Apparently, I have a new beat: the “don’t panic” beat. Last week, I looked at some macro trends and then some recent polling, all of which showed how good Joe Biden and the Democratic Party look heading into November. Today, I want to look at three graphs that all illustrate how well things are going.
DONALD TRUMP IS UNPOPULAR
One of the dirty secrets of public opinion is that it just doesn’t change that much. If you see a poll jumping up and down all over the place, just assume it’s bunk. People’s minds just don’t change, and that goes extra for Donald Trump.
Look at his numbers above: He is well underwater at 42-55. Prior to COVID, he was at 44-54, so we’re talking a net shift of just three points despite being on track for 200,000 dead Americans. That proves two things: 1.) that public opinion really doesn’t change, and 2.) nothing will change it back by November.
Let’s say the latest revelations that Trump called veterans “suckers” for enlisting, and that our fallen dead are “losers,” has an impact on Trump’s favorability ratings. A net shift of 1 to 2 points would be significant, and 3 points would be seismic. That’s the most you could expect from what is a bombshell story, with Trump trashing our most hallowed heroes—fallen veterans.
Now think, what could possibly happen that would allow Trump to gain back support? There is literally nothing. He can’t improve his numbers. So his only shot is to drag Biden down into the mud with him. That was President George W. Bush’s strategy in 2004, when he and his party mocked Democratic nominee John Kerry for being wounded in combat. They literally wore purple Band-Aids at their convention to laugh at Kerry. Yet with only two months to go, it’s likely too late to make headway on that front. In fact, Biden’s favorables are going up.
BIDEN’S FAVORABLE RATINGS ARE RISING
So two things immediately come to mind: 1.) Biden is more popular than Trump, and 2.) those are nice trends.
“Wait,” you are thinking, “didn’t you just say that public opinion doesn’t change?” It’s true! Biden’s numbers were artificially depressed during the primary as supporters of opposing campaigns declared him “unfavorable.” That trend line you see is Democrats, and mostly young Democrats, coming home.
To pull off the Bush 2004 strategy, Trump needed to have been dragging those numbers down by now. But apparently, his scattershot approach (Hunter Biden! Something something Ukraine! Obamagate! Sleepy Joe!) hasn’t had much effect.
DEMOCRATS, AS A PARTY, ARE STEADY STRONG
Public opinion is firmly locked on this question. For context, here is the 2018 chart:
The 2018 Civiqs tracker had Democrats winning the generic congressional ballot by 6 points. The final results? Democrats won the generic ballot by 8.6 points. So in 2018, we underestimated Democratic support. This year, we’ve made zero changes to that question, and we’re showing a larger 8-point lead. Does that mean we’re undercounting Democratic support again? Who knows! But I personally love that we’re showing an even bigger lead this time around. If nothing else, it shows that public opinion hasn’t shifted since the 2018 election, which is bad news for Republicans all around.
Support for the Democratic Party remains strong, and appears to be immune to all external events (be it the conventions, or Trump’s latest bout of ridiculousness). Donald Trump is deeply unpopular, and nothing wants to move his numbers. And 200,000 dead Americans tweaked him down a whopping net-3 points, and that was seismic, in broader context. Meanwhile, Joe Biden isn’t just more popular than Trump, but he is on an upward trajectory as he continues to rally his party around him.
Now can you see why it would be so hard for Republicans to turn this thing around?