Bernie’s New Battleground Polls Prove Nothing

Sanders’ campaign is being very selective with the questions it asks voters.

On Monday the Bernie Sanders campaign released data showing Bernie Sanders beating Trump handily in head to head polls in the key battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. This seems to be part of a strategy to bolster Sanders’ in his contest for the Democratic primary, where the ability of various candidates to beat Trump in 2020 has been a key point of contention.

One of the pollsters behind the data, Ben Tulchin Research, who has worked for Sanders previously, told the media. “I don’t think any other candidate is as well positioned as Bernie is in these three states.”

However, while the polling does indicate Sanders is competitive against Trump, it does not show that he is the most competitive of the potential Democratic candidates. The polling, clearly tailored to the strategic needs of the Sanders campaign, does not ask respondents how they would vote in any alternative matchups, with other potential Democratic nominees.

Polling from earlier in the year in all three states did, and found former Vice President Joe Biden consistently outperforming Sanders in 1v1 contests against Trump. The only exception to this is a poll from March showing both Sanders and Biden losing to Trump, by equal margins of 1%.

The tables below show the polls in question, the dates they were conducted, the polling agency which conducted them, the rating given to that agency by fivethirtyeight.com, and the respective spreads of Sanders and Biden.

Michigan

PollSanders SpreadBiden Spread
Tulchin Research (b) April 14-18 +11
Firehouse Strategies (c-) March 19-21 -1-1
Emerson College (b+) March 7-10 +5+7
Glengariff Group (b) Jan 24-26+11+13

Pennsylvania

PollSanders SpreadBiden Spread
Tulchin Research (b) April 14-18 +8
Emerson College (b+) March 26-28 +9+ 10
Firehouse Strategies (c-) March 19-21 Even+7

Wisconsin

PollSanders SpreadBiden Spread
Tulchin Research (b) April 14-18+10
Firehouse Strategies (c-) March 19-21 +7+13
Emerson College (b+) March 15-17+4+9

The same polls showed Both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris beating Trump, on average, but by smaller margins than either Biden or Sanders, with Harris performing slightly better than Warren.  One person not ranked on any of these polls is the rising star of the Democratic primary race, “Mayor Pete” Butteigeg, who has been quickly gaining support, and is from South Bend, Indiana, just south of the border with Michigan.

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