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Why Elizabeth Warren Got Dropped From A Poll Question About General Election Matchups

Peter Hart, whose firm conducted the poll, told BuzzFeed News that the poll had “space and time” for just five candidate matchups.

Posted on February 19, 2020, at 12:07 a.m. ET

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren was left out of a national poll question Tuesday that pitted Democratic candidates against Donald Trump, angering supporters who have protested that the media has erased her candidacy in the wake of her showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The poll, from NBC and the Wall Street Journal, found Warren was effectively tied for second place nationally, with 14% of the vote.

But pollsters excluded her from a series of matchups between Trump and top candidates. They included Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Mike Bloomberg, who all polled within a point of Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, who trailed significantly behind them.

Peter Hart, whose firm conducted the poll, told BuzzFeed News that the poll had “space and time” for just five candidate matchups.

“Amy Klobuchar was selected as the fifth candidate,” Hart said in an email. “We have tested Warren earlier, and I suspect she will be part of the next testing.”

To Warren backers, the poll was a flashpoint, the culmination of weeks of frustrations with media coverage of her candidacy that has focused more heavily on Klobuchar, who finished fifth in Iowa but surged to a surprising third place in New Hampshire.

I AM BEYOND OUTRAGED. This is truly interfering in the election in a way that has a definite impact. Total removal of the woman with the third most amount of delegates. Unforgivable. Sinful. Deliberate.

@mmurraypolitics Wow. Just looked at the full poll, and I’m stunned. Not only was Warren not included in the head-to-head matchup against Trump, I’m also seeing only two head-to-head questions for Dems: Bernie vs. Bloomberg and Bernie vs. Buttigieg. WHAT is going on with this?

NBC and the Wall Street Journal did not return requests for comment.

The media focus on Klobuchar is rooted in large part on the Minnesota senator’s recent surge in early states. While Warren has seen her support fall significantly from its height last summer, in recent months she has been mostly stagnant nationally, polling in the low double digits.

After the New Hampshire primary, where Warren finished behind Klobuchar but ahead of Joe Biden, some news outlets pulled reporters from traveling with her regularly, sending them to Klobuchar or other candidates.

Hart, the pollster, said the poll had tested Warren against Trump “fairly recently.” The decision to poll Klobuchar, he said, was rooted in part in her surge. The outlet had never polled Klobuchar against Trump before.

“We want to know where the [voters] ‘start’ and what groups are moving toward them as they gain momentum,” he said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.