Reason Roundup

Is Biden's 2020 Lead Over? A New Poll Says Yes…Until You Read the Fine Print

Plus: The root of Twitter toxicity, the truth about the DOJ's attack on Backpage, and more...


A new national poll about the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates could be a bad sign for heretofore frontrunner Joe Biden. The poll, from Monmouth University, showed Sens. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) now in a two-way tie for first place, with both being the top candidate for 20 percent of poll respondents.

Biden, who was previously polling in the low 30s, was the top choice for just 19 percent of voters in the latest Monmouth poll. This represents a 13 percentage point drop for Biden, and a modest jump for both Warren and Sanders.

Other Democratic candidates polling at one percent or above include:

  • Sen. Kamala Harris at 8 percent
  • Sen. Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg at 4 percent
  • Andrew Yang at 3 percent
  • Julián Castro, Beto O'Rourke, and Marianne Williamson tied at 2 percent
  • Bill de Blasio, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 1 percent

Yet, as folks were quick to point out, these poll results are based on a relatively small sample size of voters—just 298 people—and they come with a large margin of error:

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from August 16 to 20, 2019 with 800 adults in the United States. Results in this release are based on 298 registered voters who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, which has a +/- 5.7 percentage point sampling margin of error. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

For more on the current state of the Biden/Bernie/Warren divide, see the latest from Nate Silver, who is skeptical about the Monmouth poll results.


A new study on social media hostility suggests that while "people at large do indeed perceive online environments as more hostile than offline," as scholar Michael Bang Petersen put it, it's not the "impersonal online environment" that causes this.


Sealed memos show how the feds manufactured a case against online classifieds site, despite knowing that Backpage was doing much more than other platforms to prevent underage posters and help law enforcement.

"Unlike virtually every other website that is used for prostitution and sex trafficking, Backpage is remarkably responsive to law enforcement requests and often takes proactive steps to assist in investigations," wrote Catherine Crisham and Aravind Swaminathan, both assistant U.S. attorneys for the Western District of Washington, in an April 2012 memo to their boss.

"At the outset of this investigation, it was anticipated that we would find evidence of candid discussions among [Backpage] principals about the use of the site for juvenile prostitution which could be used as admissions of criminal conduct," wrote Swaminathan and another federal prosecutor in a 2013 update, following an extensive investigation into Backpage practices that included grand jury testimony from employees and review of internal documents. "It was also anticipated that we would find numerous instances where Backpage learned that a site user was a juvenile prostitute and Backpage callously continued to post advertisements for her. To date, the investigation has revealed neither."

The prosecutors recommended against criminal charges. Nonetheless, federal and state authorities kept targeting Backpage and, last year, the FBI arrested former executives for alleged conspiracy, facilitating prostitution, and money laundering. "For far too long, existed as…a place where sex traffickers frequently advertised children and adults alike," then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said after the arrest, while U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Strange accused Backpage leaders of "placing profits over the well-being and safety" of women and children.

Such claims have long been bogus. Now, thanks to memos obtained by Reason, we know that the Department of Justice understood this all along.


  • New York Times columnist Bret Stephens—who likes to complain about how millennial snowflakes and their thin skin will be the death of free speech—tattled to a man's employer and sent the man a snippy email in response to a tweet (which no one had shared, and in which Stephens himself had not been tagged) where the man called him a bedbug. The internet is responding with appropriately mocking glee.

NEXT: Brickbat: A Picture Tells a Thousand Words

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  1. A new national poll about the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates could be a bad sign for heretofore frontrunner Joe Biden.


    1. Hello.

      I hope Nate does better this time around with his predictions.

      1. Yeah. All signs point to … BLUE WAVE!

        1. Are you counting on another three-cushion bank shot at the Electoral College to give the bigoted slack-jaws another victory?

          Disappointed clingers are among my favorite clingers.

          1. …says the disappointed clinger…

            1. I object to this nasty hit-and-run insult lobbed at the good Rev. Arthur Kirkland. And in this regard, Bret Stephens was right to complain to a university provost about the inappropriate conduct of a professor who accused him of being a “metaphorical,” ha-ha-ha, bedbug. How long will we continue to allow so-called “figurative speech” to be used as an excuse? See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “satire” case at:


          2. Rev, you are boring, and an asshole.

          3. on another three-cushion bank shot

            So now you’re admitting that Trump out-strategized Clinton. 4d chess.

          4. Slack-jawed, extra-chromosome-bearing closet case Arthur L. Hicklib doesn’t seem to realize that sinking a three-cushion bank shot takes a strong knowledge of geometry and physics, something that his 6th-grade education never addressed.

            1. Clearly, you don’t understand what the Rev. obviously does, which is that no one can ever make a three-cushion bank shot unless the Russians help them cheat.

          5. Haha. C’mon rev, we all know that you’re working for the trump/2020 campaign. And you’re doing a great job!

            Don’t change a thing, lil’ fella. Haha

        2. on Saturday I got a gorgeous Ariel Atom after earning $6292 this – four weeks past, after lot of struggels Google, Yahoo, Facebook proffessionals have been revealed the way
          HERE IS DETAIL

      2. The polls are now unrepresentative as even silver admits. The response rates from likely trump voters is much lower than for liberal candidates. Polls still adjust numbers based on what they believe the electorate will look like. And finally there is a bias of people saying to a person they wont vote for trump but will in a private booth. Silver noted all these effects after 2016.

        The media will continue pushing biased polling in order to affect voter turnout. But the effect is there.

        1. Unfortunately for them, pushing the polling backfired on the media in 2016. Media, “Look at these polls! Hillary is going to win in a landslide!” Disaffected Democrats who were steeling themselves to hold their nose and vote for Hillary because Trump, “Oh, I guess it’s OK to [stay home/not pull the lever for the top race/vote for Jill Stein, because she’s closer to my position], because she’s going to win without me.” Oops.

    2. We can’t be sure until they start polling the Russians.

  2. …a small number of hostile people have a big effect on the toxicity of online discussions.

    I’m looking at you, fellow commenter.

    1. Who would have thought that Jonathan Haidt reads Reason comments.

    2. Don’t you fuckin’ look at me!

    3. Piss off.

    4. Giggity!

      1. Shut up, Meg.

  3. The poll, from Monmouth University, showed Sens. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) now in a two-way tie for first place…

    Maybe we should elect them all to run us via committee.

    1. What the hell, throw in AOC for age balance, and call it a Troika.

      1. Would not.

      2. AOC is a stupid communist bitch, but I would not wish that on her.

    2. We could call it, I don’t know, a Soviet or something.

  4. The prosecutors recommended against criminal charges.

    Maybe they could then try the case like they do law enforcement officers whose misdeeds can’t be covered up.

    1. So what was the problem?

      Was it that the government doesn’t like any business becoming big in a short time?

      Was it that the government doesn’t like people dating?

      Was it that staff at DoJ didn’t like being proven wrong, even to each other in the hallway?

  5. …U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Strange accused Backpage leaders of “placing profits over the well-being and safety” of women and children.

    Unlike placing politics over justice.

    1. Hey, it’s women and children we’re talking about here!

      1. Are you SURE they are women?

        1. Questioning whether or not they’re women is enough to get you kicked off Twitter nowadays.

  6. Blistering letter from a man who resigned from the US Attorney’s Office in Kansas because of prosecutorial misconduct going on there.

    He should stay and fix his office!

  7. It got 9 likes and 0 retweets. I did not @ him. He does not follow me.

    Subtweeting one day hopefully will be a crime.

    1. *tweeting

  8. Jack Shafer on why journalists’ old tweets are fair game.

    Seems self evident.

  9. “Jack Shafer on why journalists’ old tweets are fair game.”

    I respectfully disagree. By unearthing comments journalists made years ago, conservatives are literally declaring war against our free press. It’s disgusting how dirty Drumpf and his supporters are willing to play.

    1. No, you are wrong about this OBL. The Left has made digging up the past a virtual blood sport. As the Brits say: Turnabout is fair play.

      It will be an interesting 16 months as ‘gems’ written by MSM assholes in FB and Twitter publicly come out in a steady drip. Don’t like it? Well, hate to break it to you, but that is the Left’s doing. Now they can start to own the consequences of their words and actions. It is about fucking time, to be blunt about it.

    2. “By unearthing comments journalists made years ago, conservatives are literally declaring war against our free press.”

      TRANSLATION: Its OK for liberals to dig up shit about conservatives, but digging up dirt about liberals is verboten.”

  10. Jack Shafer should be hired by Reason. Writing a piece about how it’s appropriate that people are digging up old tweets, he managed to still call Trump racist as an accepted point of fact, and called the people digging up the tweets bad faith actors.

    1. He’d fit right in.

    2. Jack Shafer is robbie.

      1. To be sure.

    3. Trump is a racist. His bigoted supporters do not wish to admit this– at least, not publicly.

      Carry on, clingers. So far as your betters permit.

      1. That’s an opinion. From someone who fantasizes about winning the “culture war” so he can orally rape people.

        When you were a child being bullied by the stronger boys, did you take it out by torturing small animals? Cuz you seem like someone who tortured small animals as a child.

        1. Perfect characterization

      2. Arty, Trump isn’t a racist. You are. You are a massive bigot.

      3. Quit denying your racism, hatred, and bigotry, “Rev”.

  11. Oklahoma’s attorney general claimed that the company marketed opioids to doctors while downplaying the risks of the addictive painkillers since the 1990s.

    Repeal the Controlled Substances Act.

    Then force personal responsibility on Americans by not falsely claiming that addiction is someone else’s fault besides the addict.

    Most people who take opioids never get addicted to the drugs. Some people just abuse substances for whatever sad ass reason.

    1. I don’t see why we can’t just accept that the good outweighs the bad with prescription opiods, but that some people will ultimately get addicted. We then set up local community-funded rehab centers for those that do get addicted.

      1. You cannot just expect the Drug Warriors to fold up shop.

        Weed will likely be universally legal in the USA in less than 10 years.

        The Drug Warriors shifted to some new menace and there wasn’t one so they made prescription pain killers a menace!

        Yup. Legal drugs are the menace.

  12. Dave Chappelle Slams Michael Jackson Accusers and “Cancel Culture” in Netflix Special

    Chappelle then went on to explain that though it may not be the right thing to say, he admits that he doesn’t believe the accusers who allege that the King of Pop sexually abused and raped them. “I don’t think he did it, but you know what? Even if he did do it … you know what I mean?” he paused, as the audience erupted into laughter. “I mean, it’s Michael Jackson. I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives, but it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it?”

    1. I mean, it’s Michael Jackson. I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives, but it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it?” Chappelle then asserts that had the accusers really been sexually abused by Jackson, “You know how good it must have felt to go to school the next day after that shit?”

      The main reason Chappelle said he doesn’t believe the accusers is because Macaulay Culkin has yet to come forward saying he was ever molested by Jackson or witnessed the singer assaulting anyone: “I’m not a pedophile, but if I was, Macaulay Culkin’s the first kid I’m fucking — I’ll tell you that right now.”

      I. am. dying. Hilarious. I had to stop reading the article because I don’t want to spoil it. I can’t wait to watch this!

      1. I like Pryor and Eddie Murphy “Raw” comedy but Dave Chappelle is a comedic genius that is not scared to make fun of life.

  13. So Elizabeth Strange is just another unprincipled opportunist who doesn’t think twice about ruining lives.

    She and Giggles Harris should get together and….

    1. As the four-time widow said:

      “The first one died from eating poisoned cookies, the second one died from eating poisoned cookies, the third one died from eating poisoned cookies, and the fourth one died because somebody shot him in the head.”

      “Really? Why would somebody shoot him in the head?”

      “He wouldn’t eat the fucking cookies.”

    2. C is for cookie and that’s good enough for me.

      – some kind of monster

      1. “Cookies are a sometimes food”
        -woke monster

  14. More bad economic news.

    Jeff Bezos current net worth: $110 billion

    Bezos is another person who’s been hit especially hard by the #DrumpfRecession. He’s lost a mind-boggling $14.6 billion this year. If this keeps up, he might fall below $100 billion.


    1. Amazon is burning.

    2. Bezo’s inability to keep his dick in his pants already cost him 30B….what is another 10B on top of that?

    1. Hopefully, one of them is named Blumenthal.

      1. Kerry?

    2. Can this trend spread to politicians?

  15. China’s Spies Are on the Offensive. China’s spies are waging an intensifying espionage offensive against the United States. Does America have what it takes to stop them?

    You know you are in trouble when you have lost some of the Propaganda Team Blue exposing Commies spying inside the USA.

  16. “Jack Shafer on why journalists’ old tweets are fair game.”

    We need someone to explain this?

  17. Silver is pointing the way when he’s talking about Iowa. It doesn’t really matter who leads in the national poll. It matters who wins in Iowa and New Hampshire for further campaign financing. It matters who wins California and Texas–to offset whomever, between Sanders and Warren, does well in the northeast. Then it matters who wins Florida.

    Harris is coming in second in Iowa. That’s a big deal. If she comes in second in Iowa, she’ll definitely still be around after Super Tuesday.

    If Biden has strong national support, that may not matter if he doesn’t come in first in any of those key states. In that Silver article, they have Biden coming in fifth in Iowa! He isn’t about to make up for that by beating Sanders and Warren in New Hampshire. I wouldn’t bet on him to beat Harris or Warren in California or Texas. And we haven’t even started talking about the super delegates.

    And right now, Biden is still benefiting from name recognition. Plenty of people outside of Iowa and New Hampshire still don’t know Harris from a hole in the ground. The more her opponents lambaste her for being pro-cop, the better she’ll do in Florida and Texas–and the more support her law and order credentials will hurt Biden’s centrist support in those states.

    If I had to bet, I’d say that Harris takes the nomination and Biden is out after Super Tuesday.

    1. P.S. I don’t know if anyone has coined the term yet, but “Trump effect” should be in common circulation. It’s sort of like the “Streisand effect”, where the attempt to hide something has the unintended consequence of publicizing it. The “Trump effect” should be when lambasting a candidate for something has the unintended consequence of making voters support that candidate.

      In a five way race in which the Democrats are trying to outdo each other on who can be further to the left than than the others, Harris probably benefits for being lambasted as the law and order candidate.

    2. P.P.S. Rereading, I meant to say that Harris is second and Biden is fifth in terms of favorability.

      That’s a big deal.

    3. Iowa is the key state for primary season – but because it is the heart of the area affected by the trade war. I suspect the polls won’t be accurate there because the biggest unknown is whether/which Dem will best tap into any disaffected R’s to get them to the D caucus. And those voters won’t be polled

      1. There wont be a GOP Primary, so Republicans in Iowa will likely go and vote in the Democrat Primary picking shitty candidates to sabotage the Party of slavery.

        Trump will be re-elected no matter who they pick. Democrats are all clowns.

        1. No they won’t. Caucuses are not primaries. You gotta stand up in public – in front of all your neighbors – and your candidate choice is known to all.

          It makes it more unlikely that R’s will attend a D caucus. But it most assuredly eliminates the stupidity of your strategery.

          1. The media wont cover it so we will never know.

            As a non-Lefty, I voted for Bernie sanders in the 2016 Democrat Primary in Georgia to fuck up Hillary. Then I voted for GayJay in Election 2016.

            I know from people I know, that I was not the only person.

            1. They’ll cover it by way of
              a)’attendance at the caucuses was high’ (over 225k prob means R’s there)
              b)some surprise re the important issue – likely trade – that hasn’t been part of the Dem debates and some candidate benefits from that

    4. I don’t know enough to refute what you’re saying but damn I really don’t want Prosecutor Harris to win. She is such a horrible person.

    5. Any liberal voting for Harris doesn’t give two shits if she’s a corrupt cop or not. All they care about is that she’s half-black and half-Indian, and that she has a vagina.

      She’s IdPol Hillary, and that’s good enough for them.

  18. Still no Boehm article on the Japanese trade agreement. Shocking.

    1. Boehm does not do journalism.

      Boehm is a Propagandist, so TDS articles only.

  19. So a poll of less than 300 self-identified democrats shows The top three in a tie within the margin of error, and all the headlines are ‘Joe Biden is dead’.
    God I love an impartial press.
    No chance at all of a headline, “no democratic candidate can get even 1/5 of democrats to love them”?

    1. Biden is the candidate of free love…

      1. No that’s Marianne Williamson.

  20. it’s not the “impersonal online environment” that causes this

    Why would Twitter have any reason to promote retards slap-fighting just because retards slap-fighting is the second most popular form of entertainment in American culture and provoking outrage earns them about 99% of their revenue? I can’t imagine any reason every damn cable news channel features discussion panels that primarily consist of angry people slinging shit at each other in 12-second soundbites, either. Or why I expect either one of them to, at any moment, introduce Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper* as their next featured debate opponents in a reasoned discussion of Bernie Sanders’ healthcare proposals.

    *Yeah, yeah – get off my lawn.

    1. From the links:

      Secret memos show government was lying about Backpage – 845 people are talking about this

      Why I resigned from the US Attorney’s office over systemic prosecutorial misconduct – 62 people are talking about this

      Some whiny bitch is pissed off I called him a bedbug – 10,700 people are talking about this

      I rest my case.

      1. Was it actually “bedbug” or “vunse”? Because “vunse” is a term of endearment.

    2. Ric Flair and Rowdy Roddy Piper

      Someone grew up watching Mid-Atlantic!

  21. Another Democrat with heavy ties to d.c. democrats and hollywood arrested for rape and blackmail.

      1. “”Charles Rivkin, former President Barack Obama’s former ambassador to France and a former top State Department official under Obama who was Obama’s 2008 campaign co-chair and has since taken over the MPAA as its chairman, announced on Monday morning to the board of the MPAA that Fabrizio has been terminated as a result of the arrest.””

        Democrats and Hollywood.

    1. According to a police affidavit, Fabrizio is accused of threatening a woman he met on a “sugar daddy” dating site. The police allege that Fabrizio and the woman had consensual sex once on Aug. 19, after which he paid her $400. After that, she did not want to see him again. According to the affidavit, Fabrizio sent numerous texts insisting on a second meeting, and threatening to expose her if she did not comply.

      “I know where you live,” he allegedly wrote. “I know where you work. Don’t think — Hospital would be happy to know that it’s young nurses are having sexual for money / Same for your landlord.”

      He was putting that pussy on a pedestal.

      1. This honestly.
        Why aren’t men doing this?
        Twitter and other social media is a two-way street.
        Did you have sex with a woman for money? Let people know. Just make sure any statute of limitation has expired.
        Did that woman abort your child? Her parents may want to know. You can tell her employer too.

    2. somebody had to step up.

  22. Hunter Biden had a deal with a ukranian oil company that was so shady, john Kerry’s son left the equity firm he helped found and reported it to Dept of State. This is the no scandals under Obama.

    1. Funny how the Obama administration was as invested in Ukrainian interests as they accuse Trump of being with the Russians.

  23. >>>metaphorical bedbug

    not the same as bedbug, Bret Stephens.

  24. Don’t worry about the democrat’s nominee for the POTUS.
    It won’t be Biden.
    It won’t be Warren.
    It won’t be Harris.
    It will be Hillary.
    She will be the one running (again) for the POTUS position for the democrats come next summer.
    If you disagree, she will have you executed in your cell while your roommate stepped out, have the tapes erased and then have the jailer(s) transferred to a different assignment. But at least you will die knowing everything that happened is on the up and up.

    1. Can she campaign from an iron lung?

  25. Yet, as folks were quick to point out, these poll results are based on a relatively small sample size of voters—just 298 people—and they come with a large margin of error:

    I originally opened the comments to say thanks for providing some useful background. Everyone’s propensity is to comment on articles they disagree with so I want to start balancing myself with positives. But then I reached the above and immediately wondered what the sample sizes in contradicting polls are only to discover (shockingly) this obvious comparison is nowhere to be found. Can we do just a little bit of work here? C’mon people, throw us a bone.

    1. It’s not a relatively small sample size. It is in fact the exact sample size required to produce that margin of error.

      If they had wanted a smaller margin of error – say 5%, then the sample size would have been 385 people. A 4% margin of error – 600 people. A 3% margin of error – 1067 people.

      Since this poll is meaningless – and the ‘margin of error’ won’t kill anybody, there is a serious cost advantage to sticking with the under-400 sample size.

  26. Florida woman who sued for front-yard vegetable gardens dies.

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