Debate Watch Party & Straw Poll Results!

Last night members of the Four Freedoms and Lexington Democratic Clubs gathered to watch the second night of Democratic debates. Nearly 50 people packed the back room of Dorrian's for the festivities, which even included an impromptu birthday party for State Democratic Party Vice Chair Trudy Mason!

We also had folks participate in a straw poll of all the candidates. The ultimate winner was.....Elizabeth Warren! Here are the full results and analysis by poll organizer Charles Riggs:

The original purpose of this straw vote was to see whether there would be a difference between the results from those folks who had missed the first debate and those who had seen the first debate. The results certainly confirm what a lot of people had suspected.

Warren must have really covered herself in glory [Wednesday] night. 92% of those who saw the first debate gave Warren a ranking while only 71% who missed the first debate gave her a ranking.

To a lesser extent, it was the same with Booker. 76% of those who saw the first debate gave Booker a ranking while only 64% who missed the first debate gave him a ranking.

Castro’s performance obviously was among the most impressive. 68% of those who saw the first debate gave him a ranking but only 50% of those who missed the first debate gave him a ranking.

The fourth candidate who appears to have done very well for herself is Tulsi Gabbard. Those who saw the first debate gave her a 28% ranking while those who did not gave her a measly 7% ranking.

We know that Warren ended up the winner tonight when all the votes from both surveys were counted together. We did not have the time, however, to do a separate instant runoff count for each of the two surveys. I intend to do that over the next few days. In the meantime, here were the percentages for the winning finalists in the two surveys:

Warren 92
Booker 76
Buttigieg 68
Castro 68
Harris 68
Sanders 68
Gillibrand 56
Biden 52

Buttigieg 86
Harris 79
Warren 71
Booker 64
Sanders 64
Biden 57

(Keep in mind that this number of finalists is very unusual. More normally the number veers roughly between three and five finalist candidates. I suspect that there may have been a widespread misunderstanding that all candidates were supposed to be ranked, rather than just the candidates one likes, which may have incorrectly inflated the support figures for a few of the candidates.)

The most significant and salient difference between the two sets of percentage figures for the finalists shows up with Castro, who is in the winners circle in the “watched” group but doesn’t make the 50% +1 cut in the “missed” group.

And those are the most notable aspects of the differences between the two surveys, I think.

I think, at this point, it makes sense to look at the finalists’ percentage figures when the two surveys are combined:

Warren 85
Buttigieg 74
Booker 72
Harris 72
Sanders 67
Castro 62
Biden 54
Gillibrand 54

In light of these results, there seems to be a consensus that Klobuchar and O’Rourke, once thought A team candidates, have proven to be duds. The brash newcomers who haven’t been thought of previously as significant contenders but whose presence is the most unexpected in these results are Castro and Gillibrand. Castro makes a lot of sense in light of his boffo debate performance Wednesday. Gillibrand is a little harder to figure out. Apparently she came into Thursday night’s event with a strong bedrock of support among those who watched the first debate, for some reason, before tonight’s debate even started, even though she participated in tonight’s debate, not yesterday’s. Odd. It may just be a statistically insignificant squiggle.

Anyway, those are the most notable takeaways in these two surveys, as I see it.

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