Throughout the summer, various polls from the key battleground states indicate Joe Biden is in a very strong position. He is up two in Arizona, eight in North Carolina, 11 in Pennsylvania, 10 in Michigan, nine in Florida, nine in Wisconsin, and eight in Ohio. With those numbers, Donald Trump’s reelection is certainly doomed. The only problem is that those polling numbers are from a year ago, when many pundits thought Trump’s reelection was more likely than not.
A year later and after Trump has been pummeled nonstop for his coronavirus response and the racial unrest, the polling data from those same states has gotten worse — for Biden.
Specifically, according to RealClearPolitics’s latest polling data, Biden’s lead is six in Arizona, one in North Carolina, five in Pennsylvania, six in Michigan, seven in Florida, six in Wisconsin and six in Ohio. So, except for Arizona where his lead grew by four points, Biden lost ground in the other six battleground states, with his leads in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan roughly cut in half.
On Wednesday, Rasmussen released its latest polling data of 2,500 likely voters showing a virtual tie with Trump and Biden at 45 percent and 47 percent, respectively. Rasmussen noted Trump’s approval rating stood at 49 percent, which is identical to Barack Obama’s approval rating when he easily won reelection in 2012 against the hapless Mitt Romney. Importantly, Rasmussen proved to be the most accurate pollster in 2016, so the media shouldn’t easily dismiss their surveys.
The punchline here is that, while things look good for Biden, three-and-a-half months is a long time in the era of 24-hour news, social media, and the ability of millions to scour the internet for old clips. Much can still happen to shape the 2020 election. As Fox News’s Chris Wallace observed, Trump sat down in the heat for an hour and answered every question he posed, yet Biden refuses to give any outlet such access or time and rarely takes unscripted questions from the media. With concerns about Biden’s mental capability, this refusal will only raise more and more eyebrows among the electorate.
Moreover, the ‘October Surprise’ risk would seem to fall far more heavily on Biden than Trump. After all, is there really anything more the media can throw at Trump that we haven’t already heard? As for Biden, he will have to do unscripted interviews at some point and he will have to debate Trump on three occasions for a couple of hours each time. Any major clangers and his lead could evaporate. Trump supporters are digging through media print and video clips looking for more Biden soundbites related to China, race, sex and sexual orientation, which could further cement his tone-deaf Archie Bunker persona.
In addition, the results and likely indictments from US Attorney John Durham’s investigation of the Russia-collusion inquiry are coming. Biden himself may not be indicted, but, if Durham shows that Biden knew more than he has said he knew, or that the Obama administration knowingly juiced up the Steele Dossier to go after Trump, then his standing among suburban voters could suffer.
Biden also is releasing his various policy proposals, with heavy influence coming from Bernie Sanders’s progressive people. By one count, his plans so far amount to nearly $10 trillion in new spending. Perhaps a majority of Americans will support higher spending and the tax increases, but Trump and his surrogates will make sure voters in the battleground states know what Biden has planned for them.
Lastly, the continued unrest in America’s major democratically-controlled cities, including the weekly front-page Monday news about blacks killed over the weekend by other blacks, is likely creating a deepening sense of concern among urban black and suburban voters that plays well with Trump’s safety and security position.
As Biden and other Democrats not only remain silent about the unrest and violence, but also attack Trump for trying to restore calm, the ground beneath them could shift rapidly as things develop.
Given the constant media hits and Democratic attacks he’s taken since descending the escalator in Trump Tower in July 2015, it is surprising Trump isn’t farther behind Biden in the polls. I’d rather be Biden than Trump at this point, but, if you doubt Trump’s uncanny ability to survive, Zoom call Hillary Clinton at her house in Westchester, New York, and ask her about her presidency.