How Just 8 People Would Have Given Gabbard, Booker & Others A Debate-Qualifying Poll

NBC WSJ presidential poll

As stated in the first part of our analysis of the NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll results which were released Thursday, in order to qualify for the September debates, the Democrats raised the stakes and decided that candidates must poll at 2 percent or higher in four qualifying polls and receive 130,000 donations from unique donors.

The NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll was a so-called qualifying poll. While the general poll consisted originally of 800 registered voters, the presidential preference part of the poll consisted of 400 Democratic voters. The original sample of the people polled couldn’t quite muster the bare minimum selection size of n=400.

The first batch only had 278 Democrats included. Most people polled were actually independents. Consequently, they had to also include another 122 Democratic Primary voters. So, in the first batch of 800 people polled, only 278 of them were Democrats.

As noted in the first part of this analysis, the only candidates to get at least two percent in the NBC/WSJ poll just released are Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang.

Interview of Democratic Voters

Only the Democratic voters were interviewed for the part that everyone is interested in most: The Presidential preference poll.

Now, remember, this part of the NBC/WSJ survey was based on the 400 Democratic Primary voters (278 of the first 800 people polled, plus an additional 122 Democratic Primary voters that had to be added in order to make the survey statistically relevant).

A  sample of 400 people means that the survey results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent. So, in theory, any one of these candidates might have qualified if the voter sample had been larger.

Polled Democratic Voters’ First Choice

The table below has been ranked by percentage of the 400-voter poll group. To make it clear how much of a difference it can make whether someone actually picks up the phone from that unlisted number between 6pm and 9pm in the evening, consider this:

If Yang and O’Rourke would have gotten just four fewer voters choosing them, they would have fallen below the 2 percent threshold needed towards their four qualifying polls. Likewise, if Klobuchar, Williamson and a few others had gotten just four more voters choosing them, they would have qualified. If just 8 of Bernie Sanders’ voters had chosen Rep. Tulsi Gabbard instead, she would have qualified…

July poll results

…and when you consider people’s second choices, you can see how easily that could have happened.

Polled Democratic Voters’ Second Choice

If people had flipped their first choice for their second choice when polled, both Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Cory Booker could have counted this towards one of their qualifying polls.

See, if eight of the 12 voters who chose Tulsi Gabbard for their second choice merely picked her for their first choice, she would have been able to count this as a qualifying poll. Same goes for Booker. If the eight people who considered him their second choice chose him for their first choice, this would have counted towards one of his four qualifying polls.

second choice results july poll

Let us know in the comments area below if you think debate qualifying polls should include substantially more respondents to get a more accurate depiction of actual voter preference.


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