Monmouth University’s poll showing a three-way tie between former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders atop the 2020 Democratic field for president was an outlier, the university’s polling director said Wednesday.
“[I]t is clear that the Monmouth University Poll published Monday is an outlier,” polling director Patrick Murray said in a statement. “I understood when we released our poll that the picture it painted diverged from others.”
Murray’s statement came after the release of other polls showed Biden ahead of Sanders and Warren, usually by double digits – a trend that has remained steady throughout the Democratic primary race. Many speculated that Monmouth might be an outlier, given no hugely notable events had occurred that would’ve changed the race substantially.
Murray defended Monmouth’s polling process, citing that polls are released within 95% certainty that the results are within the margin of error, but that sometimes, polls fall outside that confidence interval and show results that diverge from the normal spread.
The director said that Monmouth didn’t do anything differently than its normal methodology.
“(We) used the same methods in each case,” he said. “The demographic and ideological profile of our Democratic voter subsample in this poll was nearly identical to our prior polls and there were no significant differences for this group in the other trend questions we have been asking this year.”
Monmouth’s other five national polls this year have fit with other public opinion surveys of the 2020 Democratic primary electorate.
“We could’ve adjusted the weighting to comport with other polls or we could have simply sat on the numbers, but neither of those actions meet our standards for transparency and disclosure,” he said.
Quinnipiac University’s poll, released early Wednesday, found Biden leading the pack with 32% support among registered Democrats and Democratic independent voters. Warren and Sanders followed with 19% and 15%, respectively, relatively unchanged from Quinnipiac’s earlier August poll.
A CNN poll conducted by SSRS released last week with Biden at 29% support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, followed by 15% for Sanders and 14% for Warren.
“In the end, we must put out the numbers we have,” Murray said. “They should always be viewed in the context of what other polls are saying, not only as it applies to the horse race, but also for our understanding of the issues that motivate voters in their decision-making process.”