Oct 24, 2019 - Politics & Policy

The problem with 2020 presidential polls

Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden shake hands on the debate stage.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday has Elizabeth Warren leading by seven points in the 2020 Democratic race while a Wednesday CNN poll gave Joe Biden a 15-point advantage — both among their biggest polling leads so far.

Why it matters: Those back-to-back — and seemingly contradictory — results highlight why looking at a single poll in isolation cannot paint an accurate picture of what's happening in the race, especially months before the first votes are officially cast.

The big picture: FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver averaged out the eight major national polls that have been conducted since the October Democratic debate and compared them to an average of those same polls taken before the debate.

  • Under that analysis, only one candidate — Pete Buttigieg — moved by more than 1%.

The bottom line: Right now, the 2020 race is much more stable than the horse race of poll headlines might make it seem.

Go deeper: There's no election polling makeover for 2020

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