2020年1月3日 星期五

On Politics Poll Watch: Sanders’s Strength

Without fresh polling, the money race is a key indicator of how the candidates are faring.

Welcome to Poll Watch from On Politics. Every Friday, we’ll bring you the latest data and analysis to track the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Current state of the race

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Who’s up? Who’s down? Here’s the latest.

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By Alexander Burns

National Political Correspondent

The new year began with a stunning announcement from the Bernie Sanders campaign: Mr. Sanders raised more than $34.5 million in the final quarter of 2019, a mammoth total that is likely to make him the best-funded candidate in the race (besides Michael R. Bloomberg) by a sizable margin. He may now be able to count on outspending his opponents in all of the early-voting states, and his powerful small-dollar machinery has the potential to sustain his candidacy indefinitely regardless of how he finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mr. Sanders has not been the only candidate to reveal a muscular fund-raising quarter: Pete Buttigieg collected $24.7 million and Joe Biden took in $22.7 million, followed by Elizabeth Warren at $21.2 million. Those figures are important displays of strength, and Mr. Biden’s haul represents a significant and much-needed improvement over his fund-raising in the previous quarter. And two underdog candidates raised sizable sums as well, with Andrew Yang collecting $16.5 million and Amy Klobuchar bringing in $11.4 million — totals that ensure they will be able to spend heavily in the final weeks before Iowa and New Hampshire.

Based on what we know about fund-raising, the Democrats could be headed for a long race, with four or five candidates capable of mustering the tens of millions of dollars required to compete for the nomination over the long haul. Mr. Bloomberg’s self-funded advertising spree continues to astound: His weekly spending on television commercials routinely exceeds what Mr. Buttigieg raised in the final three months of last year.

To settle the race early, it might take a dominant performance by one candidate in the first four nominating states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — followed by a convincing show of force on Super Tuesday in early March. Right now, we do not have a particularly good sense of how likely that scenario is. There has been no new polling since before the holidays, and no high-quality Iowa polling since November. If the last Democratic debate in December changed the state of the Iowa race — giving a jolt to Ms. Klobuchar, for instance — there has been no public data to prove it.

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But we also have no reason to anticipate a major change in the national shape of the race since mid-December, when Mr. Biden held a steady, single-digit lead over Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren, with Mr. Buttigieg and Mr. Bloomberg well behind in fourth and fifth place.

Until we have fresh polling, it might be most useful to think about the race in terms of which candidates looked strong last month and which candidates clearly have the resources to keep getting stronger. And Mr. Sanders is clearly at or near the top of the pack in both categories.

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D.N.C. to pollsters: Do more polls

NORTH CONWAY, N.H. — The morning after the Democrats’ last debate in December, the Democratic National Committee announced the thresholds to qualify for the next one, scheduled for Jan. 14 in Des Moines: 5 percent support in four qualifying polls, or 7 percent in two early-state polls. With those steeper requirements in place, just five candidates have qualified so far: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

Those who haven’t made the cut are getting angry about relying on the results of public polling — when no polls that count have been released since the last debate, on Dec. 19.

As Alex noted above, if any of the lower-tier candidates got a boost from that last debate, there have been no qualifying polls to reflect it. With just one week to go before the Jan. 10 qualification deadline, there’s been no way for Andrew Yang or Tom Steyer — who are on the fringe of making the debate stage — or anyone else (like Cory Booker, who needs a lot of help) to secure a spot.

The five candidates who have already qualified did so on the basis of polling from before Dec. 19. (Candidates must also receive donations from at least 225,000 supporters. Mr. Steyer announced Friday that he’d reached that threshold. Mr. Yang and Mr. Booker had already gotten there.)

The current polling gap has prompted a series of grievances from the candidates at risk of not making the January debate. Mr. Yang wants the D.N.C. to conduct its own polling, given the dearth of surveys from D.N.C.-approved news organizations and other polling firms. There are 16 polling groups on the D.N.C.’s list, including The New York Times, but none released a poll over the holidays.

Mr. Booker got eight other candidates to sign onto a letter asking for the polling threshold to be abolished entirely. Mr. Booker is spending more than $300,000 on TV to boost his numbers in Iowa — but there hasn’t been a qualifying Iowa poll since Nov. 17.

The D.N.C.’s response is essentially: Sorry, not sorry.

Tom Perez, the D.N.C. chairman, declined a request for an interview, but his spokeswoman, Xochitl Hinojosa, said there had been 17 polls in the time period that qualified for the January debate — though there were 26 for the December debate and 32 for the one in November. She suggested it was the fault of polling organizations, including The Times, that there weren’t more.

“The D.N.C. will not sponsor our own debate-qualifying polls of presidential candidates during a primary,” she said. “The New York Times and the expansive list of 16 qualifying poll sponsors should conduct more independent polling.”

Of course, there may not be a Jan. 14 debate, if the senators in the race are compelled to stay in Washington for an impeachment trial.

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