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(EDITOR’S NOTE, 4/30/19, 5:00 PM ET: This headline has been changed from “CNN and MSNBC Caught Manipulating Poll Numbers to Give Joe Biden Artificial Edge” to “Recent Poll Showing Biden in Lead Confuses and Distorts Support for Bernie Sanders” to more accurately reflect the CNN poll results and the information reported on by MSNBC. The CNN poll does not include data for specific demographics for Sanders, while the MSNBC graphic did not accurately reflect data from a separate poll. There is no evidence that suggests these were coordinated misinterpretations on the part of either network. We apologize to our readers for the confusion.)

Older respondents were over-represented, and younger voters were under-represented in a recent CNN/SSRS poll gauging support among the 2020 Democratic field of presidential candidates.

In the poll released April 30, Biden is shown with an impressive 24-point edge over Sanders, with 39% of voters saying they supported him, compared to just 15% for the Vermont senator. However, a Grit Post analysis of the results found that the poll largely excluded voters under the age of 50 in coming to that conclusion.

Also, the poll didn’t give respondents the option to offer their approval or disapproval of Sen. Sanders, even though the poll did ask respondents to give their approval or disapproval of lesser-known candidates like Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and Eric Swalwell (D-California), and even Miramar, Florida mayor Wayne Messam.

“We’d like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people – or if you have never heard of them. How about Joe Biden?” the poll asked. “How about Pete Buttigieg? … How about Kirsten Gillibrand? … How about Tim Ryan? … How about Eric Swalwell? … How about Seth Moulton?”

The phrase “How about Bernie Sanders?” does not appear in the poll.

In the overall breakdown of how the CNN/SSRS poll arrived at the conclusion that Biden had 39% support to Sanders’ 15%, the age breakdown of respondents shows that the only data available was for ages 50 to 65+. The columns for ages 18-34 and 35-49 all read “N/A,” meaning there weren’t at least 125 people who were part of those age groups participating in the poll to provide an adequate enough representation of the greater U.S. population.

Age breakdown of respondents in a CNN/SSRS poll released April 30, 2019 (Photo: CNN/SSRS)

Confusingly, age breakdowns were included in the “how about” questions, but since respondents were not asked about Sanders in the “how about” section, his support amongst the 18-34 and 35-49 age demographics in that part of the survey was not revealed. In 2016, Sanders’ base was overwhelmingly made up of millennials and Gen-Xers. According to The Economist, Sanders won 70% of voters under 30 in the 2016 Democratic primaries and caucuses, and that number was even higher in some states. Despite losing the Pennsylvania primary, Sanders won 83% of voters under 30.

However, this wasn’t the only poll that was misrepresented. Recently, MSNBC inaccurately reported on a Monmouth poll in a graphic showing support for leading Democratic candidates among non-white voters. In the poll conducted between April 11 and April 15, Sanders had a narrow edge over Biden, with 27% of respondents saying they would vote for the Vermont senator, compared to just 25% of non-white voters saying they would vote for the former vice president.

However, as Twitter user @spittingback discovered, an MSNBC graphic describing that very same Monmouth poll showed Biden leading Sanders among non-white voters by a margin of 28% to 27%.

As Grit Post has previously written, polls conducted this early are often not good predictors of how the election will turn out. However, it’s important to take note of when poll numbers are misrepresented. Especially when a leading candidate like Sanders is excluded from key questions, or when people under 50 aren’t adequately represented — particularly if those voters are expected to be one of, if not the largest voting blocs in 2020.


Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.


  1. Love the disclaimer! COMCAST bundles more than just plutocratic socializing for “centrist” JOE – the Good Humor, ‘good heart’, good hugger-in-chief of Establishment-supporting (but ‘evolvable’ positioning). Anybody taking bets on where he stands with Net Neutrality TODAY?

  2. OK. I figured out what’s going on. The Democratic party WANTS Donald Trump to serve a second term. Because this bullshit didn’t work with Hillary and it’s not going to work with Creepy Joe.
    Bernie Sanders is the favorite candidate. If Democrats want Trump out of the white house they had better get on board with that notion. Or you WILL regret it. We aren’t playing around and we proved that last election.
    Independent voters

  3. Comcast owns MSNBC. Of course they want to cheat Bernie. Comcast gave Biden $700,000 for his campaign. Watch Jimmy Dore on Youtube for 29 year old Biden in 1972 begging for corporate money. Audience just laughs. Joe Biden is to the right of Trump like Pelosi & Schumer. Biden won’t win against trump

  4. Biden is Hillary 2.0 and if elected in the primary will achieve the same result! I am still for Bernie! If he becomes president it will not be a Bernie Sanders presidency, it will be a presidency for the people! A vote for Bernie is a vote for all of us! Why choose a pseudo progressive when you can vote for a real one?

  5. They:

    1. Move the 28% from one column to another column to give Biden the lead.
    2. Already stacked the decks by excluding Bernie Sanders’ core demographic from the polling process.

    Signs of things to come?

  6. It seems that the support that Bernie did receive in this CNN/SSR poll came entirely from people over the age of 50 since there weren’t at least 125 people in younger age groups to be statistically representative. Since the ‘what about Bernie’ question wasn’t included in the poll (for any age group) it is not explained how he got any support at all in the poll. There must have been some other question that age 50 + respondents replied to which is not described in the GritPost piece here. Since there weren’t enough younger people included in the poll, their answer to this mystery question isn’t reflected in the poll’s conclusion. It would be interesting to know what this mystery question (or questions) is! Still, it seems the main flaw of the poll is that it didn’t include enough people under 50, for whatever reason.

  7. The DNC, the Clinton creepy remnants, and creepy Joe are so dead and old news that they are no longer even a viable enemy for Bernie Sanders!

  8. Don’t believe this hype. Joe is not even close to Bernie. Just like they kept telling you Donnytinyhands had no chance over Killary. They make these things up.

  9. Why do they always show a nice picture of Biden and an angry picture of Bernie ? An obvious subtle way to make Bernie look bad. Biden is as bad as Hillary.

  10. Who care about this fake polls. Just watched the Bernie’s rallies which full of thousands of his supporters. Who care about Biden whose rally barely has 100 people.

  11. “There is no evidence that suggests these were coordinated misinterpretations on the part of either network. ”

    Yes – it is pure coincidence that the media outlets have accidentally 17 times in a row made mistakes that portrayed Biden over generously, and diminished Sanders.

  12. Love the legal disclaimer but we all know it was a coordinated campaign in the media to attack and undermine Bernie Sanders, and we all know the 2016 Primary was rigged by the DNC when they gave Hillary states that Bernie won every county in and the media was Pro-Hillary Anti-Bernie and talking about Trump nonstop like they were running a reality TV show about him.

    Our corporate media are disinformation networks that exist primarily to rake in corporate money while brainwashing the public with pro-establishment, pro-war, xenophobic and nationalist propaganda.

    They’re enemies of the people, lying to the people, none of them have any journalistic integrity and none of them value the truth.

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