Bad Polling for Biden

Of course, if it is true that the GOP is not as unified as they might prefer, it is also true that Biden is facing his own challenges.

Via CBS News: CBS News poll finds voters remember Trump’s economy as good, boosting Trump to national lead over Biden today.

And via the NYT: Majority of Biden’s 2020 Voters Now Say He’s Too Old to Be Effective.

I must admit, I can’t help but think that 77 v. 81 is kind of like $2.97 v. $3.01 for a gallon of gas–people just feel better having that “2” in front of the price.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, 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


  1. DK says:

    Scary! The world better hope Trump under-performing his primary polls and Biden over performing his will hold true, because of not and Trump bests Biden by 4-5 points nationally in November — whoo boy. Americans and the planet are in for some serious hurt.

  2. Kylopod says:

    The common public narrative around the economy has not been favorable to Biden.

    Think back to Obama’s presidency. Even though Obama suffered from a perception that the recovery was too sluggish, despite the GOP’s best efforts the public never forgot that the Great Recession began under Bush, and ended under Obama. It was a simple story, easy to digest, and it helped him immensely when he was running for reelection.

    By contrast, the story around the economy under Trump and Biden is hopelessly muddled, particularly with respect to how it relates to the Covid pandemic. During 2020 polls indicated that, while Americans largely blamed Trump for mishandling the pandemic, they continued to give him positive marks on the economy. There was a sense that Covid was something of a black swan event that Trump may have responded to poorly, but wasn’t responsible for the effects it had on the economy.

    And in the years since, there seems to be a lack of acknowledgment among the broader public in how the ensuing inflation crisis was to a large degree a consequence of the world emerging from the pandemic. I partially blame the media for this, but frankly I think the Dems have done a less than stellar job of pointing it out often enough. Even though Biden should be getting credit for steering the country out of a public-health crisis that struck on Trump’s watch, instead the perception is that Covid came and went (itself not entirely accurate insofar as Covid is still with us and causing many deaths), and any negative things which have happened since Biden took office is his fault alone.

    A similar dynamic applies to foreign policy. By 2012 Obama had begun US withdrawal from Iraq and killed Osama Bin Laden. Again, it was a simple story–Obama came in and cleaned up Bush’s messes. In contrast, under Biden we’ve seen several foreign-policy crises spring up–the arguably necessary but not-exactly-clean withdrawal from Afghanistan and its ensuing fall to the Taliban; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; and Hamas’s attack on Israel followed by Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Even though all these things had their roots under decisions Trump made as president, that’s not the common public narrative. Most Americans just remember relative peace under Trump, followed by things going downhill under Biden. It isn’t accurate, but in politics perception is everything.

    What Dems ought to do at this point to counter these narratives is anyone’s guess, but a start is recognizing why the narratives exist.

  3. Gustopher says:

    I must admit, I can’t help but think that 77 v. 81 is kind of like $2.97 v. $3.01 for a gallon of gas–people just feel better having that “2” in front of the price.

    I’m willing to bet that if you did push polling that started with telling people that Biden is 77, the results wouldn’t change. The media has been pushing the “too old” narrative, and is now using polling to demonstrate that it is sinking in, and using that to push the narrative some more.

  4. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher: In 2016, following all those stories about Hillary’s supposed bad health (mostly fabricated, but aided when she fainted on the campaign trail), I had the sense some people thought she was older than Trump.

    Of course the effects of age aren’t the same for everyone. For instance, I suspect that no matter what people thought of Dr. Fauci just before his retirement, most never guessed he was in his 80s. He gives the feel of someone much younger.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    If the public rewards the Republicans with a second Trump term, the Dems just have to give the public what they want and start using the economy as a hostage to get policy concessions.

    E.g., when the debt ceiling needs to be increased shortly after the start of Trump’s term, no dem votes without tax increases.

  6. Grumpy realist says:

    Well, Ben Franklin did say: “a republic, if you can keep it.”

    The U.S. is not mandated to be at the top of the heap, and will definitely start sliding into second-nation status if we’re not careful.

  7. BenW says:

    @Kylopod: But isn’t the whole point of being President responding to crises effectively? There were literal plans drawn on what Trump could do in such a pandemic emergency and he literally did none of them while rejecting all medical expertise. The public is basically saying Trump is such a powerful leader but, when faced with a once in a lifetime crisis, what could he do? Not his fault. Is it just that hard to recognize the hypocrisy of that ideology?

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    The correct answer is E) They’re both old.

    Biden’s position should be, ‘Yeah, we’re both old. The choice is between old and sane on the one hand, and old and a malignant, treasonous cretin on the other.’ You have to own your vulnerabilities. I’m a high school drop-out. I flaunt that fact.

  9. Mikey says:

    As with all polling 10 months out, take it with a sizable chunk of salt.

    Once Trump starts getting on TV for everyone to see, not just his rally attendees and those of us who watch this stuff closely 10 months out, his cognitive issues will become apparent. Yesterday he again stated Obama is President (and don’t believe for a minute his bullshit about doing that on purpose), and the phrase “Biden border bill” was evidently too much of a tongue-twister so what came out was some unintelligible gibberish.

    To quote Scott Lemieux at LGM:

    To state the obvious, if Biden had given this speech it would be an A1 story about how this cast many questions and raised many shadows about his age for a solid week. But Trump will eternally benefit from the baseline assumption that he can’t be expected to be coherent.

  10. Kylopod says:


    There were literal plans drawn on what Trump could do in such a pandemic emergency and he literally did none of them while rejecting all medical expertise.

    I happen to think this element has not gotten the attention it deserves.

    The public is basically saying Trump is such a powerful leader but, when faced with a once in a lifetime crisis, what could he do?

    No, I don’t think that’s what the public is saying. In 2020 the public’s view of his handling of the pandemic was overwhelmingly negative, and it may have cost him the election. It’s just that they seem to have isolated it from the effects it had on the economy–both short-term and long-term–and clung to a narrative that Trump’s overall handling of the economy was at least acceptable.

  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You DO get that each side is going to pick its candidate for “old and sane” and the other candidate for “malignant cretin,” right?

    Mind you, I do wish that your high school dropout moral formula would persuade the other side.

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I don’t think the other side is the target. We need our voters, plus a large slice of uncommitted, and a tiny slice of GOP voters to stay home. The cult will be the cult, and targeting them is like trying to recruit Scientologists.

  13. Bob@Youngstown says:

    I ask my acquaintances to consider ranking the two candidates by:

    IMO, you could be 40 yo and lack those qualities, Youth itself does not determine an effective world leader.

  14. EddieinCA says:

    As most of you know, I’m bullish in Biden-Harris for 2024. But if they’re going to win as easily as EddieinCA thinks, how can the polling be so off?

    It’s not. But I think the pollsters, ALL OF THEM, are missing the voters that are GOP but anti-Trump. I believe there is a large GOP minority that are NEVER-Trump. Haley is getting most of them, but some of them are NEVER-GOP at this point, as well. Those actually calling themselves “Republican” is down significantly since 2016. So yes, Trump is getting a huge share of Republicans, but that share of overall voters is shrinking.

    I believe these two things are true:

    1. Trump is leading Biden in the polls, as of now.
    2. Biden is going to win easily, despite the polls.

    I believe Trump has done nothing to increase his vote totals from 2020. I believe very few Biden voters will switch to Trump by the time November rolls around. Biden’s horrible numbers are mostly due to rogue democrats not supporting him(Stormy is a perfect example), who would rather sit it out, or vote third party, than vote for Biden over Israel, over immigration, over gas prices, etc. However, people like Stormy are outliers – very principled outliers, but outliers nonetheless. Most democrats will come back to the fold? Why? Because if you’re a Muslim in Dearborn are you really going to do something that helps Trump win, therefore guaranteeing your Muslim friends in the US being in much worse shape than under Biden? If you care about immigration, are you going to vote for the party that openly speaks of executing migrants, and making it legal to murder illegal crossers at the border? Really? If so, you deserve what happens afterwards.

    We have binary choices. Eventually, people get that. And we have two four year track records which we can compare. One had infrastructure week monthly, and one got an Infrastructure Billl passed his first year in office. One blew up the deficit.. The other did not.

    When it comes down to it, one is old and is doing a great job. The other is old and batshit crazy. Enough voters will see that in those 7 swing states.

  15. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Biden’s position should be, ‘Yeah, we’re both old. The choice is between old and sane on the one hand, and old and a malignant, treasonous cretin on the other.’”

    Which is exactly what he was saying to Seth Myers…

  16. Stormy Dragon says:


    What makes you think I don’t support Biden? If it were up to me, I’d prefer someone further left, but I’m not stupid. My anger is at the American public, because Biden should be looking at a 1984 style landslide and the fact it’s razor thin is an indictment of the people in this country.

    But I would crawl across broken glass to vote for Biden in November.

  17. JKB says:

    Inflation may be down from last year, but inflation is like an evil compound interest that is cumulative against the consumer. Sure it might be down but the new “lower” number is against the higher prices from the earlier inflation.

    While age is a number, but mental decline at age isn’t fixed by years. My aunt didn’t show cognitive decline until about 92, passing at 94. And we know from his last term, Trump doesn’t seem to be worn down like most presidents, but rather appeared to thrive on the stress.

  18. EddieInCA says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    My sincere and profuse apology. I should have been more careful. It was Gustopher, who said last week that they would sit out November, and not vote for Biden.

    Again, my apologies.

  19. EddieInCA says:


    You’re just wrong. In the past few weeks, Trump has mistaken Obama for Biden. Multiple times.

    Trump’s Verbal Gaffes in two minutes. Watch this for two minutes and imagine what would happen if Biden said ONE of these things. Heck, Newmax, NEWSMAX, read a disclaimer after Trump’s speech, saying “The election was not rigged.”

  20. Barry says:

    When I say that the system is OK with the insurrection and is in the tank for Trump, this is what I mean. The age thing comes from the NYT pushing it hard as their main narrative, after their previous two-year narrative of Economic! disaster! failed. They’ve been caught laundering Trump’s speeches to make him appear non-demented and non-evil.

  21. D Wieb says:

    What we don’t see is just as, or even more, important than what we do. The focus on Biden’s age is what we do see. Any substantive issue with Biden’s actual job is what we don’t see. We don’t see US troops involved in a war or occupation any more. The biggest deal right now is about Palestinians, and Biden is objectively doing a good job with a long established impossible situation. Contrary to protestors’ complaints, he is listening to them. I heard a good quote on BBC radio: “politicians have hands, not magic wands.”

    The age issue reeks of GOP/Trump propaganda. They got nothing else, but not for lack of trying. As for Donald, he will stick with rallies. There is no way he will properly expose himself to media scrutiny.