Bernie Sanders Is Correct: He Polls Better than Hillary Clinton Against the Republicans

PolitiFact just issued a completely incorrect ruling on one of their “fact checks.”  Here is the correct ruling on the following statement from Bernie Sanders:

34justice Truth Ruling

PolitiFact called it “false” because they found a few polls in which Clinton does better.  Their “fact checking” was grossly negligent, however.  While the meaning of “Almost all of” can be debated and I would have rather Sanders said “In general,” the worst anyone who has actually done their homework could rule this statement is “mostly true.”

RealClearPolitics compiles results from every poll and reports averages in many matchups.  The chart below shows how Clinton and Sanders fare on average against each of the top five Republican candidates (shown in order of the candidates’ average ranking in Republican primary polls).  As is obvious from looking at the graph, Sanders polls better on average than Clinton against each of the candidates, and significantly better than Clinton against Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the two leading candidates in the Republican field (for example, while Sanders beats Cruz by 3.3 percentage points in the average poll, Clinton loses to Cruz by an average of 1.3 percentage points).

RCP Polling Averages

People can have reasonable debates about how to interpret the poll results.  Should Democrats be most worried about Marco Rubio?  Maybe.  Do the results mean much, given that all the matchups are hypothetical at this point and the general election is still a long way away?  Maybe not.  But the evidence we do have is clear: the polls absolutely, as Bernie Sanders said, “suggest that [he is] a much stronger candidate against the Republicans than is Hillary Clinton”

That may not have been PolitiFact’s ruling, but it is the truth.  How’s that for a fact check?

Update (2/26/16): As the chart below shows, newer RealClearPolitics data shows that Sanders is now doing even better relative to Clinton against the leading Republican candidates than he was doing a month ago.


HuffPost Pollster also aggregates polling data.  Democrats will be comforted by their results, which are much more favorable to both Sanders and Clinton than the results from RealClearPolitics.


What is also abundantly clear from both sites’ models is that, as time goes on, Sanders’ standing against the top Republican candidates improves and Clinton’s gets worse.  These polls still certainly aren’t the be-all and end-all of electability evidence, but especially given the trends and Sanders’ superior popularity among millennials and Independents, the argument that these polls tell us nothing is getting harder and harder to justify.  I recommend basing your vote on your values, not on perceived electability, but if electability really is your primary concern, the data very obviously indicates that Sanders is the better pick.

Update (3/19/16): Hillary Clinton is now polling much closer to (though still not) as well as Sanders against Donald Trump, but is getting destroyed relative to Sanders against Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

RCP 3-19-16

HuffPostPollster 3-19-16

Update (4/12/16): Sanders is still outperforming Clinton in head-to-head general election matchups.



Update (5/17/16): Sanders still has a large head-to-head polling advantage over Clinton when matched up against Trump, who will be the Republican nominee.

H2H Polls 5-17-16


Filed under 2016 Election, Media

7 responses to “Bernie Sanders Is Correct: He Polls Better than Hillary Clinton Against the Republicans

  1. Thanks, Ben. As you may recall, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul won all the debates in real-time polls (I believe it was every single one, and by huge margins), but then those results were either never reported or “magically” reversed by corporate media reporting.

    Historically, oligarchies MUST control government to have policies they want, what is used for money to enrich themselves and buy minions, and media to entrance the public. In the US today corporate media is 6 companies that control ~90% of what Americans receive as “news” to tell them war is just, big banks must be bailed out, and austerity is necessary (also work until age 70).

    Corporate media are lying sacks of spin that is easy to document:

  2. Oh, and you may recall that Dennis had two siblings die during his 2008 campaign. I emailed my friend and Dennis’ Domestic Policy Advisor about this “coincidence,” and although he and I freely discussed in person such acts (such as the US government assassinating Martin King), he declined to respond.

    Will Bernie talk about the manipulated polling and voting through electronic and non paper-trail methods? Will he ever state the “Emperor’s New Clothes” truths about illegal wars? Will he touch the dark game-changers such as Martin’s assassination for planning to occupy DC until the Vietnam War was ended?

    I don’t think so. So what does that mean???

    Documentation on Martin:

  3. How many of the polls on RealClear Politics did you crunch? I don’t see the analysis you cite on their site, so I’m guessing you did your own compilation – which would be helpful to post. I’m interested, for instance, in how far back you’ve gone…as it appears PolitiFact didn’t dredge very deep at all.

  4. Alan

    These RCP averages include old polls. E.g., the last data point in Rubio vs. Sanders is from 12/20, and in that poll it’s Rubio 45%, Sanders 42%. And the last data point in Rubio vs. Clinton is from 1/13, and it’s Rubio 46%, Hillary 47%. Trying to resolve electability arguments with early-in-the-cycle polls, especially when the candidates aren’t equally known, isn’t going to give you useful answers.

    • Thanks for the comment – as I wrote above: “Do the results mean much, given that all the matchups are hypothetical at this point and the general election is still a long way away? Maybe not.” The purpose of this post was just to conduct a fact check.

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