NBC's Fake Polling Notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton Maintains Big Lead over Bernie Sanders

NBC's Fake Polling Notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton Maintains Big Lead over Bernie Sanders

Photo by By Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Bernie Sanders supporters are very happy about a certain "weekly tracking poll" from NBC News: it shows that a mere six percentage points separate their candidate from Hillary Clinton among national Democratic voters. The polling news organization reported it as the "closest Democratic race" to solicit exactly that kind of a reaction.

The particular passage warming the hearts of Sanders fans is this:

While Clinton maintains a very large lead in the delegate contest, national support in our most recent NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll shows a race that has dipped to only a 6-point difference between the candidates among registered Democrats and Democratic-leaners. This is the smallest gap since the beginning of the tracking poll in late December.

Wow! Fuh realz?

Except it's a fake poll. What exactly is the NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll, and what are its methodologies?

The NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking poll was conducted online March 21 through March 27, 2016 among a national sample of 6,521 adults aged 18 and over, including 5,741 who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this non-probability survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.

What's a "non-probability survey", you ask? It's basically a survey for a population where the sample is not randomized. Its main proper use are among highly targeted populations who all engage in the same behavior.

In other words, the polling sample is badly skewed towards freepers who spend all their time rushing online polls. Which is fine if the goal is to gauge the preference of that particular segment of the population, but the method known as non-probability survey is useless when trying to ascertain the preference of a general group of voters. It would be an effective tool if Bernie Sanders wanted to know whether supporters on his email list prefer peanut butter or kiwi jelly, but it's useless to actually determine support of a voter universe that spans well beyond the type of people likely to sign up to take online surveys everyday for a week.

Needless to say, the type of people who are likely to sign up to take online surveys everyday for a week and have the time to do so are very prone to getting Berned. Given that, it actually speaks to Hillary's strength that she's actually leader Sanders at all in a poll that skewed.

Confirming that Hillary Clinton is in fact still leading Bernie Sanders by blowout margins among Democrats, Public Policy Polling released a poll today showing Clinton with an 18-point lead (54-36). What's more, for all the talk of "enthusiasm" behind Sanders, it's Clinton's voters who are more committed to their candidate. 84% of Clinton voters are fully committed, while only 61% of Bernie supports say the same. The PPP data also reveals that just 24% of Democrats identify themselves as "very liberal", leaving the broad swath of the Democratic coalition as center-Left.

The data is also supported by the actual voting patterns of Democrats in the primaries so far. Clinton is ahead by more than 2.5 million popular votes, and she has won wipeout majorities among the most loyal Democratic voting bloc: black voters. The popular vote count for votes cast thus far follows PPP's polling rather closely, at a 16-point margin for Clinton.

I'm sorry Bernie backers, but it seems that math is holding onto its well-known pro-Hillary bias.



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