Biden Poll Numbers Lag In Key Demographics In Key States Like Georgia

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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  1. Saul Degraw
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    says:

    The Constitution and polling are broken. So are how people view politics. In 2016, the GOP was only able to accomplish some tax cuts because they had a slim majority in the House and Senate. They could not even kill the ACA.

    The Senate is obviously an anachronism that has outlived its time where one or two individual members that care about their own standing in the institution over any actual legislation or the party can ruin anything. Manchin is deluded and thinks he can win reelection in 2024 if he does this and/or he is just stuck thinking like a 1990s Democrat in the era of triangulation. Sinema is an enigma and disappointment. An allegedly radical Green who became a radical centerist and she votes against her campaign promises. Mark Kelly on the other hand is just a bog standard Democrat and he had the same margin of error victory of McSally in 2020. At best, she thinks she can win with independents but no one seems to know what she wants.

    That being said, it is still only 2021 and I am not sure that the typical rules of horserace punditry will apply in 2022 or 2024. The Republican Party primaries in many places are a race to see who can say the craziest thing on twitter and/or in public. The prime example is the constant beclowning between Vance and Mandel in Ohio. This might give Democrats opportunities. I also think that the media in its myopia and own stuck in its folkways part really, really underestimates how pissed many Americans are at COVIDidiots in the GOP. Does everyone remember when the media felt like Newsom was going to lose the recall but it ended up with the recallers getting crushed? The final vote had nearly eight million people voting against recall or nearly 62 percent of the total vote. Yes, California is a blue state but a lot of people voted against recall because they saw the GOP response on COVID as being absolutely nuts.

    So his polling is down but it is not a rocket slide and President’s have seen their polling go down and recover.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw
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      Why is polling broken?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Sam Wang, probably.Report

      • North in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Pollsters seem to have a very strong difficulty with identifying and getting reliable responses from Trump supporters. Polls have skewed distinctly leftward in the last cycle or so. How that helps currently, though, is beyond me.

        Best bet for the Dems is to simply pass what they can get their caucus to agree on and then actually campaign on it.Report

        • JS in reply to North
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          says:

          Well, they did in 2016. And 2020. But not 2018. And not 2021 (the GA special elections).

          My only working idea on that is it’s not Republicans or conservatives that are hard to poll, but “Trump Republicans/Conservatives”.

          That is, the people Trump personally activated and who turned out to vote just for him. They voted for his party down-ticket, if they show up, but they only seem to come out of the woodwork if he’s on the ticket.

          Not one race, between 2017 and 2020 showed the same sort of skew.

          Maybe it’ll keep showing up every Presidential election — that can’t be ruled out. But it’s strange not to see it even in high profile elections (the 2018 mid-terms weren’t low-profile, and the GA special elections were high profile as heck. And Democrats massively IMPROVED there over three months, despite the stakes for Republicans and all the screaming from Trump about elections being stolen).

          It does make polling a lot more questionable. Nobody really has any firm ability to poll these question mark voters, no way to really assess their turnout models or their reliability.

          The only pollsters even roughly close in 2020 were the outfits that routinely showed massively more Republican results every election. That they got it right once doesn’t really instill me with confidence that they found the secret sauce here, given how off they were every other election. Stopped clock situation.Report

          • Dark Matter in reply to JS
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            says:

            This might mean that Trump has always been about +5% more popular than we’ve thought.Report

            • JS in reply to Dark Matter
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              says:

              Maybe, maybe not.

              It’s really hard to tell. Are these people difficult to poll in general? Or just for voter screens?

              Polling general popularity is dirt easy and doesn’t need a lot of weighting, as long as you can make your sample look roughly like your country across all main demographics. You’ve got the census data and plenty of other data to work that out.

              Election polling, however, starts getting into the weeds when you start weighting for likely voters over registered voters. That not only is double level polling (you’re not just polling people on who they plan to vote for, you’re weighting that from OTHER polls trying to determine who has or plans to vote, and how likely they are to vote) but also often historically weighted to past turn-out patterns.

              And then to make it WORSE this all happened in a once-in-a-century pandemic, where voting patterns were pretty weird. In some places it was far easier to vote, in others harder, and in others election day was super easy but early voting was crowded….

              In short while “approval rating” and “election polling” aren’t apples and oranges, they’re not two apples either. There’s a big enough difference that saying “if X on one, then X on the other” is a huge leap.

              Especially when you have no idea what the heck X is anyways.

              What if the 2020 X-factor was, in fact, simply a failure in the LV screens? Trump mobilized lots of irregular and non-voters, that’s well known. Your overall polling could be fairly accurate, but if your LV screens underestimated Trump turnout, then your weighting is all wrong — and so are your results compared to the actual election.

              And it was an incredibly high turnout election on both sides, which tends to cause problems with the LV screens anyways.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to JS
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                says:

                I would feel more comfortable with the “it’s hard” argument if we hadn’t had so many “Trump has a 0% chance of winning” predictions in 2016 which in 2017 looked a lot like anti-Trump wishful thinking and group think.

                That seems like the sort of thing which is going to affect more than just the election polling.Report

          • North in reply to JS
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            says:

            Yeah I think you’ve outlined the conundrum succinctly, though that still bodes ill for the midterms since polling has proven predictive for them and current polling is gruesome. The only silver lining is that polling this far out is also non-predictive and we’ll have to wait to see what things look like closer to the actual election.

            But I sure as fish would like it if the polling looked better than it looks now.Report

            • JS in reply to North
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              Who wouldn’t? I’m not expecting Democrats to have a good night in 2022. The only silver lining is the re-districting didn’t really hurt them as badly as expected.

              Mostly because the GOP is pretty tapped out on that. The places they can gerrymander can’t really be pushed any harder (such as Texas) so they’re just gerrymandering to hold onto what they have (which is far below their high water mark) for as long as they can.

              Democrats, by and large, are in the same boat — except they’ve pushed through a lot of non-partisan and independent redistricting processes in plenty of states, so they have fewer states they can even gerrymander that effectively.

              A lot depends on COVID and any recovery from that. It’s sucking up a lot of oxygen at the moment.

              The other critical question is Trump — and Trumpism — and how it plays out in 2022. Bluntly, the cover band is never as good as the original — so I don’t think DeSantis or MTG or Abbot or anyone else trying to replace Trump is going to be able to do the job as well. But they’re certainly drawing attention trying.

              I can see that playing out anywhere from them getting the bulk of Trump voters in a fairly high-turnout election (“Wasn’t it all great before Biden and COVID and Pelosi?”) while Democrats comfort themselves that Trump isn’t on the ballot and Biden’s still in the White House, and stay home, generally unexcited and uncaring. (Which is, sadly, plenty of mid-term elections for Democrats).

              The flip side is the risk that the GOP reminds Democrats of what they dislike most about Trump, driving them to higher turnout — while failing to inspire Republicans like Trump did. I find that really unlikely, but….

              I’m from Texas, and I’m watching Abbot push away tons of his own supporters in favor of his rabid base. In a state that was never particularly pro-Trump (check Trump’s vote share in Texas versus Romney or McCain’s. That’s not ALL passage of time).

              I can’t rule it out, because Abbot is clearly terrified of Allen West (currently hospitalized with COVID and eating horse paste, no kidding) and losing his primary, and is…out-Trumping Trump trying to head it off.

              Burned bridges can be rebuilt, but Abbot’s got to stop lighting them on fire and that seems…unlikely.

              So I can’t rule out totally Democrats avoiding a massive bloodbath solely because of, well….Trump fallout? Changing GOP priorities? Call it what you will.

              I don’t think the risk to the GOP is high….but it’s there.Report

              • North in reply to JS
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                Yeah but if Trumps influence is mostly absent in non-Presidential elections then that suggests his malign influence on the GOP’s fortunes will likely be muted as well. But you and I agree, really, and we’re just sitting here trying to have a stiff upper lip.

                And, really, it doesn’t matter that much. The lesson Democrats should take is that they should pass policies they think will help people and they’ll be happy to campaign on and then campaign on them. The ACA was a political bust in the short term but it’s proven to be popular and durable. Majorities wax and wane every cycle but policy moves a lot more slowly and the GOP as it currently (barely) exists has proven itself constitutionally incapable of doing much beyond cutting taxes and even that only if it’s deficit financed.Report

              • JS in reply to North
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                says:

                “Yeah but if Trumps influence is mostly absent in non-Presidential elections then that suggests his malign influence on the GOP’s fortunes will likely be muted as well”

                Abbot is showing that Trump might be waning, but Trumpism is not.

                The question is whether it can prosper as much absent Trump.

                Historically…not so much. And again, Trump is a more polarizing figure than, say, Reagan or Kennedy.

                He didn’t pull across party lines — he divided them up more firmly, mobilizing slightly more voters against him than for him.

                So what happens when you have someone trying to be Trump 2.0? As I said, there were plenty of attempts to find the next Reagan or Kennedy, as both parties went all-in on those politicians and their approaches. The GOP slowly withered after Reagan, for instance, clinging to the same moves — with less and less success — until Trump came along.

                In an ideal world, Trump 2.0 would try to marshal those same voters, turn out those same voters — while minimizing the backlash from everyone else. “Be Trump, without all the baggage”.

                But, judging by what actual conservative politicians are doing (those that aren’t being driven out of office by Trump supporters. Including elections officials in heavy GOP districts where Trump won massively. Why? No idea, but apparently they’re so mad they hate even GOP election officials. Even when Trump won) — those very officials, those politicians whom one would expect know conservatives and the GOP base far better than I would (filthy liberal that I am)….

                They’re not just embracing the baggage. They’re enhancing it. They clearly believe that what motivates Trump voters WAS the baggage. To get those voters requires angering the others.

                So I look at DeSantis and think “What’s your plan? To go into 2024, having turned Trumpism up to 11, and hope you do BETTER than Trump for GOP turnout?” because everything he’s doing indicates he’s ALSO turning up to 11 everything that drove Democratic turnout against Trump. And Trump’s turnout wasn’t enough.

                I don’t think Abbot, or DeSantis, or any of a handful of other prominent Republicans moving towards Trumpism are too dumb to understand that. MTG maybe — can’t tell if cultist, grifter, or crazy. But Abbot? DeSantis? They’re realists to an extent.

                Which means they clearly think this is necessary to win the primaries. Despite the fact that Trump pretty clearly proved in 2020 that it wasn’t enough to win.

                They’re obviously hoping voter suppression, moves to increase voter apathy, and other such things can minimize the blowback — and maybe they’re right.

                But what they’re showing conclusively is they can’t go back to dog-whistles. They have to scream it out loud, undeniably, for their base. And the downside of that, well….there’s a reason the term “dog-whistle” exists in politics!

                All that said, most of that is fairly immaterial in the 2022 mid-terms unless someone decides to make themselves the face of it sufficiently. That’s…unlikely. I mean every mid-term the party with the WH tries to find someone to hang the election on (Pelosi, for instance), someone to muster up that national focus that happens in Presidential years. It doesn’t work very often.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to JS
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                says:

                Without Covid, Trump would have crushed whoever he ran against in 2024.

                There’s also an argument that if he were just a little bit less of an *** or a little bit more competent he would have done better.

                It’s easy to see why an outsider might think he could copy but one up Trump.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                There’s also an argument that if he were just a little bit less of an *** or a little bit more competent he would have done better.

                Any day now Trump will pivot to being more Presidential . . .

                Trump is consistently who he is. There is nothing that will change decades of his approach. Even pending jail time from the many investigations concurrently running against him will not slow him down.

                Which means anyone wanting to replace him in the Republican hierarchy needs to out-Trump Trump.Report

              • JS in reply to Dark Matter
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                says:

                “Without Covid, Trump would have crushed whoever he ran against in 2024.”

                I mean sure, if you just want to wholly invent things and declare them the truth. We can all play! Without COVID Trump would have, I dunno, declared war on the Beatles and lost the election because of it.

                “There’s also an argument that if he were just a little bit less of an *** or a little bit more competent he would have done better.”

                Again, that’s the assumption that the baggage wasn’t the draw.

                The main players in the GOP — the guys with skin in the game and a burning desire to be President in 2025, and the past accomplishments to prove they’re at least competing on that level, disagree.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Polling in 2021 does not indicate how things will be in 2022 or 2024. Almost all Presidents suffer downward trends in polling around this time in their Presidencies and the polling seems in service of creating a horserace rather than actively looking into policy because policy is hard and boring. Horseraces are fun and interesting.Report

        • dhex in reply to Saul Degraw
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          says:

          you should consider following david shor on twitter for a contra view on polling’s worth (when properly constructed, etc etc etc etc many caveats apply) in terms of understanding populations on well-formulated and clear questioning.

          (on the other hand, it’s also likely better to never look at twitter ever.)

          that said, shor may not make you feel better about stuff. his pragmatism *really* irritates people who are looking for a backrub and boost-me-up. i dislike about 50% of his policy prescriptions but they’re likely closer to 80%+ copacetic for you, so less risk of cognitive dissonance.

          “I also think that the media in its myopia and own stuck in its folkways part really, really underestimates how pissed many Americans are at COVIDidiots in the GOP.”

          i feel like i read this story at least 2x week in the washington post (i’m a subscriber but never read the op eds because yeeesh). it shows up more frequently in the times, though not in its morning newsletter, which tends to be a lot more pragmatic and less ideologically-minded than the front page. (also never read op eds because super yeeeeesh no thanks)

          regardless, you should do a blue checkmark surf on twitter. this is like 70% of the convo for media folk on that platform. (and almost all of them are on it)Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to dhex
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            says:

            I’ve read Shor. His basic stance seems like it can be boiled down to, Democrats would do better if they embraced Herrenvolk democracy but that is rather odious.Report

  2. Chip Daniels
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    says:

    This is the McConnel strategy. If the Democratic administration can be obstructed to frustrate progress, the result can be blamed on Democrats to ensure a Republican victory.

    He can do this because the Republican base really has no agenda outside of power.Report

  3. North
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    says:

    It certainly looks bleak polling wise. I remain mildly positive. The noise coming out of congress is that Pelosi is trying to steer the party towards doing fewer things well (rather than doing many things haphazardly) in the reconciliation bill and I think that is the correct choice. I remain hopeful that the party will figure out what the compromise position is and pass both it and the infrastructure bill which would set up Bidens tenure as being quite productive by modern presidential standards. Also, Afghanistan appears to have utterly vanished from the national psyche, as I expected it would, and we are out now so that’s a plus.Report

    • Philip H in reply to North
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      says:

      If the Compromise of 2021 focuses on Manchin, he’s been clear since July that he’s at $1.5T for the reconciliation bill and $1.5T for the stand alone infrastructure bill. He can’t go up on either and save face. He MIGHT budge a bit on reconciliation if his voting bill goes down in flames, but I’m not hopeful. I don’t see a compromise with Sinema, or Republicans at all.

      And agree on Afghanistan – the how really isn’t important to Americans because we got out. Which Biden correctly surmised was the important part.Report

      • North in reply to Philip H
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        I have to presume that once Manchin settles on a number and outline Sinema will fall in line because a) what the fish will she claim to be her beef once she’s the lone opponent and b) it’s just too depressing to imagine she’d torpedo the process because the voices in her head told her to.

        Assuming that you and I are correct, a 3 trillion dollar result from infrastructure and reconciliation, paired with the money that already came out in the relief bill, is a historic amount of productivity by congressional standards. It’s not what liberals or leftists want, obviously, but it isn’t nothing.Report

        • Philip H in reply to North
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          says:

          Its not. And putting that money into play outside DC before the midterms will help boost Democrats, assuming they have a story that rebukes the Republicans who will vote against the bill but crow about all the money that is coming to their districts.

          My worry is if Manchin gets this deal he will think he can do the same thing on other stuff that needs less negotiation, particularly with Republicans. Remember he’s still trying to convince us all he has 10 Republican votes for his substitute watered down voting rights bill.Report

          • North in reply to Philip H
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            I don’t worry about that for a simple reason: we know for a fact that the non-watered down voting rights bill has zero (0) Republican votes and thus zero (0) chance of becoming law. If Manchin somehow manages to finagle ten Republican votes and the bill he manages to do it with doesn’t contain poison pills that’d make Democrats tank it then it’d remain more than the nothing we currently are looking at getting on voting rights.Report

            • Philip H in reply to North
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              says:

              He doesn’t have ten votes. He won’t get ten votes. Everyone but him knows this.Report

              • North in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                Ok, so Manchin goes out, can’t get ten votes, probably can’t even get one vote, then feels a bit less charitable towards the GOP/filibuster and nothing else happens. Or he somehow gets some votes and some crumb gets passed. Win/win really. Not something to fear as far as I can see. There isn’t really an opportunity cost for letting Manchin do this stuff.Report

              • Philip H in reply to North
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                says:

                Manchin doesn’t get ten votes. He waters down the voting right bill even further and tries again. He doesn’t get ten votes. So he ditches it entirely and announces he won’t vote for any voting rights bill because he won’t nuke the filibuster to save Democrats from themselves down the road, and he’s really really disappointed his Republican colleagues won’t do their duty.

                And all those viscious voting suppression laws in Republican held states stand.

                There are huge, democracy destroying opportunity costs to letting him and Sinema keep this up.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                all those viscious voting suppression laws in Republican held states stand.

                How much of the vote are we talking about? Half a percent? Less? And how much of that less than half a percent would go for team blue? Two thirds?

                There are huge, democracy destroying opportunity costs to letting him and Sinema keep this up.

                What would Trump have done without the filibuster? You’re sure the answer is “nothing”?

                That micro-fraction would totally going to be worth handing him that kind of power?Report

              • North in reply to Dark Matter
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                Trump couldn’t even repeal the ACA via reconciliation (McCain bailed his party out by killing that turkey). I don’t think Trump could have accomplished anything with the filibuster gone because the right doesn’t really have a lot it actually wants to do in terms of substantive policy.

                But the argument somewhat holds water when talking about a future competent and malevolent Republican successor. This assumes, of course, they wouldn’t abolish the filibuster themselves if it was in their way which is nonsensical but it’s still a little something.Report

              • North in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                *shrug* You assume Manchin (I think Sinema could be pushed if she was alone) can be “forced” to do anything which I don’t think is the case. He’s too old, too close to retirement, too stubborn and from too red a state to be pushed around.Report

              • JS in reply to North
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                says:

                Manchin can’t be forced, but he’s easy to buy out and in the end will vote with the party if his arm is twisted enough.

                Sinema, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a price. Or goal.

                As best I can tell, she’s bucking the bill entirely to prove she’s a “maverick” and “independent”.

                A very bad misreading of McCain’s tactics and her own state and party.

                She’s unlikely to be able to be bought, but she might end up simply become irrelevant. She’s almost certainly bought herself a very tough primary, and certainly imperiled her general election prospects.

                And convincing her is fairly difficult, as she does not appear to want anything or have any reason other than to showcase her independent from the party.

                Threatening her might work, if Schumer plays heavy hardball, but I doubt he’d go far enough to make a threat she’d take seriously, and I don’t think the outcome would be all that great.Report

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