Stupid Polling Tricks

Americans don't want either Trump or Biden! Film at 11.

ABC News (“Trump’s indictments: Polling shows half of Americans want him to suspend his campaign, and more takeaways“) provides the latest example of a trend in media circles I find maddening: polling on questions where public opinion is irrelevant in order to gin up content.

The most recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, conducted Aug. 15-17, showed some problems for former President Donald Trump in terms of public opinion on his mounting criminal charges amid his comeback bid for the White House.

[…]

But the ABC News/Ipsos survey — which follows three other polls this year in the wake of Trump’s charges in three other indictments, all of which he denies — suggest that while Republicans are still largely supporting him, he faces issues with the broader public.

President Joe Biden, whom Trump could face next year in a rematch of the 2020 race, is also grappling with an anemic favorability rating, seemingly not receiving a boost even as many Americans say they want Trump to suspend his campaign.

[…]

Early this month, 20% of Republicans said Trump should suspend his campaign and 14% said he should have been charged in the Jan. 6 indictment.

These results are unchanged in the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll, with 20% of Republicans saying Trump should suspend his campaign and 15% indicating he should have been charged in the Georgia indictment.

[…]

Early this month, 49% of adults said in the ABC News/Ipsos poll that Trump should suspend his campaign — and 50% say the same in the most recent survey. Only about a third of Americans in these polls don’t think Trump should suspend his campaign, with the rest undecided.

That roughly half of Americans think Trump should suspend his campaign is a complete irrelevancy. Ditto the roughly half of Americans who think President Biden shouldn’t run for re-election. Indeed, a far larger share of Democrats think Biden shouldn’t run than Republicans who think Trump shouldn’t run.

They’re both going to run and, almost certainly, get their party’s nomination.

But they’re both wildly unpopular!

True.

Doesn’t matter.

Assuming they both make it to 5 November 2024, one of the two will win enough Electors to serve as President. Assuming the winner makes it to 20 January 2025, he’ll take the oath of office and be the President.

Right now, they’re roughly tied in the national polls. New York Times had it 43-43 earlier this month. RealClearPolitics has it Biden 44.5-Trump 43.1 right now. 270toWin rounds it to 43-43 but gives Trump a 0.2% lead. More importantly—to the extent polling this far out is at all meaningful—Biden has narrow leads in Michigan and Pennsylvania while Trump has narrow leads in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and Minnesota. (Which, if I’m doing the map correctly in my morning haste, would give it to Trump 272-266).

But the point of this isn’t to predict a winner. It’s too early for that. But, rather, it makes no sense to poll the public for its opinions on things where its opinions are irrelevant.

Given that Biden is going to run, the question is whether Democrats will support him in the primary. They will. Regardless of whether they’d prefer a theoretical other candidate, will they support Biden against Trump in the general? You betcha.

Ditto with Trump. A lot of Republicans would prefer a theoretical alternative Republican with less baggage. But Trump is going to mop the floor with the available Republican candidates and wrap up the nomination very early in the cycle. Will the overwhelming number of Republicans rally around him in the general against Biden? Of course.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2024, Media, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I think it would be more accurate to say that people are trying to enjoy the summer and don’t want to hear about politics until next year. It’s less a don’t-like-either than a oh-for-the-love-of-bleeping-bleepity-bleep-don’t-bug-me-before-2024. When the election gears start grinding next spring, they’ll get down to it and make their decisions. And since there’s genuinely a lot of – shall we say – uncertainty about Trump’s short-term future, that’s a sound attitude.

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  2. Charley in Cleveland says:

    It seems that the media – or at least the pollsters – look at Biden’s age and Trump’s criminality/corruption as equivalent negatives, which is absurd. And it isn’t just that polling a year + before the election is ridiculous, it’s the fact that those being polled are landline holders who either don’t have or ignore caller ID…making it a demo that is certainly not reflective of the country as a whole (kind of like Iowa and New Hampshire). Again, the political media shows itself to be as shallow as a puddle and interested only in horse race coverage.

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  3. gVOR10 says:

    @Charley in Cleveland:

    Again, the political media shows itself to be as shallow as a puddle and interested only in horse race coverage.

    Thank you for that. The press are frequently accused of political bias, but their real bias is laziness. They have column inches to fill and limited resources to fill them. This is why we no longer get news stories, but thousand word essays about the news. It seems to be against the rules to write a front page item to the effect that nothing much actually happened yesterday, so today’s Times will be thinner than usual.

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  4. CSK says:

    @Charley in Cleveland:

    Robert B. Parker once observed that the press treats politics like baseball stats.

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  5. JKB says:

    Trump has access to the defiance vote.

    Molly Hemmingway on her podcast told of a Republican she knew who was not a fan of the Kavanaugh nomination considering him a squish. But when the attacks started, this guy was all in with a win or die attitude. Similarly, some are starting that with Trump. Not fans of Trump, but now with each indictment more are all in on Trump just to stop the “bad acts” of these prosecutions. You can accept “bad acts” or not, the point is that people who would have been “meh” are not digging in deep for Trump.

    There were a bunch of social media posts from black “influencers” reacting “all in for Trump” after the mug shot. Don’t know if they have any traction beyond amusement, but if they cause the black voters to stop and think….

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  6. CSK says:

    @JKB:

    Indeed. The MAGAs claim that the greater Trump’s legal problems, the more committed they are to vote for him.

    I assume you meant “are now digging in deeper for Trump” rather than “not digging in deeper for Trump.”

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  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    There is not the slightest evidence that indictments are helping Trump with independent voters. None. He appeals to his cult, that’s his limit. High floor, low ceiling. NH Governor Sununu (R) flat-out predicts the annihilation of the GOP if they follow Trump ever further into the gutter.

    You saw the huge protests in Atlanta against his arrest? Yeah, me neither. Your god is screwed and if he had a brain in his empty head he’d run to his master in Moscow, because we are putting his ass in prison.

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  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JKB: My thought is that social media influencers (and even more so with social media “influencers”) may be a niche category whose impact will be hard to gauge–especially by some MAGA cracker. Just sayin’.

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  9. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Because JKB and his ilk have the emotional majority of a four year-old — as evidenced by his convincing argument that all it takes to get him to vote for someone is to be told to vote for someone else — they assume everyone else does, too. Never occurs to JKB that there are actually American citizens who can articulate a thought deeper than “you’re not the boss of me.”

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  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    It also never occurs to them that Trump and his fascist clown cavalcade also trigger defiance from those of us not in the cult. But he’s just whistling past the graveyard. I suspect JKB like many MAGAts knows deep down it’s over for them. Losers know they’re losers. They’re just marking time til they can switch to another lost cause myth. They’ll be much happier wallowing in self pity.

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  11. Jen says:

    They have column inches to fill and limited resources to fill them.

    And editors who now act more like business managers and advance stories to get clicks/drive eyeballs instead of news that actually matters to our understanding, further reinforcing the idiocy of advancing “horse race” stories.

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  12. Jen says:

    @JKB:

    You can accept “bad acts” or not, the point is that people who would have been “meh” are not digging in deep for Trump.

    “The GOP is deeply committed to its sunk cost fallacy” is not exactly the flex you think it is.

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  13. mattbernius says:

    @JKB:

    There were a bunch of social media posts from black “influencers” reacting “all in for Trump” after the mug shot. Don’t know if they have any traction beyond amusement, but if they cause the black voters to stop and think….

    Ty for the reminder that I’ve been working on a post about an editorial from a few weeks ago by a Black conservative who breaks down why Black Conservatives have such a hard time voting for and identifying as Republicans. It’s got a great tie in to White republicans and MAGA folks takes on how his booking makes Trump more “Black” than Obama.

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  14. Gustopher says:

    @JKB:

    There were a bunch of social media posts from black “influencers” reacting “all in for Trump” after the mug shot. Don’t know if they have any traction beyond amusement, but if they cause the black voters to stop and think….

    Black right wing influencer is one of the easiest grifts out there.

    The audience isn’t Black folks, but white folk who believe that “the Democrats are the party of slavery” and such. If you cherry pick your history, skip the party switch, and don’t like being called a racist just because the open white supremacists are in your column*, then a Black right wing influencer might be for you.

    And basically no one else falls for their schtick. It’s kind of beautiful, really.

    ——
    *: As a very stupid man once said, “there are fine people on both sides.” I expect his definition of “fine” means racist, and if so, then yes. But Democrats have racists and Republicans have white supremacists.

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  15. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @wr: @Michael Reynolds: @Jen: @mattbernius:

    I took JKB‘s comment to mean that the MAGAs are more firmly committed to supporting Trump than ever. And that’s quite true, given the MAGA commenters I’ve read.

    It’s not true of Independents, and probably not of some Republicans.

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  16. DK says:

    @JKB:

    There were a bunch of social media posts from black “influencers” reacting “all in for Trump” after the mug shot.

    A bunch? Name five of this “bunch.” What are their @? Lol

    …but if they cause the black voters to stop and think….

    Stop and think what? How Trump is trying get black campaign workers killed with his sore loser election lies? How Trump is endangering the lives of black prosecutors and their families? How Trump tweeted a White Power video on 28 June 2020, relaunched his toxic political career with racist birther lies against the first black president, caused record job loss by failing to contain a deadly virus because it was disproportionately killing urban blacks, then launched the deadly Jan 6 terror attack to invalidate black votes?

    Or stop and think how Republicans cheer police brutality, smeared Michelle Obama, smear Kamala Harris, smeared Ketanji Brown-Jackson, passed a bunch of vote suppression bills to accommodate Trump’s illegal coup attempt, and are banning books, banning black thought, and claiming slavery had its benefits?

    Are right wingers so obtuse y’all think when black voters stop and think — as we frequently do — this works out in your favor? If so, consider a new drug.

    P.S. Here’s a video of black Floridians booing Ron DeSanctimonious off the mic in Jacksonville yesterday, where the poison spread by Republican white supremacy and its “just asking questions” enablers have (again) helped kill blacks. Trump should show up next, and see how that goes for him. Hehe.

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  17. DK says:

    @Charley in Cleveland:

    It seems that the media – or at least the pollsters – look at Biden’s age and Trump’s criminality/corruption as equivalent negatives, which is absurd.

    Very absurd since Dementia Donald is only three years younger than Biden and, at three times more obese than Biden, hardly the picture of health.

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  18. DrDaveT says:

    @mattbernius:

    It’s got a great tie in to White republicans and MAGA folks takes on how his booking makes Trump more “Black” than Obama.

    To be more Black than Obama, Trump would need to be shot dead during a traffic stop while reaching for his driver’s license.

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  19. Lounsbury says:

    @CSK: acid, eating slowly away. The manner to think about this, and in the context not of National but each of the marginal electoral college jurisdictions – the at the margin states. A drip drip of acid eating at the support in such constituencies can

    Irrelevant of course to either the solid R or solid D states where the respective party wins by large margins.

    In the same fashion the Half desirious of Trump suspension is not per se useful or indicative – but within the the numbers there may be meaningful insights as the the marginal voter sets, the swing voters or at-margin generally R voter, growing discomfort, the acid, may be the hope relative to the specific electoral geographies, the swing districts of those close states.

    (the delusional as JKB existing in the Fox ecochambre, they may be an ironic advantage in utterly misreading the broader election-market sentiments about Mr Biden and thus like poorly informed offensives in war, charge gloriously into minefields)

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  20. Gustopher says:

    @DK:

    Are right wingers so obtuse y’all think when black voters stop and think — as we frequently do — this works out in your favor? If so, consider a new drug.

    I don’t see how anyone can look at 90% of Black voters voting for Democrats, and assume anything other than Republicans must be actively repelling Black voters.

    I mean this in the best of all possible ways — Democrats aren’t that good. We aren’t giving reasons to vote for us at that level.

    10% support for Republicans? That’s lower than some truly crazy beliefs among Americans. I vividly recall an NY Times article in the 1990s about something or other (ok, semi-vividly remember) which then said “to put that number in perspective, 17% of Americans believe Elvis is alive.”

    In 2016, roughly 9% of Americans believed in PizzaGate, and another 19% weren’t sure.

    https://www.vox.com/2016/12/9/13898328/pizzagate-poll-trump-voters-clinton-facebook-fake-news

    (There is likely a lot of noise on this one, but I do love that 5% of Clinton voters believed it, compared to 14% of Trump voters, meaning that about 25% of the people who believe PizzaGate are in favor?)

    Republicans are literally the party that freed the slaves and they now cannot get beyond fringe levels of support among Black voters. We’ve either microchipped Black voters and are controlling their thoughts, or Republicans are amazingly vile.

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  21. DK says:

    @Gustopher: Haha I mean, I just can’t imagine why conservatives telling black voters to “Get off the Democrat plantation” isn’t working. Blacks just love glib, racist language comparing us to slaves.

    So persuasive! That and a mugshot of Trump, the Bigot-in-Chief, is really going to make a critical mass of blacks reconsider voting for the Democratic Party of Social Security, Medicare, Thurgood Marshall, SCHIP, Obamacare, and Ketanji Brown-Jackson to instead endorse the Trump Party’s tax cuts for billionaires, corporate welfare, vote suppression, attacks on black history and scholarship, and defenses of monuments to pro-slavery Confederate traitors. FOH.

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  22. DeD says:

    @CSK:

    I took JKB‘s comment to mean that the MAGAs are more firmly committed to supporting Trump than ever. And that’s quite true, given the MAGA commenters I’ve read.

    Oh, CSK, when have you ever known JKB to be so nuanced?

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