points on average, 4.17 points of volatility, up 3 times, down 3 times)
The numbers support the perception. Biden goes up, Biden goes down, at the end, he’s where he started. For someone at 27-28 percent, the volatility isn’t *that* volatile and the end difference is microscopic.
Elizabeth Warren (-1.0, 2.67, up 2, down 4)
More evidence Warren’s momentum has hit a temporary obstacle. Any past exercise like this was always to her benefit. For someone in the low-twenties overall, losing a point is insignificant. And it’s not like every poll had her going the wrong way. But Warren’s guaranteed triumph over Biden and her other foes is on hold. The betting markets have noticed. Once at or over 50% on PredictIt, she’s currently at 38%.
Bernie Sanders (+1.33, 2.67, up 4, down 2)
He needs to take another couple steps like this forward without falling back to make himself as likely to win as Warren or Biden, but it’s still positive news. If you’d told his team the day of his heart procedure that he’d have these numbers today, they’d have happily taken them.
Pete Buttigieg (+1.0, 1.0, up 4, down 0, same 2)
Outside of Iowa, it’s still a slow go for Mayor Pete. His path still depends on crushing it there and rolling into New Hampshire on a magic carpet. Still, none of this is bad. He’s the only candidate with zero negative results.
Kamala Harris (-0.17, 0.83, up 2, down 2, same 2)
She’s stopped the slide. Her floor is still higher than the Bookers and O’Rourkes of the world. Kamala still needs some good news. And unlike Buttigieg (and to a lesser extent Klobuchar), she doesn’t have a foothold in any of the early voting states to get a boost.
Andrew Yang (-0.67, 1.0, 1/2/3)
I follow the Yang Gang on Twitter. They do a good job building enthusiasm. It can give an observer the idea that he’s advancing. After all, his fundraising was strong in Q3 and he’s running ahead of those benchmarks so far in Q4. National polling isn’t showing anything yet. Nor is he making progress in Iowa or the other early voting states.
His numbers are down a little here, mostly due to an outlier Emerson survey that had him at 8% being replaced with a 4% result. They’re still the high poll on him, but more in line with the others now.
Beto O’Rourke (-0.67, 1.0, 1/4/1)
Beto peaked before he joined the race. He had a small dead cat bounce after his performance in Debate #3 as Chief Gun Confiscator. That’s gone now. He’s done. Low numbers, going the wrong direction, without an early state to lean on.
Amy Klobuchar (+0.5, 0.83, 3/1/2)
Warren and Biden are the most likely nominees. Sanders and Buttigieg have important things going for them. If I had to pick a fifth most likely nominee, and I can’t emphasize enough the gap between #4 and #5, it’s her. Klobuchar is the only candidate outside the Top Four who definitely advanced over the past few weeks.
It wasn’t by much. It wasn’t by enough to get her in to the December debate yet. She is qualified for the November event. She’s improved in each debate so far. Though Mayor Pete is very much in her way, Klobuchar is running ahead of her national numbers in Iowa.
This is harder than the political equivalent of picking up a 7-10 split, but she’s still playing.
Cory Booker (Even, 1.0, 2/3/1)
Nothing to see here. Again. Maybe he’s got a magic trick planned for the next debate.
Tulsi Gabbard (+0.33, 1.33, 3/3/0)
The most interesting candidate who definitely won’t get nominated by the Democratic Party. Her polls are more volatile than any other low-polling candidate. She likely won’t qualify for either the November or December debates, but appearing in them seems to mean less to her candidacy than the others at her polling level.
Gabbard has announced she’s not running for re-election in her House district, so she’ll not go away real soon. Her current and previous disputes with the DNC, verbal warfare with Hillary Clinton, and admiration from unusual quarters (Steve Bannon, Russian bots, et al) make her a wild card.
That’s without considering a possible third party run. At such point that’s actually a thing, we’ll look at it in more detail, but for now, just know that I’m not sure if she would take more votes from the Democrat or from Trump.
Tom Steyer (+0.17, 0.5, 2/1/3)
Maybe money can buy love. Definitely it can buy debate appearances. He’s already in for November. Buying national polling support is outside even Steyer’s budget. At least for now.
Julian Castro (-0.33, 0.67, 1/2/3)
Mr. Castro has appeared in his last debate. After he officially fails to qualify for November, he’ll drop out. We’ll see if he did enough to get considered as Warren’s Veep if she gets nominated.