Wednesday, May 13, 2020


This poll seems like outlier, though who knows?
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's lead over President Donald Trump now stands at five points, but Trump has an edge in the critical battleground states that could decide the electoral college, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

In the new poll, 51% of registered voters nationwide back Biden, while 46% say they prefer Trump, while in the battlegrounds, 52% favor Trump and 45% Biden.
Here's the part that seems suspect:
The poll suggests Biden outpaces Trump among voters over age 45 by a 6-point margin, while the two are near even among those under age 45 (49% Biden to 46% Trump).

Though other recent polling has shown some signs of concern for Biden among younger voters and strength among older ones, few have pegged the race as this close among younger voters. The results suggest that younger voters in the battleground states are tilted in favor of Trump, a stark change from the last CNN poll in which battleground voters were analyzed in March....
Trump is running nearly even with Biden among younger people? And it's not because they're inclined to go third-party? (Only 5% of younger voters are failing to line up with one of the major-party candidates, we're told.) This doesn't seem right. But who knows?

In any case, the fact that Biden is struggling in battleground states in this poll (even though he's doing well in those states in other polls) won't surprise Eric Levitz of New York magazine, who's just written a post titled "Trump’s Odds of Winning Reelection Are Higher Than You Think." Levitz once thought the coronavirus crisis and economic downturn would sink Trump.
If a pathological narcissist with no message discipline was running a tad behind Joe Biden when unemployment was historically low, surely he would fall out of contention once America entered a pandemic-induced depression....

And yet: We’re more than one month into America’s worst economic crisis in 80 years and Trump’s approval rating is still considerably higher than it has been for most of his presidency.
Levitz thinks Democrats shouldn't be in trouble "so long as one posits that Trump’s crisis halo is in the process of wearing off and the well-established correlation between economic conditions and incumbent approval will soon resurface. But what if that correlation is an artifact of a less polarized time in American politics?"

Levitz runs through some possible reasons Trump's popularity might be durable, all having to do with the increasing partisanship of the American electorate:
Over the past two decades, U.S. voters have become ever-more-tightly ensconced in one party or the other. Ticket-splitting ... has plummeted since Barack Obama’s election.... Today, Americans are getting more of their information about politics from national, ideologically oriented outlets — and less from local, putatively neutral ones — than ever before....

In a world with fewer swing voters, a recession is likely to hurt Trump less than it would past incumbents.
But it seems obvious now that Trump is doing a terrible job of managing this crisis. And it's not as if every Republican wins in every red state now -- Alabama elected a Democratic senator in 2017 when the Republican on the ballot was Roy Moore; Kansas elected a Democratic governor in 2018, rejecting Kris Kobach; Kentucky chose Democrat Andy Beshear over Republican incumbent Matt Bevin in last year's gubernatorial election. Red-state voters are still capable of rejecting Republican candidates they don't like.

Which means that Republican voters aren't just telling pollsters they approve of how Trump is handling the crisis out of habit or loyalty -- they really like what he's doing.

Why do they like it? Because he's turned the crisis into the kind of entertainment they enjoy most. Trump vs. the media. Trump vs. China. Trump vs. the libs. Trump vs. smart people. Trump vs. women who aren't deferential.

Remember, many Republicans live far away from the outbreaks. This crisis is an abstrction to them. And if they find themselves in the midst of an outbreak someday, they may simply conclude, following Trump (and Fox News), that it's someone else's fault.

If Trump wins in November, it won't be in spite of the fact that voters knew he failed to deal effectively with the crisis. A portion of the GOP electorate would dump him if they felt that way. They think he's handling the crisis superbly.

Trump's not-terrible poll numbers aren't just the result of the (R) after his name. This is more than Republicans remaining loyal to a Republican. They could theoretically blame Trump for everything that's going wrong. So far, however, they blame everyone Trump blames.

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