More Post-Debate Polling

More polling that contradicts the panic.

Via Bloomberg: Biden Narrows Gap With Trump in Swing States Despite Debate Loss.

President Joe Biden registered his best showing yet in a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult tracking poll of battleground states, even as voters offered withering appraisals of his debate performance amid panic within his party.

Republican Donald Trump led Democrat Biden by only 2 percentage points, 47% to 45%, in the critical states needed to win the November election. That’s the smallest gap since the poll began last October. Biden now leads Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin. He’s within the poll’s statistical margin of error in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina, and is farthest behind in the critical state of Pennsylvania.

Setting aside the real concerns about Biden, I again would note two things.

First, these numbers do not comport with the level of panic being displayed in the punditry and by some politicians. Indeed, the numbers continue to show that the fundamentals of the race have not really changed after the debate and the subsequent media firestorm

Second, numbers like this are going to make it very hard to convince Biden, or those who support and counsel him, to get out of the race.

This post is not an argument for, or against, Biden remaining in the race, but these are noteworthy numbers as we all assess this situation. But, again, for me at least, there are two parallel conversations here. One is whether a Democratic victory is more, or less, likely with Biden remaining in the race. The other is what it would take to convince Biden to exit or remain.

On the latter, I remain convinced that getting him to exit will be very, very difficult (and the behavior we have seen this week has directly comported with my expectations). And I continue to think that any neutral-to-good (or even only slightly bad) polling outcomes will bolster his self-perception that staying is the right choice.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, 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. TheRyGuy says:

    First, these numbers do not comport with the level of panic being displayed in the punditry and by some politicians.

    As much as I loathe the punditry and most politicians, I will give them this credit. I think their panic over Biden’s debate performance had less to do with losing to Trump and more to do with genuine concern over having a mentally and physically compromised President.

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  2. charontwo says:

    Here is something from a newsletter I get that is pretty much along those lines:

    The Loudest Pundits Don’t Talk to Voters

    I do…
    JESS PIPER
    JUL 6

    I don’t know a way to link to this, so will just quote the whole second half:

    I speak to actual people…the pundits feed off each other. I work with grassroots organizers to spread Democratic messaging…the pundits write clickbait headlines and stoke fear.

    The debate.

    First of all, I did not watch but a few minutes of the debate live. I chose to watch it in clips and videos afterward. I was horrified. I felt like I was watching a trainwreck in slow motion. Biden performed terribly and Trump lied continuously.

    Honestly, I wish Biden had never accepted the debate premise because it’s pointless to debate a liar. It just gives Trump the runway to lie even more, and without pushback from the moderators, the debate went nowhere.

    The voters and activists I listened to in Virginia weren’t wondering if Biden should step aside and none of them were kidding themselves about what they witnessed during the debate. They are solidly behind the Biden administration. Solidly.

    The summit in Virginia was diverse. Hundreds of women gathered and many were Black women. I like to hear the viewpoints of folks who are neither rural nor white — I am not in enough diverse rooms. I get a different POV and that’s important. What I heard was real and heartfelt. They are behind Biden.

    I listened as several Black women spoke about their admiration for Gavin Newsom and Gretchen Whitmer, but how pundits holding them up as replacements for Joe Biden is condescending and irritating. Joe Biden has a Vice President. A Black woman — Kamala Harris. The women wondered aloud if there would be such a push to replace Biden on the ballot if his VP were not Black.

    Same.

    They wondered why journalists and politicos demand that Biden step down, but not Trump. They wondered why so many articles are being written about Biden’s age and fitness, but not the same about Trump. They wondered why Democratic strategists are making voters fearful instead of leading with a steady hand. They wondered why Biden is taking all the hits while a felon with a rape conviction, his opponent, is not even addressed.

    Same.

    The biggest takeaway from the folks outside DC is they are angry that the “same shit” that happened in 2016 is rearing its head again. Several stated they are tired of the line “The DNC chose Biden.” They reminded me that primary voters picked him…Black voters picked him. They are sick of repeating it.

    These voters and activists did not waver when they repeated over and over again that they have no hesitation in voting for Biden in November.

    From that group of over 600 suburban folks to a group of about 20 rural Dems…

    You know I am rural and I often speak in rural spaces. Most of these spaces are older and White. When I listen to voters in these spaces, they have zero doubt about who their candidate is…even after the debate. Do they doubt that it was an awful showing? They do not. They watched it with their own eyes. Do they wish Biden performed better? Seemed younger? Spoke more clearly and concisely? Yes. Will they still vote for him? Also yes.

    Not one rural person I’ve spoken with wants to remove Biden from the ballot in favor of another candidate. They believe in the administration and they are fearful of another Trump presidency. They think Biden can beat Trump.

    This is what rural voters have told me: Biden has been good for ordinary people. He’s worked for public schools and the LGBTQ community and student loan forgiveness and infrastructure and rural broadband. They’ve seen highway projects funded. They remember that Biden curbed COVID deaths and consistently pushes for union jobs. They know he will not sign away reproductive rights.

    Listen, I am not paid by the DNC and I don’t earn a dime from my state party. I am a Democrat because the party aligns with most of my views, but I am not a party first person…I am a country first person. I can see with my own eyes what the Republicans are about and I already know what a Trump presidency will bring. We all know what it will mean.

    I will never forget the maxim: Democrats fall in love. Republicans fall in line. I know many of us are not in love, but can we come together to beat a certain autocrat? To overcome the fascism and Christian nationalism creeping in?

    I was as scared as any of us after the debate. I had a feeling of doom bearing down on me. After talking to so many voters since, even after reading so many terribly divisive pieces, I feel more calm. The voters I’ve listened to are not doing what the pundits claim they are doing. They have said that replacing Biden on the ticket will almost certainly divide the party. They have faith in the Biden administration. They have faith in his VP.

    I am tired of pundits creating a narrative that I don’t see in real life. I don’t know why they do it? For clout? For clicks?

    I hate that each of us is exposed to the fear every single day. I hate that many in the media are driving a wedge between Democrats with this incessant message of doom and gloom and the need for a new nominee.

    I have no crystal ball, but I do have neighbors and friends and I know organizers across the country. I hope we can make it through this with a nominee intact and a win in November. I hope we can listen to our neighbors and mute the pundit-class.

    Our country can’t manage another Trump presidency.

    ~Jess

    I think the sentence I highlighted is important, pushing Biden out will piss off plenty of people.

    Also, the GOP is desperate that the campaign be focused on Biden and not on Trump, A ditch Biden maneuver will help the GOP keep focus away from the mant GOP problems = Project 2025, SCOTUS, Trump’s not even controversial obvious dementia etc.

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  3. charontwo says:

    From my quote above:

    I am tired of pundits creating a narrative that I don’t see in real life. I don’t know why they do it? For clout? For clicks?

    I hate that each of us is exposed to the fear every single day. I hate that many in the media are driving a wedge between Democrats with this incessant message of doom and gloom and the need for a new nominee.

    Relevant to that, from a different newsletter:

    One of the most revealing statements of the MAGA era was when former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon confessed to an interviewer in 2018: “The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with sh*t.” We must keep this quote in mind at times like this when the sewage is pouring uncontrollably out of every major media outlet in America.

    What Bannon was proclaiming is a very different approach to politics than that to which Americans are accustomed, which is why we – and the media especially– have found it so hard to adapt to. This is where relying on scholars of totalitarianism and “strongman” rule, like Timothy Snyder, Jason Stanley and Ruth Ben-Ghiat, as well as past historians and philosophers who observed these phenomena directly, like Hannah Arendt, becomes critical.

    The MAGA propagandists are not really trying to convince you, they’re trying to confuse you and upset you in ways that make you feel helpless and make you turn away from politics and even the truth itself. I mean, when a media figure compares his own product to poop and says that his approach to it is not to simply supply it to his audience but to swamp the discourse with it, it speaks volumes about his intent.

    My emphasis.

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  4. charontwo says:

    @charontwo:

    What we are experiencing, in real time, is Christian Nationalist and Federalist Society/Leonard Leo project to install fascism. Don’t let them.

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  5. DK says:

    If Biden stays in, and the panic forces him to be less stage manged and lackadaisical (what is this “If Trump wins, I’m at peace” bs?) — maybe a little panic is good.

    If the panic forces Biden out, and replacing him with Kamala doesn’t prove disastrous, then the panic is good as well.

    But my anti-Trumpism makes me agree with this take — Why is the pundit class so desperate to push Biden out of the race? (The Guardian):

    …the pundit class of the American media is suffering from severe memory loss. Because they’re doing exactly what they did in the 2016 presidential race… wildly asymmetrical and inflammatory coverage of the one candidate running against Donald J Trump.

    They have become a stampeding herd… suggesting Biden is unfit, will lose and should go away, at a point in the campaign in which replacing him would likely be somewhere between extremely difficult and utterly catastrophic…

    …the New York Times has run 192 stories on the subject since the debate…The Washington Post…published a resignation speech they wrote for him…the New Yorker…had a staff writer suggest that Democrats should use the never-before-deployed 25th amendment…

    Since this would have to be led by Vice-President Kamala Harris, it would be a sort of insider coup. And so it goes with what appears to be a journalistic competition to outdo each other in the aggressiveness of the attacks and the unreality of the proposals. It’s a dogpile and a panic, and there is no one more unable to understand their own emotional life, biases and motives than people who are utterly convinced of their own ironclad rationality and objectivity, AKA most of these pundits.

    Speaking of coups, we’ve had a couple of late… Trump is not just a celebrity with a lot of sexual assault allegations, bankruptcies and loopily malicious statements, as he was in 2016. He’s a convicted criminal who orchestrated a coup attempt to steal an election both through backroom corruption and public lies and through a violent attack on Congress. The extremist US supreme court justices he selected during his last presidential term themselves staged a coup this very Monday, overthrowing the US constitution itself and the principle that no one is above the law… Just after legalizing bribery… and dismantling the regulatory state…

    Trump’s own former staffers are part of the Heritage Foundation’s team planning to implement Project 25 if he wins, which would finish off our system of government with yet another coup… This alarms me. So does the behavior of the US mainstream media…

    …all this coverage is because the media knows how to cover a normal problem like a sub-par candidate; they don’t know how to cover something as abnormal and unprecedented as the end of the republic…

    Biden is old. He was one kind of appalling in the 27 June debate…But Trump was another kind of appalling, in that almost everything he said was an outrageous lie… I get that writing about the monstrosity that is Trump faces the problem that it’s not news; he’s been a monster spouting lurid nonsense all his life (but his political crimes are recent, and his free-associating public soliloquies on sharks, batteries, toilets, water flow and Hannibal Lector, among other topics, are genuinely demented). He’s a racist, a fascist and a rapist…

    We are deciding whether this nation has a future as a more-or-less democratic republic… the fate of the earth when it comes to acting on climate change… But the shocking supreme court decisions this summer and the looming threat of authoritarianism have gotten little ink and air, compared to the hue and cry about Biden’s competence.

    …Biden is a lifelong stutterer…he operates under an extra burden with every unscripted answer he gives, particularly under pressure…

    …not an intellectual deficiency, but a sometimes hectic and disorderly translation of thoughts into words. In recent months, actual gerontologists have said in print that Biden appears to have normal signs of aging, not signs of dementia. Nevertheless, the amateur armchair diagnosticians have been out in packs, and their confidence in their ability to diagnose from watching TV is itself an alarming delusion…

    Although the Biden administration seems to have run extremely well for three and a half years… the narrative the punditocracy has created suggest we should ignore this record and decide on the basis of the 90-minute debate and reference to newly surfaced swarms of anonymous sources that Biden is incompetent. Quite a lot of them have been running magical-realism fantasy-football scenarios…to swap in your favorite substitute candidate…

    The main argument against Biden is not that he can’t govern – that would be hard to make given that he seems to have done so for the past years – but that he can’t win the election.

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  6. DK says:

    @TheRyGuy: But you worship Donald Trump — a Putin-puppet pedophile, thug, and rapist who incited a terror attack on Congress.

    I doubt politicians, pundits, or really anybody cares what you pedo-loving Trump trash think of them.

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  7. Kathy says:

    @charontwo:

    I don’t know a way to link to this

    Ask and ye shall retrieve

    Substacks are on a web site, in addition to email. It’s just a matter of finding it and copying the link.

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  8. Slugger says:

    Most people don’t pay that much attention to politics. War, peace? Very few of us are directly involved, and only a minority is in the frontline of any conflict. Taxes, the deficit? The vast majority has not seen much difference between the GOP and the Dems. Cultural values? That waiter with tattoos and painted nails seems pretty nice. Now, there are people who hang on every eructation of the pundits, but they are like those who know batting averages of AAA players, a committed minority.

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  9. drj says:

    @TheRyGuy:

    I think their panic over Biden’s debate performance had less to do with losing to Trump…

    Everyone who values the ideas of freedom and personal liberty would panic over the prospect of a second Trump term.

    Not everyone is as eager as you to grovel before a fascist thug. Not everyone lacks self-respect, you know.

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  10. Scott F. says:

    @charontwo:

    Also, the GOP is desperate that the campaign be focused on Biden and not on Trump, A ditch Biden maneuver will help the GOP keep focus away from the many GOP problems = Project 2025, SCOTUS, Trump’s not even controversial obvious dementia etc.

    Putting the focus on Trump and the many GOP problems is a group project and Democrats have to start to recognize what Bannon does – the press cannot be counted on as allies in this fight. The good news is that the Democrats don’t have to “flood the zone with sh!t,” since the Democrats have two very favorable narratives to drive to the forefront.

    First, the Republicans are a dumpster fire. It’s not just Trump, but everyone in the party who has bought into authoritarian rule over the governance through the consent of the governed. (This certainly appears to be the whole party – from SCOTUS appointees through the think tanks to the Trumpist base.)

    Second, the Democrats have a strong, positive case with the current administrations’ successes on policy and legislation. The bench is strong too, so run out the surrogates like Buttigieg, Whitmer, and Newsom.

    I read a quote from Heather Cox Richardson earlier today who said, “I don’t care if we elect Biden or Harris, or anybody else. I care that we recognize running currently against that ticket is somebody who is trying to destroy our country.” We need to ignore the horserace and focus on the stakes. This was true before the debate, it’s true now, and it will be true every day until November.

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  11. Gustopher says:

    @DK:

    If Biden stays in, and the panic forces him to be less stage manged and lackadaisical (what is this “If Trump wins, I’m at peace” bs?) — maybe a little panic is good.

    Agreed 100%.

    Biden trying to act Presidential is awful and stage managed.

    When Biden is raw and genuine, he’s genuinely likable, and comes across as great but inarticulate. I’m not saying he shouldn’t be the glad-handing politician that he is — he loves the glad-handing, and his enthusiasm for it comes through. It’s genuine glad-handing. He’s been described as a golden retriever in the past, and that’s what we love about him.

    But, he needs to cut the malarkey and just say that half of what Trump says is pure bullshit. This is the man widely and approvingly quoted for saying “this is a big fucking deal,” and he needs to show that genuine side. It’s clearly what he thinks, but he doesn’t say it strongly enough to cut through the narrative. If the sewer pipe of lies that threatens to undermine American democracy isn’t worth a mild vulgarity, what is?

    Change the conversation.

    And then hang onto that message with the tenacity of Kendrick Lamar calling Drake a pedophile. That is message discipline.

    (Also, he should quietly get checked out by a doctor to make sure the terrible debate where he appeared confused and lost wasn’t a sign of mental decline)

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  12. charontwo says:

    @Gustopher:

    (Also, he should quietly get checked out by a doctor to make sure the terrible debate where he appeared confused and lost wasn’t a sign of mental decline)

    He is already closely and continuously monitored by his physician. There is no concern about possible mental decline.

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  13. Gustopher says:

    @charontwo: That’s what they would have said about Reagan.

    ETA: or Trump, for that matter.

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  14. mcnp says:

    @charontwo: I live in a rural area and have a rather large circle of friends acquaintances most, but not all of them over 55 and white, and it’s hard to find one who is supportive of Biden staying in the race. I also lived in Columbus for 30 years and the same thing is true for just about every Democrat I know there. The feeling that Biden is too old and feeble to take on the vicious and malevolent threat that Trump and the Republican party pose has been bubbling under the surface for some time and the debate confirmed the worst of those fears. The Democrats are in a contest they simply cannot lose, and the man we saw a week ago Thursday is what they’re sending out to fight this fight? The President and those around him need to seriously think about his place in history, for if he stubbornly stays in the race and goes down to a decisive defeat because he was seen as simply to old for the job, and the country descends into some low level civil war or worse, history will be very unkind. I’ve always considered Biden to be a good and decent man. He’s been a good President during very turbulent times. I will absolutely vote for him and will do everything I can to get others to vote for him, but I have a great dread of what will happen if he remains the candidate.

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  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mcnp: I really wish that the situation were a simple as *just get Biden to withdraw and then everything will be fine.* Alas, it isn’t that simple

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  16. charontwo says:
  17. Kari Q says:

    Polls have made no sense this entire cycle, but these make even less sense. A 10 point difference between Wisconsin and Pennsylvania? Not buying that for a second. Makes as much sense as seniors swinging left while young Black voters swing right.

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  18. mcnp says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I didn’t say everything would be fine. The outcome could still be awful. But, with Biden we’ve been sleepwalking towards a disaster. Maybe we’re waking up just in time. It’s a big maybe, but I’ve come to believe it’s our best chance.

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  19. Richard Pohl says:

    A powerful grass roots movement has formed behind Joe. Seems folks remember he is ranked among our best presidents and Trump our worst. Seems many folks are angry at the MSM for its obvious ageism. Seems Americans are not as shallow as many pundits think we are.

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  20. Barry says:

    @TheRyGuy: “As much as I loathe the punditry and most politicians, I will give them this credit. I think their panic over Biden’s debate performance had less to do with losing to Trump and more to do with genuine concern over having a mentally and physically compromised President.”

    Well, that’s lie. These people hand-wave away Trump’s insanity.

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