Friday, February 28, 2020


What will Democratic voters want the party to do if no candidate has a majority of the delegates going into the convention? I've been assuming that they'll want the front-runner nominated, assuming that candidate has a significant lead.

But Democratic voter might disagree. There's a new Fox poll that addresses this question -- and while you might believe that we should dismiss anything Fox produces, Fox polls seem serious and are generally in sync with other polls, and might even have a slight Democratic lean. (In this one, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Mike Bloomberg all beat President Trump decisively head to head in a general election, while Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar have smaller leads. FiveThirtyEight gives the pollster an A minus rating.)

One question in the poll, directed at Democratic voters, is:
Which of the following comes closer to your view of how the Democratic Party’s nominee should be picked at the convention?

1. The nomination should automatically go to the candidate who wins the most delegates in primaries and caucuses, even if that candidate doesn’t have a majority 2. The Democratic Party should have the flexibility to nominate someone else if no candidate has a majority 3. (Don't know)
The response: Only 38% said that the nomination should go to the candidate with the most delegates, while 50% said the party should have the flexibility to nominate someone else. (The rest had no opinion.)

This is the opposite of what Republicans told the same pollsters years ago. In a poll conducted in December 2015, 53% of Republican respondents said that the party should pick the candidate with the most delegates, while 39% were open to dealmaking. In a subsequent poll in March -- when Donald Trump was the clear delegate leader, but it wasn't certain that he could win a majority -- 59% wanted the nomination to go to the front-runner, while 35% were open to a deal.

You might think this is because most Democratic voters don't like Bernie Sanders. However, he's leading in the nomination polling with 31%, 13 points ahead of second-place Joe Biden, and he's the candidate Democratic voters think is most likely to beat Trump (65% think he can; Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden are at 57% and 56%, respectively, with Warren and Buttigieg further behind).

So Democrats are more open to litigating this at the convention than Republicans were, yet there's a sizable percentage who aren't (and it's more than just Sanders supporters). This suggests to me that a deal could be acceptable -- but would be controversial.

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