Polling History Can't Predict 2020 Race, Ipsos Director Says

Photo Credit: Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock
May 13, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

The 2020 presidential election is still 539 days away, but pollsters are already hard at work trying to capture the national pulse in this unprecedented political environment.

“I don't know that you can look at any previous elections or modern polling history to predict what will happen in 2020,” Mallory Newall, director of Ipsos News and Polls, told Cheddar. “The field is so large.”

So far, there are 21 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) leading in Ipsos’ latest poll. The two are followed by other hopefuls such as Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

But Newall added that front runners at this early stage are largely based on name recognition. “At this point it is about who is well known by the American public,” she said.

Ipsos also found that beating President Trump is the most salient issue for Democratic voters — nearly 50 percent said it was the most important candidate trait when considering who to vote for in the primaries.

Polling also shows, however, that other voters are eager for someone new or different.

“What you are seeing there is just a sense of wanting an outsider or someone new and different to come in and shake up the establishment,” Newall said, adding that such voters tend to support candidates like Buttigieg and Harris.

Yet, pollsters expect attitudes will change following the first primary debate, which will give the candidates a chance to really introduce themselves and allow voters to see the 2020 hopefuls all side-by-side.

“I definitely expect to see some polling start to change or at least take shape after that,” Newall said.

The first debate will be held in June 2019 and will be hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo. CNN will host the second debate in July.

For full interview click here.