'Overall, no, I don't buy that crowd size tells us much' : Nate Silver

FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver analyzes the importance of crowd sizes in the 2020 presidential race on "This Week."
2:57 | 09/01/19

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Transcript for 'Overall, no, I don't buy that crowd size tells us much' : Nate Silver
to get our dishes truly finished. It's not clean until it's Finished! The rest of it, we got to pull congress in. To make that happen you need crowds like this, people who are going to keep pushing from the outside. I keep thinking, you got a strong president pushing. You got people across this country who are motivated. That's how you hold congress accountable. That's how you make real change. Senator Elizabeth Warren has been drawing large crowds as she makes her case to democratic voters, an estimated 15,000 supporters there at a rally in Seattle last weekend. But how much does crowd size really matter? Is it a meaningful indicator of electability and a sign that she's underrated by the polls? We asked fivethirtyeight's Nate silver, do you buy that? The big problem for presidential elections, people are always fighting the last war. Donald Trump turned out very large and enthusiastic crowds in 2016. We had the biggest crowds you have ever seen. Trump beat the polls on election day. It might be natural to assume that big crowds are picking up on something that the polls are missing, but over the long run this indicator doesn't hold up. Both trump and Barack Obama drew big crowds on the trail. Plenty drew big crowds and then flopped. John Kerry in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2012 and of course Bernie Sanders drew huge crowds in 2016. He didn't win the democratic nomination. If I were running a campaign I would have rather 15,000-crowd size. Or 1500 or 15. They provide a lot of data. Why is that? The polls attempt to reach the entire voting population. People who show up at rallies are a self-selected group. Usually it's easier to draw big crowds if they're younger, concentrated in urban areas or on college campus or can take more time out of their day. The biggest crowds are relative small to the number of people who actually turn out to vote. Hello, Seattle! The 15,000 people that Warren drew in Seattle for example is a small fraction of the roughly 800 voted in the Washington democratic primary in 2016. Lot more people out there who vote than turn up to rallies. One more thing, you can find signs of voter enthusiasm in the polls, people of likely voters or pollsters ask people how much attention are you paying to the campaign. Elizabeth Warren tends to do better in those kind of polls. That's a good sign for her. Warren's crowds confirm in what we see in the data. But overall, no, I don't buy crowd size tells us who's going to win in the campaign. Our thanks to Nate. We hope a big crowd will tune in when ABC hosts the third democratic primary debate in less than two weeks. The top ten candidates on the same stage for the first time on Thursday, September 12th, right here on ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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