Is the Daily Kos Straw Poll actually representative of Democratic voters? Probably not

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas is a known critic of Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. Late last year, he argued that Sanders’s moment has passed during a national TV segment.

“I actually think Elizabeth Warren takes a great number of Bernie supporters,” he argued. “She’s my favorite, I’ll just disclose that, but I also love Kamala Harris, and I love Kirsten Gillibrand…Bernie Sanders will have a role in that conversation I think he wants to be a part of that conversation but I think his moment has passed.”

To reinforce the idea that these Senators are now the banner holders for the progressive movement, Daily Kos has been releasing straw polls of its membership.

In the first straw poll, released January 8, Elizabeth Warren lead the pack, followed by former vice president Joe Biden, California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, former Texas Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke, and finally Sanders. In the second straw poll, released January 22, Kamala Harris leads. Sanders is at fourth.

“Big numbers shift from two weeks ago showing an unsettled field. No reason for anyone to really be settled down at this point. Having a favorite is great!” Moulitsas commented. “But with so many amazing candidates to choose from, we get to enjoy the campaign as it plays out. This is no longer a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. Most of the top contenders are solid on policy.”

We can agree to disagree on whether Harris, Biden, Sanders, and Warren share identical politics (they don’t). But in promoting his poll, Moulitsas told The Hill, “In the span of just two weeks, the Democratic presidential primary landscape has already shifted.”

It’s possible that the users of Daily Kos have shifted quite a bit during those two weeks, but is this poll actually representative of Democratic voters? The poll is certainly receiving its fair share of media coverage. The first round was coveredby Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

Let’s compare the Kos poll to Morning Consult and Politico’s national Democratic primary poll. The tracking poll conducted between Jan 18 and 22, has the current standing as so:

  • Biden: 17 percent
  • Sanders: 12 percent
  • Harris: 4 percent
  • O’Rourke: 4 percent
  • Warren: 3 percent
  • Kerry: 2 percent
  • Booker: 2 percent
  • Gillibrand: 1 percent

This poll isn’t an outlier. Both national and state polls have consistently put Biden and Sanders as the frontrunners in this race. While polling a year out is hardly predictive – meaning it won’t reflect the final results, especially as the first few states votes and several candidates drop out – early frontrunners are typically strong candidates in presidential primaries. Barring scandals or simply choosing not to run, they are the ones shaping the conversation, not simply a “part” of it, as Moulitsas relegated Sanders. The Vermont Senator is outperforming Moulitsas’s favored candidates combined.

As for the idea that Warren will be pilfering Sanders’s voters, it is probably too early to say, but there is some evidence that this may not be the case. In early January, Change Research ran a New Hampshire poll that showed Sanders holding a narrow lead over Biden.

As far as I can tell, this is the only poll out there that shows first and second preferences by candidate. What it showed is that if Sanders wasn’t in the race, slightly more of his supporters would go to Biden than to Warren. And if Biden wasn’t in the race, more of his supporters would go to Sanders than Warren. For Warren backers, their second choice is Biden.

Of course this is just one poll. But it shows that Warren and Sanders may not necessarily be fighting over eachother’s voters just yet, but instead over Joe Biden’s. And so far, Sanders is doing a much better job, without even campaigning.

2 thoughts on “Is the Daily Kos Straw Poll actually representative of Democratic voters? Probably not

  1. Abby Bailey

    What many people don’t know about the straw polls on daily kos is that most of the Bernie supporters have left the site and that’s why he is polling so low.

    The reason why people left is because Markos told members that Hillary was going to be the candidate in March before most of the country even voted and if anyone said anything that wasn’t supportive of her that they could leave the site. Anyone who didn’t follow his rules were banned from the site. Even though what people said was the truth. Other members just left because Markos and the Hillary supporters were censoring free speech.

    Hillary was a warmonger. She used pay for play during her tenure as SOS where she got foreign governments, corporations and people to give millions to her foundation in order for her to influence the business that they had with her state department. She gave speeches to banks for large pay days and her using her private email server was against the government rules. Things like this were truthful, but they got you banned from DK.

    Markos sold out his site and the purpose it was created. Now since Hillary lost the election to the worst candidate ever most of the remaining members have bought into the Russian propaganda psyops and anyone who goes against that is now banned.

    So when you see a DK straw poll just understand why it’s not accurate.


    1. zaidjilani

      Abby, I had wondered what the Sanders-curious population of the website was like, since I was aware that the website’s leadership is antagonistic to the senator and had generally discouraged support for him. Thanks for the insight.


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