A Few Polls to Ponder

Some numbers from PA and a CNN poll that gives Biden a huge lead.

As we would expect, there are numerous new polls out there to go along with updates to the various predictive models. I wanted to highlight and comment upon a few that caught my attention today.

First, the new Monmouth Poll, which has two key data points to note. The overall message is that they have Biden doing quite well in Pennsylvania:

Among all registered voters in Pennsylvania, the race for president stands at 54% for Biden and 42% for Trump. 

That is up from a four-point lead a month ago. Yes, it is a registered voter and not a likely voter screen. However, the gap is noteworthy, as is the fact that Biden has a position that exceeds 50%, placing him in a position where he would both have to lose support and have Trump gain substantially to change the dynamic of the race. While this 12-point gap is on the high side, it is not substantially out of range of other recent polls in the state.

A second data point is that Biden continues to experience a substantial lead in the state as it pertains to trust and the pandemic:

There was also very little movement in key issues metrics – including the pandemic. Overall, 52% of Pennsylvania voters trust Biden more to handle the coronavirus pandemic and just 32% give the edge to Trump on this issue. Before the president’s diagnosis was made public, 52% trusted Biden more and 34% trusted Trump. After the news broke, it was 52% for Biden and 29% for Trump.

A second poll to note is one that has received a lot of attention, CNN’s national poll showing Biden with a commanding lead:

Among likely voters, 57% say they back Biden and 41% Trump in the poll that was conducted entirely after the first debate and mostly after the President’s coronavirus infection was made public.

My reaction to this one is: let’s wait and see, as a 16-point gap is pretty dramatic (although several polls do show a double-digit lead), as is Biden at 57%. Still, as the maxim goes, people start paying attention en masse after Labor Day and they have been treated (in the last week!) to Trump being a bully in the debates and then clearly acting irresponsibly in regards to the coronavirus, so the idea that this poll might be capturing real shifts in public opinion is not outside the realm of the possible. Again, let’s wait and see what other polls show.

My honest initial reaction to Trump’s behavior while infected has been an even more intense doubling-down on pandering to the base. This strikes me as a lost opportunity for him to try and reach out to non-MAGA types. Granted, that is far more “hot take” than it is political science, as I have no data or even much of a theory to support the contention. (I just don’t see how he is helping himself on arguably the biggest issue in the race).

See, also, via the NYT: The 10 Bellwether Counties That Show How Trump Is in Serious Trouble.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Kylopod says:

    There’s no question at this point that Biden has experienced a bump since the debate. I’ll be watching closely to see what effect, if any, the Covid diagnosis has, and of course a lot depends on his recovery when and if it happens.

    As I said in the other thread, I think keeping Covid in the news is not a good bet for his campaign. He doesn’t seem to realize that, and he thinks he can use his supposed recovery to make people think the entire crisis is no big deal. He’d be in a better position if the focus of public attention shifted to just about anything but Covid, and he previously seemed to understand that, but he’s gotten caught in his own feedback loop. I know some Dems complain about how his taxes have fled from the news (it’s part of the basis for the theory that he faked his illness), and while I share some of that frustration, if I had to choose just one of those two issues to be at the forefront in the final weeks of the campaign, believe me, I would not choose taxes.

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  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    A quick look at 538 shows Biden ahead in Wis, MI, PA, OH, FLA, AZ, MN NH & NC. OH & NC are w/in the margin of error. The others Joe is at least 4-10 points ahead. Trump is up by 2 in IA. Those are of course 538’s running arrogate of polls.

    I believe the fat lady is clearing her throat and the fork has made an appearance in the wings.

    3
  3. Hal_10000 says:

    I will not have any confidence until Biden wins on election night (or a few days after) and Trump concedes. What is interesting is seeing Trump’s falling support among seniors, who have been his bulwark. If that happens on election night, he’s in big trouble. If not, then the pre-election polls are garbage.

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  4. @Kylopod:

    I think keeping Covid in the news is not a good bet for his campaign.

    I 100% concur. Covid polls as one of the most important, if not the most important issue in this election. As long as Covid and Trump’s handling of it is the number one story, it hurts him far more than taxes or any number of other stories.

    4
  5. Dude Kembro says:

    I said this here last week in response to BoThSiDeS handwriting on these pages:

    The debate commentary here indicates how out-of-touch white male conventional opinion is with most of America…Biden won the debate, easily. Polls will soon reflect that BoThSiDeSism underestimating him is wrong. Again.

    And here we are.

    This is not 2016. Unlike Hillary, Biden gets to run against four years of what Hillary warned about come true. The last week reminded everyone why we are all feeling Trump exhaustion.

    4
  6. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000:

    What is interesting is seeing Trump’s falling support among seniors, who have been his bulwark.

    Turns out treating people as expendable nobodies makes them support you less. Who knew?

    3
  7. Teve says:

    @Kylopod:

    There’s no question at this point that Biden has experienced a bump since the debate. I’ll be watching closely to see what effect, if any, the Covid diagnosis has, and of course a lot depends on his recovery when and if it happens.

    As I said in the other thread, I think keeping Covid in the news is not a good bet for his campaign.

    ?

    1
  8. charon says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    As I mentioned in the forum thread, the message from Pence, Trump and others is that mask wearing is for sissies.

    I can not imagine the universe where that message persuades gettable voters that Trump-Pence are the right team to deal with COVID-19.

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  9. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: What’s your question?

  10. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:
    I suspect he didn’t initially realize that the “he” you are referring to is Trump (who you didn’t directly name in your comment) rather than Biden (who you did name).

    3
  11. Kathy says:

    My reaction to this one is: let’s wait and see, as a 16-point gap is pretty dramatic

    I agree. When something seems to good to be true, it usually is.

    On the other hand, mass deception movements like Trump’s tend to collapse quickly and, often, spectacularly. think the Soviet Union, and much of the Eastern Block before it.*

    There are differences, as for instance Trumps is not really oppressing those who voted for him (yet). But he has hurt many of them and disappointed many more. And the pandemic won’t help him. People can see that the high rates of infection and death are higher than they should be, had Trump really exercised even minimal leadership (or merely shut his f***g hole).

    *Hard to believe it’s been 30 years since German Reunification, sin’t it? The Berlin Wall has been down longer now than it was ever up.

    4
  12. Teve says:

    I eventually figured it out. But it was confusing. Biden has covid, a lot depends on his recovery, and it being in the news won’t be good for him.

  13. @Dude Kembro:

    BoThSiDeS handwriting on these pages

    Out of curiosity, what are you referencing here?

  14. @Kathy:

    I agree. When something seems to good to be true, it usually is.

    Indeed, although apparently, the NBC/WSJ poll had Biden at +14 which is another data point of interest. I haven’t had time to go beyond headline reading on that one.

    1
  15. Kingdaddy says:

    My honest initial reaction to Trump’s behavior while infected has been an even more intense doubling-down on pandering to the base. This strikes me as a lost opportunity for him to try and reach out to non-MAGA types.

    I don’t think there was a strategy there at all, in the sense of trying to influence outcomes in the external world. Instead, I think the audience for all of this was purely internal, Trump’s own insecurity. The Mussolini-esque balcony photo op, with him posing in different ways (coat buttoned, coat unbottoned, standing tall, thumbs up, saluting) changed no one’s mind about him, or COVID-19. It was purely a moment to satisfy his internal need to project “strength.” It was truly deranged, in the sense that the deranged person is listening to internal voices, and not paying attention to anyone in the outside world.

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  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted by a Dem and an R polling firm, the R pollster pointed out that this survey set skewed slightly more Dem than earlier surveys that were conducted for NBC/WSJ so the apparent 4 point movement toward Biden should be discounted a couple of percentage points and he in reality has only picked up 1-2% over earlier surveys.

    1
  17. JohnMcC says:

    @Kingdaddy“The Mussolini-esque balcony photo-op….” FWIW, this is the third reference I’ve heard/read to the iconic Mussolini wearing a helmet with a fierce scowl picture in connection with our President’s posing on the Truman Balcony. It was what I instantly thought of watching the live TV.

    Surely two completely unrelated events. No resemblance. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    1
  18. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    My reaction to this one is: let’s wait and see, as a 16-point gap is pretty dramatic

    I agree. When something seems to good to be true, it usually is.

    This isn’t necessarily a matter of wishful thinking. There’s precedent for an election where at first it seems relatively competitive and then one candidate very rapidly runs away with it. It happened in 1980. It happened in 2008. It happens quite often in downballot races.

    My skepticism about polls like this has more to do with my sense that the country is too polarized to see a beating on par with, say, 1932 (the most recent time an incumbent was turned out by double digits, though Carter came close–9.7 points). I mean, the country is in the exact sort of situation that should be expected to end in a 1932/1980-style drubbing. But apart from Jim Crow in the ’30s which was baked in, they didn’t have to deal with the voter-suppression efforts that are taking place right now. Even if we take out our brains and ignore that, the whole issue of vote-by-mail, and the effect of the pandemic on regular campaigning, is all a massive wild card.

    I also continue to be baffled by Trump’s steady ~40% floor of approval. Hoover and Carter still won about 40% of the vote, but Carter’s approval was much lower (there were no approval polls in Hoover’s day). Then there’s the incredible pro-R skew of the electoral college–and make no mistake, the skew is still there (seen from the fact that Biden consistently has a narrower lead in the states he needs than he does nationally).

    At the same time, Biden doesn’t need a 17-point popular-vote lead to kill it in the EC. If he wins every state where he’s currently leading in 538’s averages, he’d get about a 2008-level margin. If you add TX, where he’s trailing by 1.9 points, he breaks 400. That’s how well he’s actually doing in the averages now, where his PV lead isn’t 17–it’s 8.7. If he really does win the PV by 17 points, we really could be looking at the sort of electoral blowout we haven’t seen in decades. But all my instincts suggest it isn’t possible.

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  19. JohnSF says:

    I’ve been looking at 270 to Win with increasing regularity, especially its sequences of state polls.
    Assuming 5% lead as beyond the usual margin of error, it indicates that as of now Democrats are on course 277 electoral votes.
    And are strongly competitive (i.e. lead below 5% or Republican lead but under 5%) in a further 9 states/districts worth 144 electoral votes.

    It’s still relatively tight, but I know I’d be much happier running Biden’s campaign than Trump’s.
    Especially given the disorganisation and other problems in the Trump campaign, and the fact that there seems to be no likely good new arriving for Trump re. CV, the economy, or anything else in the remaining 27 days.

    Collapsing the economic package talks with Congressional Dems. looks like another looming exercise in foot-shooting.

    In fact looks like the more interesting competition to watch now is the Senate, which the 270 polls show as on a knife edge.

    2
  20. JohnSF says:

    Incidentally, can anyone tell me why Indiana is such an outlier in the Mid West?

    I remember years ago reading that just before the Civil War southern Indiana was called “Butternet Country” and marked by settlement out of the South,

    Is that still the case even now?

  21. charon says:

    @JohnSF:

    Incidentally, can anyone tell me why Indiana is such an outlier in the Mid West?

    There some pretty neo-Confederate area in Ohio and Illinois also. (Downstate Illinois, especially around Cairo, southeast Ohio around Cincinnati ). I think the difference is not enough high population blue cities.

    2
  22. Kylopod says:

    @charon: Anyone remember the brouhaha a couple years ago after Blackkklansman came out and people disputed Adam Driver’s claim to have seen Klan rallies while growing up in Indiana, then it turned out to be accurate?

    https://apnews.com/article/b7aa43db646c47c48558c818fd9de3e1

    1
  23. Kylopod says:

    @charon:

    I think the difference is not enough high population blue cities.

    The way Obama won the state in 2008 was that he basically just ran up the totals in the Chicago area. I’m sure it depended on other things (lackluster turnout in the conservative areas, maybe a few crossover votes here and there), but that was the crux of what made it possible.

    1
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have a hunch Trump just figured out he’s going to lose the election. That’s why he’s cancelled stimulus talks. We’re nearing the burn it all down stage.

    6
  25. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    There’s precedent for an election where at first it seems relatively competitive and then one candidate very rapidly runs away with it.

    Yes, but it’s rather unusual. I can buy a trumpian collapse, at least outside his cult. But then we’d expect his 40% floor, as you point out, to fall from under him.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That stage is survivable. What worries me is the salt-the-earth stage Trump is sure to engage in after he loses the election.

    Maybe he’ll find sudden disobedience on his party, not to mention in career government employees. But remember the praetorian guard who rightfully killed Caligula, was later executed by his successor, Claudius, lest his guards get any ideas later on.

    1
  26. wr says:

    @Kathy: “Hard to believe it’s been 30 years since German Reunification, sin’t it?”

    And what did the west get out of it? A bunch of whiny fucking Nazis — literal Nazis — who want to return fascist rule to the country.

    West Germany should never have told them the Soviet Union collapsed.

  27. Barry says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted by a Dem and an R polling firm, the R pollster pointed out that this survey set skewed slightly more Dem than earlier surveys that were conducted for NBC/WSJ so the apparent 4 point movement toward Biden should be discounted a couple of percentage points and he in reality has only picked up 1-2% over earlier surveys.”

    From 2012 polls, it was mentioned that party identification is expected to change.

  28. JohnSF says:

    I’m still wondering at what point in the process the Republican “elite” turn on Team Trump.
    After the votes are in or wait for inauguration?

    I’m not thinking of some hypothetical and likely imaginary “moderates” here.
    I’m thinking of power-brokers like McConnell, “instrumentalists” like Koch or Maxwell, “smart” right wingers like Cotton.

    If I were in the shoes of the Republican establishment I’d be plotting NOW how best to get all the Trump clan indicted as soon as possible.

    Because whatever their views on Trumpian populism as an ideology or as a tactic, unless they break the grip of “Camp Trump” on the Party after a defeat, including torpedoing a “Trump Media” play, they’re looking down the barrel of candidate Ivanka, or Don Jr, in 2024 and maybe 2028 as well.
    For some, another likely loss is the nightmare; for others, it’s that THEY want that candidacy.

  29. Tyrell says:

    Biden’s health plan is to improve the Affordable Health Care plan and offer more options for everyone. I have Medicare, then I have the choice of five or more company’s supplement plans: United, Cigna, Aetna, Humana, and a few others. Some have no premium, $10 doctor cost, $20 specialist. Each company offers different plans. Most have free gym memberships, so I can join most any gym around here.
    So I’m down with Biden’s health plan. That is what I have been favoring: choices.

    2
  30. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnSF: Short answer re Indiana. Yes. It’s always been something of an outlier in that tier of states. Had more Klan members than any other state back in the ’20s, for example. Because immigration patters in the pre-civil war era. Not the same pattern of settlement by Scandinavians and traditional Yankees.

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: It’s good to see that you’ve finally figured out that “I’d get out of Medicare if only I could” was never the answer to the question. I’m also glad that the package of Medicare benefits that my supplement package has always included has finally come to your state. 😀

    4
  32. Barry says:

    @JohnSF: “I’m still wondering at what point in the process the Republican “elite” turn on Team Trump.
    After the votes are in or wait for inauguration?”

    I think that by now they are bound to Trump until the end of his ride. He has massive support among the GOP Base.

    McConnell is probably trying to salvage a race or two which is salvageable, and angling to keep in charge as Minority Leader.

  33. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @JohnSF: Indiana is paradoxical. I lived for three years just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky. On both sides of the river, it’s definitely “border state.” You don’t actually reach “midwestern” territory until at least Indianapolis.

  34. Dude Kembro says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The notion that both Biden and Trump lost the debate, and that neither would benefit from it.

    My counterpoint was actually Biden won the debate by sounding calmn and human, mirroring America’s exhaustion with Trump’s unhinged and psychotic behavior, and making sound policy points on climate, COVID, healthcare, policing. And that polling and public opinion would reflect Biden’s debate win.

  35. Kylopod says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    My counterpoint was actually Biden won the debate by sounding calmn and human, mirroring America’s exhaustion with Trump’s unhinged and psychotic behavior, and making sound policy points on climate, COVID, healthcare, policing. And that polling and public opinion would reflect Biden’s debate win.

    My personal reaction to the debate (and I should note that I have a long history of having a different personal reaction to presidential debates than how they’re commonly received) was pretty much the above–with one caveat. I felt that Biden’s performance would have looked lackluster next to a more standard, pre-Trump Republican. He just came off so human, so genuine (his outraged reaction when Trump tried to throw shade at his son was a powerful moment) and so capable of discussing issues competently and coherently. That’s a low bar, but it’s one Trump provided. Now you may disagree with me here, and think that Biden did better than I’m giving credit–that it was a good performance in an absolute sense, not just in relative comparison to Trump. But it’s what I came away with, and in that sense I was a bit surprised by how significantly the polls shifted in Biden’s favor in the coming days; I was expecting them to stay more or less the same.