Pollfish Survey Data Shows Democrats in the Lead for Election

This article originally appeared on the Washington Post.


Lots of commentary has accompanied the “Trump Bump,” as the alleged bump in Donald Trump’s poll numbers has been called. While most polls had Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, up by a solid 10-point margin as late as March, this lead seemed to have shrunk. Huffington Post’s Pollster counts about 100 head-to-head polls for Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump since the start of 2016. Their model estimates that Clinton’s lead has shrunk to 4 points.

Is this shift real? We do not think so. Based on data we have collected using Pollfish, we see the opposite: a slow and steady rise for the eventual Democratic nominee.

Here’s why the “Trump Bump” is misleading. 

With Trump having secured his party’s nomination, it is not surprising that he would narrow the gap in so called match-up polls that explicitly name the candidates. Clinton’s poll numbers are likely temporarily deflated until she secures her party’s nomination or Sanders drops out of the race, because wayward Republicans have returned to the fold more quickly than Democrats.

Moreover, with the Democratic primary still underway, some Democrats may be answering polls strategically. In other words, Sanders supporters have an incentive to try to boost Sanders’ standing by saying they would vote for Sanders over Trump, but not Clinton over Trump. This could be why polls appear to show that Sanders is a more viable general election candidate. But the vast majority of Republican voters, 93 percent, supported Romney in 2012, despite a contentious primary. And the vast majority of Democratic voters supported Obama in 2008 — 89 percent — despite their contentious primary.

So we’ve done a different kind of polling. 

For these reasons, it is good not to put too much stock in these head-to-head polls. This is why we’ve done something different in our polling.

We have been fielding just one question since the start of the year: Who are you most likely to vote for in the upcoming presidential election? Respondents choose among these answers: definitely Republican candidate, likely Republican candidate, likely Democratic candidate, definitely Democratic candidate, or not voting. This question focuses on the party, rather than the individual candidate, because we believe the question will more accurately reflect voting in November than does polling in the spring.

Get more info on our survey methodology.