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Poll position: Peaks and troughs of US Democratic presidential candidates

James Cannon Boyce has been a senior adviser to two US presidential campaigns (Kerry and Richardson), worked with Vice President Al Gore (who should have run) and was involved with the creation of the Huffington Post. He is founder of Africa New Media Group.

Presidential elections in the US are driven by money, which in turn fuels an enormous amount of polling in the media.

It’s hard for people who haven’t lived through it to fully appreciate the money and media in US politics and how it drives the conversations in a way that I have never seen in any other country.

For example, billionaire Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg is spending $50-million in paid media in the next weeks almost exclusively in Super Tuesday states.

What this money and media does is drive an enormous amount of polling – much of it heavily over-reported with glee by media, always ignoring the margin of error which can be as much as +/- 4%.

And so you get graphs like the one below. The graph is from, which is a great resource of aggregated polling even though it began as fully right-wing and still seems to lean there.

Candidates ride this wave of money, attention and media to what are clearly peaks of popularity, and then when the media attention shifts from adoration (Uncle Joe is back in the race) to reality (Uncle Joe doesn’t know where the f*** he is today) the public’s attention fades and moves on to the next candidate.

The green is Joe Biden and Biden peaked with his announcement and entry into the race. He is holding at that level nationally out of name recognition but I see very little path for him to re-energise and re-peak.

John Kerry – and full disclosure, I was a senior adviser to John and am close with him and his family – peaked and faded badly in the US autumn, at one point falling behind the Rev Al Sharpton in Iowa. Now, I actually quite like Al but as I told John’s brother at the time, there are no black people in Iowa and we are trailing Al, so time to rock the boat.

John did indeed rock the boat and all the rats (DC consultants) left the boat. When it was back down to friends and family, and thanks to a Gephardt Dean murder-suicide, John re-peaked in January, we won and off we went.

Biden won’t re-peak.

The Bernie Sanders team believe in their heart and soul two things.

One, the polling is under-representing their support.

Two, the media is out for them – and there are tons of examples like this, enough so that I do believe there is credence to their claims.

Sanders’ team won’t know if their beliefs are true till the votes are counted. But their polling has been so consistent in a very narrow range, even when he had the heart attack, they might be right.

Kamala Harris peaked and is gone. (She is losing staff to Bloomberg, which is pretty much the ultimate insult.)

Pete Buttigieg is definitely heading up – we will see how he peaks.

And Elizabeth Warren is interesting because she is currently post peak but might have peaked earlier enough to actually be in perfect shape in two months’ time.

Where are Bloomberg and Deval Patrick? Somewhere in that Crayola mess at the bottom of the graph and I expect them to stay there.

Now, about profits.

People encourage candidates to get in the race – “You still got it Uncle Joe” – because they make money – a lot of money. is an amazing resource to learn what is actually happening and I glanced at Biden’s reporting.

He has raised $36-million, which in this game is nothing – I was shocked it was so low. Jeb Bush raised almost $100-million last time around.

He has spent $27-million – wait, what? That is a shockingly HIGH amount because he has spent all that money and driven himself down in the polls.

He has spent $10-million on salaries, $5-million on administration (I have no idea how) and $6-million on media.

That breakdown is a mess all around and it shows that his campaign is DC- run for profits. His top three contributors as bundlers are all major law firms.

Biden is toast. DM


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