Sunday, March 29, 2020


Okay, this is not great news for Joe Biden:
Former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged as Democrats’ top choice for the presidential nomination in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, but with only bare majority support within his party and a massive enthusiasm gap in a November matchup against President Donald Trump.

Indeed, strong enthusiasm for Biden among his supporters – at just 24% – is the lowest on record for a Democratic presidential candidate in 20 years of ABC/Post polls. More than twice as many of Trump’s supporters are highly enthusiastic about supporting him, 53%.
Two things to keep in mind: Biden still leads in this poll among registered voters, 49%-47%, and if you combine voters who are "very" and "somewhat" enthusiastic about voting for each candidate, the gap is not massive (86% total enthusiasm for Trump, 74% for Biden). And the question is asks specifically about the candidate: "Would you say you are very enthusiastic about supporting Biden/Trump, somewhat enthusiastic, not so enthusiastic or not enthusiastic at all?" I'm not "very enthusiastic" about supporting Biden. I'm "very enthusiastic" about voting Trump out.

Still, this is a troubling poll for Biden. But we need to look at poll averages. Biden still leads Trump by 5.8 in the Real Clear Politics average. And if we average the two major polls released in the past couple of days, the number is 5.5.

I told you on Friday about that other poll -- a Fox News poll with Biden up 49%-40% among registered voters. In that poll, there's no enthusiasm gap:
The race remains a nine-point advantage for Biden over Trump when looking only at those voters extremely interested in the election (52-43 percent)....
Right, because the Fox question wasn't about whether respondents are enthusiastic about their candidate, it's about whether they're eager to vote in November. (The question is "How interested are you in the presidential election?," with choices ranging from "Extremely" to "Not at all.")

Oh, and:
... the former vice president has an eight-point edge in battleground states (48-40 percent).

However, Biden’s advantage grows to 25 points, 57-32 percent, in close counties (where Hillary Clinton and Trump were within 10 points in 2016).
I suspect that an election held today would yield results that fall somewhere between the results in these two surveys. But we have no idea what the conditions will be for the election. I worry about covid-19 disproportionately hitting large metropolitan areas (which are overwhelmingly anti-Trump) and doing less damage in Trump Country, where there's already a tendency to downplay the risk of the virus. Trump voters might simply be less squeamish about voting in November if we're still in a coronavirus crisis.

But I also believe that Trump is at serious risk of being defeated if we can do a reasonably good job of conducting an election.

If Democrats (as I'm seeing on Twitter) are obsessing over this ABC/Post poll after ignoring the Fox poll, I think it's partly because, on some level, we're accustomed to being beaten up by both Republicans and Sanders fans. Our master narrative (and theirs) is "Democrats are doomed." But we aren't.

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