Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Here's a tweet written last week by Ross Douthat, who's not a Trump fan and who's certain Trump is doomed:

And, well, he's right. Last night, Rachel Maddow previewed a new Public Policy Polling survey showing ... Trump within four:

And today there's this, from Quinnipiac:
- FLORIDA: Clinton 43 - Trump 42; Sanders 44 - Trump 42

- OHIO: Clinton 39 - Trump 43; Sanders 43 - Trump 41

- PENNSYLVANIA: Clinton 43 - Trump 42; Sanders 47 - Trump 41

In a race marked by wide gender, age and racial gaps, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running neck and neck in the key presidential Swing States of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, but Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont runs stronger against the likely Republican nominee, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.
In this poll, Sanders doesn't even do particularly well against Trump in Ohio and Florida. Only in Pennsylvania are his numbers significantly better than Clinton's.

So are we underestimating Trump as a general election candidate?

I can't tell. PPP thinks one factor is that Republicans have unified first:

As for the Quinnipiac polls, there's some skepticism about the demographics:

I haven't examined this thoroughly. I see that the Florida 2012 electorate was 13% black and 17% Hispanic, and the Florida Quinnipiac poll is 11% black and 15% Hispanic. So there's a skew, but is it big enough to tilt the poll to Trump? I'm not sure.

A local poll, from Bendixen and The Miami Herald, shows Clinton walloping Trump by 27 points, 52%-25%, in Miami-Dade County. The poll shows that she get a fifth of Republican voters in Miami-Dade. President Obama won big in Miami-Dade last time -- 62%-38%, a 24-point margin -- but this is a (slightly) bigger margin.

So believe what you want to believe.

I think Democrats still haven't unified. I think rank-and-file Democratic voters -- not the most politically engaged people, but average voters -- focus on politics later in a typical election cycle than rank-and-file Republicans. I checked the 2012 numbers and notice that Mitt Romney led in a lot of polls in May of that year.

So I think Clinton will in his one, but the margin will be more like the ones in 2008 or 2012 than in 1964. I think the Republicans could nominate Charles Manson and still win at least 175 electoral votes, because they think literally anyone who's not a Democrat is preferable to a Democrat.

And, yes, Sanders is still doing better than Clinton in these polls. I've felt for a while that we can't really tell how Sanders would do in a general election for three reasons: GOP opposition research hasn't been deployed against him; he'd never raise a billion dollars, and a billion dollars would be spent against him; and corporatist Democrats would refuse to support him.

I'm not sure that last worry is relevant. With the GOP running, say, John Kasich, I think the Ed Rendell and Bob Kerrey types really might defect -- but I don't see it against Trump. So that's one problem down.

The money is still a problem, however. And the GOP attacks? Well, I've said for a while that attacking him for being a socialist, or for being sympathetic to Cuba and the Soviet Union, would probably fail. The Berlin Wall fell decades ago. Most people don't care anymore. And capitalism doesn't look so great these days.

The Sanders Achilles' heel is taxes. Here's a story that didn't go viral yesterday:
Study: Sanders' Proposals Would Add $18 Trillion To Debt Over 10 Years

... The Tax Policy Center estimated on Monday that Sanders' taxation-and-spending plans -- including outlays for programs like Medicare for all and free college tuition -- would together add $18 trillion to the national debt over a decade. In addition, the center's Howard Gleckman wrote, it would add $3 trillion in interest costs.

He called it an "unprecedented increase in government borrowing."
This would be the bulk of the Republican campaign against Sanders. Would it work? I think it would work better than quoting some R-rated alt-weekly essay he wrote when he was in his twenties. Would it make him a weaker general-election candidate than Clinton? I really don't know.

But it's moot. He's not going to win the nomination. So it would be nice to have some Democratic unity right now. Until that happens, there are going to be a number of scary polls like the ones from PPP and Quinnipiac.


UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the PPP poll (the full results of which have been posted now) shows that Donald Trump is less popular than lice, jury duty, root canals, and Nickelback.

And yet he stills Clinton by only 4. I'd hate to see her numbers head-to-head versus lice or root canals.


UPDATE: Hmmm....


AllieG said...

Two things. 1. It's a front-runners universe. The candidate who's first to get all the other opponents to drop out will always get a boost for that. If Sanders hadn't won Michigan, Clinton might already have had that (temporary) boost.
2. All the polls that show Trump close also show an extremely high percentage of those who refuse to choose, either as undecideds, others or what have you. I would bet all I own Gary Johnson and Jill Stein don't get six percent of the vote between them. Since I find it impossible to believe that many people REALLY don't know enough about these two candidates to now have an opinion, I believe the decisive bloc of the electorate is "I don't want to think about this until I absolutely have to."

AllieG said...

PS: PPP is right. Looking at both matchups, all total changes come out of Sanders' topline. A significant if not real large percentage of his supporters are still in the denial-anger-depression phase.

Steve M. said...

I agree that Johnson/Stein won't top 6% total -- Johnson in particular has no rage to offer disgruntled Rs (who don't seem all that disgruntled anyway, except for a few posturing pundits). Stein, though, may do better than the Greens usually do. My prediction is that Salon is going to transition from wall-to-wall Sanders propaganda to wall-to-wall Stein propaganda just after the convention, led by Ha-Ha Goodman and Walker Bragman. Sanders turf on Reddit and the like will also morph into Stein territory. And there'll be ratfucking -- I bet you'll also see Stein on Fox a lot.

jsrtheta said...

Well, Quinnipiac has ensured everyone will be reporting their numbers from here on in! Whew, irrelevancy staved off again!

Florida has been a polling disaster for Trump, but now all that's gone? I guess it doesn't suck to be him after all. Or maybe this poll is totally bullshit.

I vote for option "B."

pbriggsiam said...

Current healthcare system costs 3.2 Trillion/year. Replacing it for 3.2 Trillion and covering everybody is a good thing. Better than what we have.

Didn't want that to get lost in your larger point.

Scott Wallace said...

You guys are forgetting 4 other national polls that have Trump within 3. Also Reuters Ipsos database has Trump and Clinton as off today on their rolling poll. All of these polls are included on the Real clear politics averages. It's not that Trump is climbing - look at the percentages- it's that Hillary is falling. Bernie has taken a hunk out of her with the under 30 crowd. Also Trump's unfavorables have bottomed out and Hillary is still diving. Reuters Ipsos has several other obviously party commissioned polls that show Hillary is very weak and disliked. For example, more people who vote for Trump do it because they want to stop Hillary (it's slightly worse for her at 2%). In addition more people are voting for Trump who believe in his policy (whatever they are??) than vote for Hillary. Hillary oddly wins on personal likability by 7%. I think the negatives for Hillary's candidacy are just as bad and maybe worse than those for Trump. BTW-Trump scares the hell out of me- he's a third world dictator in the making.

jsrtheta said...

Okay, @Scott Wallace, let's look at reality in the form of a Republican ad:

"Bernie says he thinks the U.S. should be more like Denmark.

"The individual income tax rate in Denmark is 58%."

Bye bye Bernie.

Get my point?

Steve M. said...

Scott, Jeff, you're both right. The Democrats needed another viable candidate. Biden would be beating Trump by double digits.