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What the 2020 presidential polls tell you — and what they don't

The 2020 presidential race is underway with 10 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination already. But how should you watch this race so early on?

On this week's episode of "Where Did You Get This Number?", CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys Anthony Salvanto and CBS News political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns discuss the dynamics influencing the early presidential polls, particularly looking at how voters are thinking and what they're thinking about.

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

Democratic voters are wide open to a potential candidate to run against Donald Trump, unlike in the past when there tended to be someone who was next in line to lead, according to Huey-Burns. She said Democratic voters are thinking less about their own personal bottom lines and using a political science type of structure to assess the candidates.

"But I think that, at least among Democrats, and I've talked to voters about this, that they feel so upset about the last election that they are concerned about kind of voting with their hearts versus voting with their minds," Huey-Burns said.

She cited her experience at an event for Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Iowa, where even some of Warren's most ardent supporters were asking questions about her electability against President Trump.

"She does have this constituency that just adores her. I mean, I saw people with 'she persisted' tattoos, and others who had all this Elizabeth Warren memorabilia," Huey-Burns said. "But even those who really loved her did raise the question about, 'Well, can she beat Donald Trump? I'm just not sure.'"

And this open-mindedness among Democratic voters may also help several candidates who aren't as well-known nationally.

"And that's the other theme I'm sensing in this campaign so far, that there are candidates who are really enjoying status as an underdog," Huey-Burns said. "Because we had seen in the past election, that just because you're polling well, or you're well-known and you're kind of seen as the next in line for the party, doesn't always sit well with voters."

Another trend emerging among Democratic candidates is not taking any corporate political action committee money. Huey-Burns said while grassroots fundraising can help create momentum and therefore garner more donations, there is a limited supply of money, especially given the number of candidates in the field, on top of how expensive it can be to run a campaign.

"Can these campaigns continue to afford to take this stance?" Huey-Burns asked.


Subscribe to "Where Did You Get This Number?" and download the latest episode to listen to more of their conversation on the story-lines and issues underlying the 2020 presidential campaign.

The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every other Monday.

Producers: Oscar Gonzalez, Allen Peng

Host: Anthony Salvanto

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