No, Seriously, That New York Times Poll Is Good News For Joe Biden
It’s yet another day with another alarming presidential poll. According to a New York Times/Siena poll, Donald Trump is ahead of Joe Biden in five key battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, more than enough to comfortably win the presidency without a single coup attempt. It’s almost boring, aside from all the terror.
Across the six battlegrounds — all of which Mr. Biden carried in 2020 — the president trails by an average of 48 to 44 percent.
Discontent pulsates throughout the Times/Siena poll, with a majority of voters saying Mr. Biden’s policies have personally hurt them. The survey also reveals the extent to which the multiracial and multigenerational coalition that elected Mr. Biden is fraying. Demographic groups that backed Mr. Biden by landslide margins in 2020 are now far more closely contested, as two-thirds of the electorate sees the country moving in the wrong direction.
Biden’s polling cratered after the Afghanistan withdrawal, which was coincidentally around the time that loyal Democrats abandoned all faith in the polling sciences. Many Democrats will insist that polls are flawed, no one answers the phone anymore, and everyone who isn’t voting for Biden is bigoted fool anyway so screw them. I know this is controversial, but I don’t think this is the best response.
Nonetheless, here’s how Democratic political activist Charlotte Clymer responded to the latest bad poll:
“There is no doubt in my mind that President Biden and VP Harris will be re-elected next year,” she said. “There is also no doubt in my mind that certain pundits and reporters desperately need that conclusion to be in doubt so that they’ll have an engine for their public notoriety.”
Sorry, but this sounds like right-wing climate denial or vaccine skepticism: She’s not just rejecting data she doesn’t like, but she’s ascribing deliberate, malicious intent to those who produce the “bad” data. Clymer suggests that Biden’s re-election is self-evident and the media has manufactured a horse race to sell papers or increase ratings. That’s pretty damn cynical, and it’s eerily reminiscent of 2016 when you were dubbed a crazy Cassandra if you believed Trump might pull off an upset.
Political media said 2018 would be bad for Democrats. We won.
Pundits were cautious about a 2018 Blue Wave, primarily because of gerrymandered districts. However, political analysts such as Dave Wasserman warned that 2018 could produce a split decision in the House and Senate, which was true: Republicans gained two seats in the Senate. Also, liberal hopes for Texas, Florida, and Georgia didn’t materialize.
They said 2020 would be bad for Democrats. We won.
No, the polls were bleak for Trump most of 2020, and he predictably whined for that all the polls showing a Biden landslide were intended to suppress the MAGA vote. Ultimately, Trump overperformed his polling and came within 43,000 votes across three states from legitimately winning re-election. Democrats suffered unexpected down ballot losses.
They said 2022 would be a Red Wave. Biden proceeded to have the best midterm performance of any Democratic president in six decades. Notice a pattern here?
Biden did not personally have a successful midterm performance. He was not on the ballot. You’ll recall that Democrats’ 2010 shellacking didn’t result in Barack Obama’s defeat in 2012. It is encouraging that Democrats came out to the polls after the horrible Dobbs decision, but that wasn’t a passive victory. Democrats effectively leveraged voters’ discontent. (And where ever Democrats ignored issues that concerned voters — e.g. New York — they lost big.)
“Putting so much stock into a single poll, a year out from the general, is what I would expect someone to do if they had little-to-no experience in political campaigns,” Clymer insisted. “Factually, polls have been wrong many times before. You are welcome for this common sense.”
It’s not just a single poll. Biden has been consistently underwater for almost two years. There’s no evidence that polling methodology has changed dramatically from 2020 when he was up in almost every one. Same goes for the first few months of his presidency when his approval ratings were above freezing.
However, bad polls are arguably good news for the president’s re-election chances. Biden isn’t Barack Obama or even Bill Clinton. He was never the face of a movement. What motivated Democrats most in 2020 was stopping Trump, and Biden was seen as the best candidate to defeat him. In 2019, Biden supporters believed in polls. They should do so again, because fear is what will beat Trump again. I know we’d prefer if love or laughter was more powerful, but this isn’t a Pixar film.
The Washington Post recently confirmed the obvious — a second Trump term would be a roaring rampage of revenge. He will prosecute and outright persecute his political enemies and will sic the military on anyone who protests. Then comes the outright First Order-style fascism.
Donald Trump and allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term … and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day ..
Democrats should sound every alarm, not simply dismiss “we’re all fucked” polls as mere “parlor games.” It’s as if Superman’s Dad Jor-El is a pollster, and the Kryptonian Science Council are skeptical Democrats who think he’s just trying to make a name for himself.
I agree with Podcast America co-host Dan Pfeiffer, who advised not freaking out or burying our head in the sand, but instead working our asses off reassembling the anti-MAGA majority. We only lose if we fail to act.
Pfeiffer observes that voters who can’t stand either party’s nominee — “double haters” — are key. They backed Trump over Hillary Clinton by 17 points in 2016, but Biden carried them by seven points in 2020. Trump currently leads this group by three points. They are persuadable voters and a somewhat fluid group.
Looking at the polling data, it would seem that a two-prong attack is necessary: Scaring the hell out of of young, left-leaning voters and, yes, minority voters about Trump while also making it clear to right-leaning, non-MAGA cultists how Biden has actually delivered for them. According to Pfeiffer, “the research shows voters are more likely to be persuaded by people they know. Let’s work to educate people about everything Biden has done to grow the economy, create jobs, and lower costs.”
The polls show that when people specifically learn about Biden’s accomplishments, they like him better. Even more encouraging is that young, non-white voters prefer Harris over Trump, so it’s not difficult for Biden/Harris as a team to win them back over the next year. (Hey, maybe sending Harris to college campuses will help.)
If you think all polls are bullshit, that’s fine, but there’s nothing wrong with taking Pfeiffer’s advice. Convince those persuadable voters and get out the vote for those who are even slightly tempted to skip this election. This is what we should do even if every poll showed Biden up by 20.
PREVIOUSLY WHEN WE BELIEVED IN POLLS
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