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The polls are right, but not quite
Trump's battleground state appeal is fading, while Biden's defects are becoming an issue.
It’s hard for me personally to understand why the polls continuously have Donald Trump with a double-digit lead among Republican voters in primary polls (as of September 12, that is). As my brother tends to gently smack me in the head to bring me to reality—people have made their major decision on Trump’s disqualification. Those who continue to choose him have decided he isn’t disqualified by his actions leading up to January 6th, on that day, or since. As the CPA noted on the client tax return claiming sewage overflow expenses, “it is what it is.”
What is not so surprising to me, but remains so with many in the media, is how poorly President Joe Biden is faring in general election polling against Trump. Biden is losing to Trump in some polls by as much as 5 points. He is even shown losing against Chris Christie or Mike Pence. He is down by 6 points against Nikki Haley.
It’s not surprising because the public sees Biden’s defects very plainly, even if many want to root for him (because he’s “not Trump”). Joe Biden, the man, is not aging well. He is in mental decline, and it’s obvious when you look at things like the presser in Vietnam, where Biden suddenly blurted “I’m going to bed” as he responded to a press question. Erick Erickson picked up on Biden’s campaign decision to dump $25 million in swing states a year plus two months before election day. A confident team doesn’t do this, especially in a race where they aren’t generating a ton of cash in campaign donations.
As the race unwinds toward what seems to be an inevitable default choice between two undesirables, the polls don’t lie. In national terms, Trump is faring better than Biden, but in electoral terms, that’s probably less relevant than it seems.
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Nate Cohn wrote in the New York Times (paywall) that there’s evidence Trump’s advantage in battleground states is diminishing. The gap between the national vote and states such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan was markedly smaller in the 2022 midterms than in 2016 and 2020.
Also, Biden is holding his lead in states where Democrats did better in the midterms. It’s not necessary for Biden to gain to win in November 2024, but to keep from losing in battleground states. That would explain the advertising spend.
In terms of “tipping point” states, Biden likely has a small advantage, and, though we have no idea of what’s to come in the next six, let alone 14 months, it’s probably going to trend the way it’s been trending.
Knowing what we know about both candidates, we’re facing a lackluster season of mudslinging, scandal, courtrooms (for Hunter Biden and Donald Trump), followed by a Faustian choice of two terrible options. One option is disqualified because should he gain power, he would destroy the integrity of our government and flout the constitution with complete abandon. The other option is an old man who will clearly not be the one running things, and will continue the policies of his predecessor, but without overt dictatorial bent (a “soft” dictatorial bent).
We don’t have as much to worry about given that voters are seeing more clearly, with the fringes and nuts of both legacy parties moving further from the sane center. We can see the realignment as the parties become less relevant in policy and more about hygiene, which neither is particularly good at.
Perhaps after 2024, the break between the Trump crazies and the envirokooks and race baiters, and the parties with whom these conspiracist nuts associate, will finally complete and fracture both the D’s and R’s so that sane people can get back to debating issues and facts.
The good news here is that when it comes down to electoral politics (the Sturm und Drang of liberals calling to burn down the Electoral College notwithstanding), the country seems to be moving to a safer place, away from the advantage Trump carried in 2016 and even in 2020. Should we have a Biden/Trump 2024 (which, again, seems likely right now), it will be close, but the cigar will go to Biden in practically every swing state, which means Biden will win, decisively.
But, as every election piece must end 14 months before the polls open, “anything can happen.” (But it probably won’t.)