Early 2020 Polling Shows Joe Biden Leading Among Democrats — But Here's The Problem With The Data

ByMonica Busch
Theo Wargo/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Although the next presidential election is still nearly two years off, buzz surrounding potential 2020 Democratic nominees is at an all-time high. This weekend, an early 2020 poll showing Joe Biden leading among other potential Democratic contenders amped up the excitement.

The CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll surveyed 455 likely Democratic caucus-goers, according to the Des Moines Register. Poll respondents indicated that Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Beto O'Rourke were their top three choices for potential Democratic presidential nominees.

The poll is significant because the Iowa caucuses are the first major electoral event during presidential primaries. And although the Iowa caucuses do not decide which person ultimately receives their respective party's nomination, they essentially function as the first formal temperature check on each participating campaign.

Those polled also indicated that potential caucus-goers are more concerned about a would-be candidate's ultimate success than they are with how well he or she aligns their platform with their personal beliefs, per CNN. Approximately 54 percent of respondents said that they want to back a candidate that will beat President Trump. In turn, according to CNN, about 40 percent of respondents said that they want a candidate with whom they agree on major issues.

In turn, many voters — about 49 percent — said that they believed a seasoned politician was the best type of person for Democrats to run, according to the results. By contrast, 36 percent of respondents said that a newcomer was the best bet for success.

Iowa's caucuses aren't going to take place until February 2020, which means that, while this week's poll results do offer some insight into where voters stand at this point time, there is more than enough time for the political landscape to shift, and voters' opinions along with it. And the fact of the matter is that polling — and especially polling that takes place this far out — can be wildly unreliable, as was witnessed in the lead up to, and eventual fallout from, the 2016 presidential election.

Back then, virtually every poll showed Trump losing his bid by a wide margin, and using those polls, many analysts and commentators all but assumed that Hillary Clinton would be the next president. Of course, when the votes were counted, this turned out to be far from the case.

Zach Gibson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Trump's presidency has been extremely divisive for both Democrats and Republicans, which makes it easy to get caught up in the excitement around early polling. But the reality is that none of the potential contenders have officially declared their intent to run, and many have said that they won't share such decisions until after the new year. So not only have these poll results come out some 23 months before the next election, but they're also not based on a pool of formal candidates.

That being said, it's important to check in with how voters are feeling. And while this week's poll may not reflect who Democrats will select to challenge President Trump in 2020, it is a reflection of where some key voters currently stand, and taking stock of that can be helpful in the long run.