This survey of Hawkeye State voters wasn't lumped in with the New York Times' infographic about their latest state-level polling yesterday, presumably because Iowa isn't considered a top-tier battleground this cycle. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by nearly ten points in 2016, so if Iowa swings the other way in 2020, it'll likely be part of an anti-Trump blowout. Put another way, it would be news if Trump were trailing in the state. According to the NYT/Siena data, he's not, although Grandpa Joe once again gives Democrats their best shot:
Iowa General Election Matchup:— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) November 4, 2019
Trump 45 (+1)
Trump 47 (+3)
Trump 45 (+4)
Trump 47 (+7)
Siena College/New York Times Upshot Pollhttps://t.co/AHPiey7rUI
As we saw in the other data, Joe Biden appears to be the toughest general election foe for the incumbent, whereas Elizabeth Warren offers the clearest path to re-election. She's not quite down by Hillary levels here, but she's close. Meanwhile, here's some perspective on this blockbuster data dump, which has liberals whispering amongst themselves about Trump's surprising potential viability, and what to do about it:
The differences between Biden's performance vs Trump and Warren/Bernie's is about the same in those Upshot state polls as in most other polls this year.— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) November 4, 2019
It looks a lot bigger because, in most other polls, all the leading Dems have big leads, and they don't in the Upshot polls.
'Undecideds' in these states are heavily inclined toward Trump, it seems, with Trump outperforming his generic support when paired with actual opponents:
As you can deduce, a disproportionate share of the voters undecided about how they'll vote on the generic ballot wind up selecting trump-trump-trump against the specific opponents. (Note he's at 44-46 on named ballots, but stuck here at 38-44)— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) November 4, 2019
And right on cue, following yesterday's post about Warren's bonkers healthcare 'plan,' some real talk from an influential lefty writer:
“The poll contains substantial evidence that Trump’s party lost the midterms [because] R’s took unpopular positions, especially on health care, and ceded the center. Rather than learn the lesson, Dems instead appear intent on ceding it right back to them.” https://t.co/bfMZMj7neX— Sarah Longwell (@SarahLongwell25) November 4, 2019
Question, though: Aren't head-to-heads pretty much useless at this early stage? Well, we're at least within one year of the election now, and the Times story adds this: "But on average over the last three cycles, head-to-head polls a year ahead of the election have been as close to the final result as those taken the day before. The stability of the president’s approval rating is a reason to think this pattern might hold again for fourth cycle." I'm still skeptical and believe much is fluid. Then again, if you want to believe that head-to-heads are predictive when they support your candidate, but aren't when they don't, then you're engaged in wish-casting. The Times analysis notes that the types of voters who'd accept Biden, but not Warren, over Trump are well-educated moderates who disproportionately reside in districts that flipped from Mitt Romney to Hillary Clinton between 2012 and 2016. Allahpundit also makes these points about the timing and significance of the new polls:
Bear in mind that this poll was conducted over the last two weeks of October, before she rolled out a preposterous Medicare for All plan that’s taking hits from all sides...Polls rarely influence voter preferences but the Times has a longer reach than most media does, and this one seems to confirm all the worst suspicions of Warren skeptics in the party that she’d fall short against Trump just as Clinton did. It’s practically a Joe Biden campaign commercial.
On one hand, beware two-way polls that add up to 100 percent. That's not how voters vote. And for what it's worth, Emerson has Trump trailing badly in Michigan (although, again, best positioned against Warren). On the other hand, also via AP: "If this is how he’s polling in the middle of an impeachment inquiry, imagine how he might do once it’s a distant memory, as it will be by spring. Having been given four years to study Trump’s many weaknesses and correct their mistakes from the 2016 election, Democrats might not do any better in the electoral college this time." Still, if any Trump backers are tempted toward triumphalism, recall that the latest Fox News poll gives Biden a double-digit national lead, which would be absolutely insurmountable.