If you turn on any cable network news channel you’d likely see a new general election poll being covered, and if you’re a Republican or a supporter of President Trump, the results should make you uneasy.
Despite his assertion, Trump is losing, bigly. He’s trailing Biden by almost 8% in the RealClearPolitics national polling average. He’s behind Biden by 2.3% in Ohio, 6.7% in Michigan, 6.5% in Wisconsin, 6.4% in Pennsylvania, 5% in Florida, and 2% in Arizona. He’s also barely scraping by with a 2% lead over Biden in the GOP stronghold of Texas.
What do those 7 states have in common? Trump won each of them on election day in 2016 against Hillary Clinton in what could only be described as the biggest political upset since “Dewey Beats Truman” was printed on the Chicago Daily Tribune.
It’s worth noting Trump exceeded all expectations that night. Clinton was leading Trump by more than 6% in Michigan and Wisconsin, led by almost 2% in Pennsylvania, and was in a statistical dead heat with Trump in Florida, but by some political miracle Trump squeaked by with a narrow victory in each state. While polls are generally accurate within 3%-4%, Trump had several victories well outside the margin of error. However, will lightning strike twice? Can Republicans rely on the ‘silent majority’ ignoring pollster and showing up at the ballot boxes come November? No, or at least we shouldn’t.
The election is still more than 11-weeks away. Anything can happen. The Coronavirus pandemic went from a flu across the ocean to shutting down the global economy within a few weeks. American streets across the country were blanketed by protests against police brutality and systemic racism over Memorial Day weekend.
As the cliche goes, everything is on the line in this election. It would be politically idiotic to leave anything to chance or take unnecessary risks when much safer alternative strategies can be taken. It’s political negligence for Trump to take the same bulldog approach against Biden as he did against Clinton. Storming into the room, and making his opponent’s moral shortcomings the focal point of this election will not work when voters, unlike last election, have 4-years of the Trump presidency to weigh.
Contrary to popular belief, Trump can be popular. In 5 of the 8 presidential approval polls conducted by Gallup between January 29th and May 13th, Trump was sitting proudly with a 49% approval rating. RealClearPolitics shared a similar story. That timeframe, notably between early February and late May, Trump’s aggregate approval rating was at an all time high, hitting 47.4% on April 1st. While political pundits complained about the lack of White House leadership, Americans harmed by the Coronavirus pandemic and shutdown saw their friends and family being treated, supplies delivered, and worker protection payments being made. Maybe, many thought, the media was wrong about Trump’s efforts. Trump’s popularity lasted until late May when George Floyd was tragically killed by Derek Chauvin during a botched arrest. While later body camera footage paints a different picture, political opportunists pointed to racism as the root cause of Floyd’s untimely death.
All Americans were unified against the act of police brutality depicted in the cell phone video shared across social media on May 25th, but when Leftists blamed race for the incident’s escalation and subsequent protests and riots broke out across America’s major cities, the GOP took a political beating. Republicans generally agreed to push for police reform, but these were small potatoes next to Democrat’s calls for disbanding our nation’s police departments and to disavow the entire justice system, capitalist economic model, and American values as racist. Saying no to a movement named ‘black lives matter’ carries the semantic overload making politically inactive Americans think the GOP disagrees with the catchphrase when in reality we all agree: black lives do matter!
As support for BLM skyrocketed, Trump’s reelection chances plummeted leading us to today’s massive electoral deficit. Surprisingly, throughout this rollercoaster, Trump trailed Biden from day 1. But why? A new Pew Research poll sheds light onto why that is.
The poll revealed two things: 1) Republicans love Trump, and 2) Democrats are not enjoying themselves. Biden was chosen because he’s seen as moderate, unthreatening, and electable. Enthusiasm in the Biden camp is almost nonexistent and the ideology of Democrats is creeping its way further left.
According to the poll, 59% of Republicans are satisfied with the presidential candidates, up from only 40% in 2016 whereas Democrats are equally unhappy with their choices with only 42% saying they’re satisfied with their options, down from 43% in 2016. Enthusiasm in the Democratic party is at its lowest since 1992, though Americans are more divided about the competencies of each other’s candidate than ever before. Only 8% of voters think both Biden and Trump would make a good president while 22% of Democrats and 14% of Republicans think neither would make a good president. Republicans are happier with their nominee than Democrats, fueling speculation that voter turnout could cause another underdog story for the incumbent.
While Republicans support Trump because of his leadership (23%), his stances (21%), and his values (17%), Biden supporters overwhelmingly agree on why they’re casting their ballot for the former VP… He’s not Trump. 56% of Biden supporters say they’re voting for Biden primarily because he is not Trump, which is a major problem and a great opening for the struggling president. Only 9% of voters support Biden because of his stances in an election that’s become a battle of scandals, and an abysmal 6% of voters support him because he’s for the American people.
Trump likes to portray himself as a counter puncher, a man willing and able to tell it like it is and stand up to the establishment. That’s cool and all, but only 11% of voters support him because of his personality. In the more likely scenario, voters support him in spite of it.
In fact, the polls support this theory. Of Trump supporters surveyed, 25% worry about his temperament. The other major concerns voters have – speaking without thinking (13%), his unending use of Twitter (14%) – both relate to the personality we saw back in 2015. He’s always been this. Though Republicans are more willing to overlook these flaws after seeming him push fairly conservative legislation and executive orders, independents only see the perspective painted by the media.
However, more Biden supports (15%) worry about his stances on policies than actually support him because of his stance on the issues (9%). This presents a golden opportunity for Trump to seize Biden supporters who are lukewarm at best on the Democratic hopeful.
Though 19% of likely Trump voters picked him because he’s not Biden, most of Biden’s support is because he’s not Trump, and the concerns Trump supporters have for their candidate’s electability are precisely why so much of Biden’s support is a vote for anybody but Trump.
On paper, Trump’s steller economy prior to the COVID crash, his handling of the outbreak and ensuring every governor had the resources necessary to treat patients, and most recently the historic peace agreement between Israel and the UAE are just a handful of examples of Trump’s key issue. He’s great on paper, but his Trumpiness shields his accomplishments from voters and leaves a bad taste in our mouths. Stories blasted on the front page don’t chronicle his successes, rather it’s what stupid assertion or tweet made by the president today.
The media’s not innocent. They’re all too happy to gaslight Trump until he gives them a story to run with. But Trump is the fuel to their fire. He’s willing to hand over material for left pundits to run with, regardless of whether the story is worth our time or not. If Trump could restrain his tweets, minimize his press briefing to only very pointed conversations, and stick to the teleprompter, his chances skyrocket (or at least he’d narrow in the polls). When attention is off the President’s personality, people can see the policies put forth, seperate from Trump’s asshole tendencies, are no more controversial than any other past president.
With Coronavirus still a concern, the Biden camp could not be happier to have an excuse to keep Joe out of the limelight and locked in his basement avoiding press conferences, interviews, and extended campaign speeches, keeping the media’s focus squarely on Trump, capitalizing on every stupid comment he makes and amplifying tweets into something that should matter. If Trump wants to win, he needs to shut up, put his phone on airplane mode, and focus on his and Joe Biden’s differences in policy.