Split Polls

Presidential v. senatorial polling in swings states is just, well, odd.

A new NYT/Philadelphia Inquirer/Siena College poll is out and the findings strike me as odd, to put it mildly.

Here are the presidential numbers:

And for key Senate races:

As a general matter, especially in our polarized times, it seems very strange that Senate contests would be more clearly pro-D than the presidential ones. While I could see the Democrats winning the Nevada Senate seats and losing the presidential race, it seems weird (not to get too technical) that Biden is behind by 12 points, but the Senate race is within the MOE (and that the GOP candidate and Biden both have 38% support).

Yes, there are always caveats about the polls, but there does seem to be ongoing and real weakness for Biden. On the one hand, I get it. He is quite old. We had generational inflation, and prices aren’t going back down. The whole situation in Gaza, etc. But, you know, the alternative is Trump.

One presumes that most of the undecideds/”others” in these polls (the 12% in Nevada, the 11% in Wisconsin, and so forth) will eventually have to settle on Biden or Trump in the main (I would truly be shocked if any state had double-digit third party voting).

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


  1. James Joyner says:

    What’s interesting is that these are Registered Voter numbers. Cohn notes that the numbers among Likely Voters are more favorable to Biden, which is a decided switch from the way things were a decade or more ago, when I was more intimately connected to the political polling industry through my late first wife. Presumably, that’s a function of older and better-educated voters, who are much more likely to vote now, being mostly Democratic, and white blue-collar folks being mostly Republican.

  2. Modulo Myself says:

    Biden just represents a part of America which makes another part of America extremely bitter and defensive about their own choices. This part of America is far-away from Georgia or Wisconsin, and yet every guy who drives a huge truck and owns a bunch of guns know that there’s someone in Park Slope who has a theory or two about why. Ditto for being angry about immigration or wokeness or whatever. Conservative media and centrists feed an audience who needs this fix about how intolerant people who think you’re an idiot are. And yet being extremely defensive and bitter is not an admirable quality. Trump is great at channeling both without sounding like Ron DeSantis. His emulators are horrible.

  3. Matt Bernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    What’s interesting is that these are Registered Voter numbers. Cohn notes that the numbers among Likely Voters are more favorable to Biden, which is a decided switch from the way things were a decade or more ago.

    I have been meaning to write on this (and probably will once I hit my sabbatical next month)–there is a lot of indication of exactly what you are saying:
    – Polling of the voting-eligible population shows big leads for Trump
    – Polling of likely voters lean Biden (though I cannot remember if it’s usually outside the MOE or not).

    If you accept that as true, you would expect that Trump supporters (or those who want a Republican to win, even if it’s him) would be interested in joining those of us who think we should be erring on the side of making it easier to vote rather than harder. Seriously, please join us in those efforts!

    Unfortunately, I fear it’s setting up a dynamic that if the polls prove correct and the people who actually vote go for Biden, will be met by further attempts by Republicans to restrict the vote (as we saw post-2020).

  4. Andy says:

    I think this is an effect of Biden being a very unpopular candidate compared to the down-ballot candidates.

    Again, this is a very unusual election. We have the most unpopular incumbent President in the history of modern polling in Biden, and the second most unpopular in with Trump. With Biden as the current incumbent, the negativity will hit him harder in polling at this stage than it will Trump. Yes, that will even out over time from polarization and negative partisanship if nothing else, but it’s greatly concerning – to me at least – that Biden’s favorability numbers have, at best, not moved at all for the last six months.

    Most of the down-ballot races don’t have this dynamic of two extremely unpopular candidates, so it’s not at all surprising that the numbers are different at this stage.

  5. Gustopher says:

    Biden is demonized far more than the standard Democrat running for Senate. There are whole news channels that are basically “Biden is Bad” but no one really knows who Ruben Gallego is.

    Far more people in Arizona know about Joe Biden’s crime family and 23 other things that didn’t happen, plus how old he is, than know that Ruben Gallego does whatever a Ruben Gallego does.

    On first glance, it would seem like the same should apply to Trump being more demonized, and that it would all even out, but Ruben Gallego (whoever he is) is running against Kari Lake who is a complete loon.


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