There was lots of oohing and ahhing on social media yesterday, following the release of a new NBC/WSJ poll showing Joe Biden opening up a 14-point lead over Donald Trump. Are the wheels finally coming off? Is Trump headed toward not just a defeat, but a thumping that is likely to turn unified control over to the Democrats? Quite plausible. But is this individual survey sufficient to instill panic within the GOP? Probably not, for a number of reasons identified by Allahpundit:
1. It’s a poll of registered, not likely, voters. Virtually every other pollster has been focused on likely voters for weeks.
2. It’s an outlier. No other poll lately shows a lead for Biden this big, including other polls released yesterday.
3. It’s outdated. Even if it’s on the mark, this poll was conducted before Trump announced he had COVID. In 2020, when 17 blockbuster news stories happen every day, no poll is accurate for more than like 45 minutes.
4. This same pollster had Hillary Clinton up by — ta da — 14 points right around this time in 2016. How’d that race turn out?
Others have made that final point, too:
While I think Trump is in worse shape overall than 4 yrs ago, before getting to fired up about this one, worth noting that NBC/WSJ poll released 10/10/16 had Clinton up 14 points in head to head matchup 52-38. https://t.co/NkAbK3KHOh https://t.co/sLL57aYnTH— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) October 4, 2020
The 2016 race ended up collapsing on Hillary Clinton due to a variety of factors, and I think it's safe to say that the dynamics of the 2020 contest are very different than what we saw last cycle. I'm not at all convinced that Trump is getting crushed by double digits, but there are lots of reasons to believe he's losing decisively right now -- including two other new polls that peg Biden's lead at ten points or more. Then again, there are a handful of surveys that have the race much closer, like this three-point result from IBD/TIPP. What's more worrisome, I think, are two fresh state-level polls from crucial battlegrounds, each of which shows Trump fading, with lopsided disapproval of his bad debate performance last week:
"By overwhelming margins, voters in Pennsylvania and Florida were repelled by President Trump’s conduct in the first general election debate" https://t.co/bePatVb7Y0— James Pethokoukis (@JimPethokoukis) October 3, 2020
And then there are quotes like this, which would indicate that down-ballot Republicans in critical races are really starting to sweat:
Some top GOP operatives, privy to data from swing states, tell me that this week's chaotic presidential debate had a calamitous effect on Republican chances in tight Senate races. "The bottom is falling out everywhere," said a longtime Republican insider. This insider said the debate didn't faze hardcore Trumpers. But he said it turned off "open to Trump" swing voters, especially women in suburbs. "Everyone knew Trump was capable of this kind of behavior," the insider said. "But these voters had never had 90 straight minutes of that behavior thrust in their faces."
A New York Times story added, "multiple party strategists said their polling in the two nights after the presidential debate had revealed substantial slippage, and not just at the top of the ticket." Back in June, I wrote about another barrage of negative polling for Trump, and offered this analysis:
The unknowable X-factor is how the electorate will be feeling, and what people will be prioritizing, four-plus months from now. If things are getting back to quasi-normal, the incumbent could get some credit, or at least more slack. If things remain rocky, and the public is craving a healing reset, NBC/WSJ shows Joe Biden doubling Trump up on the metric of "bringing the country together."
We are now a month out from election day. Does it feel like things are "getting back to quasi-normal"? I'll leave you with the first few tweets from my thread over the weekend:
(1) The media has done a lot to crush trust and credibility, and I frequently talk about how and why that’s the case. But today isn’t on them. The shoddy WH clown show of obfuscation, misinformation & ‘clarification’ has been embarrassing and unacceptable...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) October 3, 2020
Many voters will harbor sympathy for Trump while he's ill, yet it's entirely possible that this episode will not improve his political fortunes -- and could, in fact, imperil them further. The clock is ticking.