Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
A much-discussed poll last month showing an effective three-way tie between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders at the top of the Democratic primary field has since proven to be something of an outlier. But the narrative that the Democratic primary has collapsed down into a three-way race between Biden, Warren and Sanders is still going strong.
Every president’s election-year nightmare — a recession — is suddenly looming over the 2020 race. In a survey released earlier this week by the National Association of Business Economics, 38 percent of economists predicted that the country will slip into an economic downturn next year, and another recent poll of economists put the chances of a recession in the next 12 months at 1 in 3. Those predictions are getting a lot of attention, and it’s not hard to see why — an economic slowdown in the middle of the presidential election cycle could reshape the race, potentially changing the calculus of Democratic primary voters and undermining President Trump, who has made the strong economy a central selling point of his presidency.
Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Yesterday, I wrote about the middle and upper echelons of the Democratic field: those candidates who are polling in the mid-single-digits or higher. You can certainly posit a rough order of which of these candidates are more likely to win the nomination. I’d much rather wager a few shekels on Joe Biden than Pete Buttigieg, for instance. But I don’t think there’s any hard-and-fast distinction between the top tier and the next-runners-up.
So far, Elizabeth Warren’s Democratic primary strategy seems to be working pretty well. She’s been steadily gaining support since the spring, when she was polling around fifth place, and is now neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average. Early-state activists think she’s gaining momentum, the most plugged-in subset of Democrats seems to be coalescing behind her, and she’s well-liked among primary voters. But she’s still not within striking distance of Joe Biden, who continues to hold a double-digit lead over the rest of the field.
If you thought all the remaining primary debates were going to be one-night affairs, think again. On Sunday, billionaire activist Tom Steyer got his fourth qualifying poll thanks to an early-state survey from Nevada, which means 11 candidates have now met the polling and donor thresholds for the Democrats’ fourth debate. And Tulsi Gabbard has announced that, based on one subset of respondents, she got a third qualifying poll this weekend, but the Democratic National Committee has confirmed that it is looking at different set of respondents and the poll will not count for her.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has said she has drawn crowds of up to 15,000. Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden has not exactly been packing them in, even as he continues to lead by a healthy margin in most polls of the Democratic presidential primary. So could Warren’s big crowds be picking up on something that the polls are missing?
Welcome to a special edition of FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
When the Democratic National Committee put the kibosh on plans for virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada, they may have pissed off the people who saw the event as a chance to give more people the opportunity to vote. But at least the DNC made the cybersecurity community happy.