A Look at Polls During the Lull

Robert Brooks Contributor
A Look at Polls During the Lull
Read Time: approx. 3:45

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A Look at Polls During the Lull: Now that the conventions are over and the first presidential debate isn’t until September 29th, we’re heading into a bit of a campaign lull, at least from a calendar standpoint. Of course, every 24-hour news cycle will bring new headlines that we couldn’t have imagined possible every day until then, but in the meantime voters and political voices alike will be keeping an eye on polling data. According to RealClearPolitics’ average, Joe Biden is currently leading President Donald Trump on a national level by a spread of 6.2 points. However, just yesterday an analyst from JPMorgan said investors should position for the rising odds of Trump winning re-election. Betting odds that earlier had Trump well behind Biden are now nearly even—largely due to the impact on public opinion of violence around protests (something we discussed yesterday), as well as potential bias in polls, said strategist Marko Kolanovic. With that in mind, here’s a deeper dive into polling data, and how it’s being perceived by both sides:

On the RightSharyl Attkisson writes for Just The News that there are “Four little-noticed trends that suggest Trump could have an edge in November.” As JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic mentions above, betting odds are increasingly favoring Trump: “Gamblers are giving Biden the edge over Trump: 50.7% to 48.3%,” Attkisson writes. “But a look at the trend line shows a large decline for Biden and a comeback for Trump from just 30 days ago. On Aug. 1, the odds were 61% for Biden and 36.4% for Trump.” Secondly, Trump’s performance in battleground states is better now than it was in 2016. To be clear, “with the exception of North Carolina, which is a virtual tie, the RealClearPolitics average shows Biden ahead in every other key battleground state.” However, “The concern for the Biden camp comes with a comparison to 2016. Although Trump is on the losing end right now, his position is actually slightly ahead of where he was in the battleground states in 2016. Explained another way: Hillary Clinton was beating Trump more in the battleground states in 2016 than Joe Biden is now — and we know Trump actually won in 2016.” Third on the list is Trump’s total approval. “Judging by the news coverage and social media, it would be easy to conclude that Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents of all time. However, Rasmussen Reports, the only polling organization that publishes Trump’s job approval ratings on a daily basis, finds the 45th president is not nearly as unpopular as it may seem. His total approval among likely voters frequently bests that of President Obama at the same point in his presidency.” Last, but not least, Attkisson cites Trump’s “Favorability Ratings”. Again, it’s about comparing 2020 to 2016: “For the past year, Biden has, without exception, bested Trump in favorability ratings. Right now, Biden is significantly ahead of Trump, by 13.2 points. The concern for the Biden team comes with a comparison to 2016, when Hillary Clinton was, likewise, ahead of Trump every single day — but often by a bigger margin. And Trump won, in the end. RealClearPolitics tracking shows Trump has spent most of the past year in a better position than he was in 2016.”

On the LeftJack Brewster of Forbes says not so fast. “Any slight uptick in favor of President Trump post-convention appears to have been temporary, as new polling shows Joe Biden maintaining a lead in five key battleground states, and gaining an edge in the traditionally red state of Arizona.” Brewster writes that “In Arizona, which went to Trump by more than 3 points in 2016 and hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since former President Bill Clinton in 1996, Biden has jumped out to a 10-point lead, after trailing Trump by 2 points in the state in a separate Morning Consult poll taken earlier in August.” In other battleground states, Biden is also performing well. “A new poll from Morning Consult — conducted August 21-30 in a survey of 17,813 likely voters — shows Biden ahead of Trump in Florida by 2 points, Michigan by 10 points, North Carolina by 2 points, Pennsylvania by 4 points, and Wisconsin by 9 points.” Harry Enten of CNN echoes Brewster saying, “The first polls taken after the Democratic National Convention seems like ‘mission accomplished’ for the Democrats.” Enten points out that “The good news for Biden comes in the form of favorability ratings. A new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows that Biden’s net favorability rating (favorable – unfavorable) is up compared to before the conventions.” Enten concedes that “Biden’s biggest issue has been a lack of enthusiasm for his own candidacy.” However, “If the new polling is any indication, Biden may be locking down the voters who were for him. In that case, it’s going to be much more difficult for Trump to overcome his deficit given Biden’s already over 50%.” Lastly, NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Ben Kamisar and Melissa Holzberg wrote on August 31st that “Third party voters from 2016 are backing Biden 2-to-1.” Compared to four years ago “this year’s presidential contest features a smaller third-party vote than four years ago, and Gary Johnson/Jill Stein voters from 2016 are breaking more toward Joe Biden than they are Donald Trump,” the authors write. It matters because in states like Pennsylvania, which Trump won in 2016 by 44,292 votes, there were 196,656 Johnson/Stein voters. If Biden wins that third party by a 2-to-1 margin it reverses that outcome.”

Flag This: Okay so what about down-ballot races? Well in the House, “Democrats lead Republicans on the generic congressional ballot 48.3 percent to 41 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. The House majority has not flipped during a presidential election year since 1952. The odds of the GOP re-taking the House as a statistical long shot,” James Bikales writes for The Hill. In spite of the uphill battle, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, predicted that the GOP will take back the House in November because Democrats “have failed to keep the promises they made to voters in 2018” when they won the House majority. The Senate, on the other hand, is a closer race. According to the Pew Research Center, “This year, 35 Senate seats are at stake – 33 regularly scheduled elections, plus special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Republicans hold 23 of those seats, while Democrats, including two independents who caucus with them, hold 12. Given the current 53-47 split in the Senate, Democrats would need a net gain of four seats – or three if the Biden-Harris ticket wins the White House – to take control of the chamber.” And finally, we’ll leave you with two interesting thought pieces from both sides that we came across while researching this piece. The first revolves around state houses. Democrats lost nearly 1,000 state legislative seats while Obama was in office. Under Trump, they’ve won back almost half. Can they close the gap this November? Joan Walsh takes a look at this for The Nation. On the right, Stephen Miller of The Spectator zooms out and asks, “Have the Democrats learned nothing in four years?” Here’s his piece titled, “2016 all over again.