Labor Day has historically been a reset point for Presidential campaigns as the end of Summer marks the end of vacations and always means more voters paying attention to the race. Here’s a quick look at the race as we head into September, a crucial month for every candidate and the point at which most campaigns take a “reset” to assess their messaging and plot their path into the Fall.
Questionable Monmouth Poll
There was a poll out earlier this week which appeared to show the candidacy of former vice president Joe Biden in a literal freefall. The numbers, coming from a Monmouth University poll, showed Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders tied nationally at 20%, with Biden sitting behind them at 19%. At first, the poll sent some shockwaves through various media outlets, but upon further analysis, Monmouth University called the numbers an outlier compared to their previous polls, according to CNN:
Monmouth University’s poll showing a three-way tie between former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders atop the 2020 Democratic field for president was an outlier, the university’s polling director said Wednesday.
“[I]t is clear that the Monmouth University Poll published Monday is an outlier,” polling director Patrick Murray said in a statement. “I understood when we released our poll that the picture it painted diverged from others.”
The sample size was tiny for a national poll, and the pollster issued a lengthier statement on twitter attempting to explain their error:
— MonmouthPoll (@MonmouthPoll) August 28, 2019
When I personally saw the poll released, I was skeptical somewhat and stayed away from reporting on it until it was either disproved or supported by more data. Luckily this time the former happened and Monmouth took responsibility for putting out bogus numbers.
More polls from other firms showed the race hasn’t changed much into August:
Quinnipiac University’s poll, released early Wednesday, found Biden leading the pack with 32% support among registered Democrats and Democratic independent voters. Warren and Sanders followed with 19% and 15%, respectively, relatively unchanged from Quinnipiac’s earlier August poll.
A CNN poll conducted by SSRS released last week with Biden at 29% support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, followed by 15% for Sanders and 14% for Warren.
Biden appears to be holding down his thirty percent support as it has been for many months. Part of the reason is that he holds a strong majority of black voters within the Democratic primary. Biden’s still in charge, for now.
Labor Day Campaign Reset
After Labor Day, more Americans will be paying much closer attention to the 2020 presidential campaign. The September 12 debate will, for some viewers, be the first time they take a serious look at the Democratic field and begin to form stronger opinions. The prior debates were watched by millions of viewers, sure, but being so early in the process, many voters were still keeping their minds open.
Most polls show the race down to a Biden-Warren-Sanders battle for the majority of voters right now. That dynamic will continue into September, and it could even solidify further after the next debate. If Biden’s numbers continue to hold, and Warren consolidates more progressives, it’s plausible the race could tighten further into a two-person race depending on how well Bernie performs on stage in September.
We’re entering campaign crazy season when the low-digit candidates must pull out the stops and give it one last-ditch effort to make an impact on the race before their fundraising runs out. We will resume reporting after Labor Day and get back into campaign coverage with the upcoming debate. Things are about to get much more interesting in the Democratic primary very, very soon.