Yesterday, I cited a WSJ/NBC poll that found President Trump 14 points behind Joe Biden. I expressed skepticism that Biden has a lead that large. Steve has since cited other polls that find the race to be close.
To this mix, I want to call attention to the most recent survey I’ve seen. It’s a poll for Just the News conducted by Scott Rasmussen from October 1-3. The public learned of Trump’s infection with the Wuhan coronavirus during that period.
According to this poll, Biden leads by eight points, 51-43. Three percent opt for another candidate and the same percentage are undecided.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls also has Biden up by eight points. The polls included in that average were taken beginning on September 21. A lot has happened since then, but the needle doesn’t seem to have moved very much.
Steve reminds us that at one stage of the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton led Trump in at least one poll by 14 points. I believe this was after Trump’s charming comments to Billy Bush about women became public. On Election Day, Clinton’s margin was only two percent and Trump was able to prevail in the Electoral College.
It’s possible that we’ll see a repeat this year. I hope we do.
However, there’s a big difference between this election and the last one. Last time, Trump wasn’t the incumbent. Clinton wasn’t either, but she was much more like an incumbent than Trump, the total outsider.
Clinton was so widely disliked that many swing voters were willing to take a chance on Trump. Now, voters have had four years to reflect on how well this worked out. The election is likely to turn on what they conclude.
Unfortunately, Trump’s approval rating is underwater — 45.3 to 52.7 — according to the RCP average. That gap is about the same as the RCP average of Trump’s deficit in the head-to-head against Biden.
Maybe large swaths of the electorate are too “shy” to say they approve of Trump and/or will vote for him in November. I hope that’s why Trump isn’t doing better in polls.
But it’s quite possible that Trump actually is behind by something like seven to eight points, and urgently needs to close the gap. Let’s hope that he is on the verge of a full recovery from the virus and can come roaring back. Let’s hope that Mike Pence lends a hand when he debates Kamala Harris on Wednesday.
Above all, let’s hope that Trump’s next two debate performances are significantly more appealing than the first one, and that America is still willing to watch.