Last updated on July 30, 2020
There’s been a peculiar disconnect in the polls in the past few months: Most people disapprove of Trump, and most of those strongly disapprove — meaning that they won’t change their minds — and most voters say they will vote for Biden. But more people have also been saying they still expect Trump to win. Until now.
Here is 538’s latest polling: Voters Are Starting To Doubt Trump’s Reelection Chances
Over the past two and a half months, the share of voters who said they expect Trump to win has fallen from about 45 percent to around 40 percent in polling by The Economist/YouGov, as the chart below shows, while Biden’s share has slowly ticked up to where Trump’s numbers are. (Roughly a fifth of respondents still say they’re “not sure.”)
But it’s not just the Economist/YouGov polling that supports this finding. USA Today/Suffolk University found a more substantial drop in Trump’s numbers. In late June, 41 percent of voters said they expected Trump to win, whereas 50 percent said the same in the pollster’s late October 2019 survey. Conversely, 45 percent said Biden would win in June, an improvement from the 40 percent who picked the Democratic nominee in October. Republican pollster Echelon Insights has also observed a downward trend in Trump’s numbers: In a survey completed last week, 33 percent of likely voters said they expected Trump to win, which was down from 39 percent in the pollster’s June survey. Meanwhile, the share who thought Biden would win ticked up to 43 percent in July from 40 percent in June.
This is as important as the Real Clear Politics polls showing Biden getting 50.5 nationally to Trump’s 41.5%. (Some show higher numbers.) And the even more important polls showing him high up in the crucial swing states. That’s because people are starting to believe that if they vote for Biden, he will win.
Greg Saregent at the WaPo picked up this story: More voters are now saying they expect Joe Biden to win. Sargent cites a number of reasons for this shift, including Trump’s incomprehensible incompetence on handling the pandemic and the civil unrest:
These have exposed Trump as an increasingly diminished, floundering figure who blusters ceaselessly but visibly is either in over his head, has zero interest in addressing these epic challenges in a constructive way (he often appears to want to exacerbate them), or both.
And Biden is doing everything right:
Meanwhile, Biden has grown steadily more visible on all these fronts in a far more constructive, unifying and empathetic manner. He’s also running a good campaign, and Trump isn’t. This contrast may be encouraging voters to start envisioning a Biden victory as a real possibility.
Another factor is that the pundit class, which up until now was pushing all sorts of narratives to try to make this a narrower contest, has discovered that smelling blood in Trump’s turbulent waters is more fun:
But now, with the former vice president boasting surprisingly large leads, many pundits have begun to dissect the weaknesses of Trump the candidate, as well as of his campaign and his strategy, particularly after Trump replaced his campaign manager. That background noise might be diminishing voters’ sense of his chances.It’s likely that these pundit dissections will get more brutal, because the actions of Trump’s own campaign are revealing in this regard.
Sargent points out that these new numbers show that Trump is losing his aura of political invincibility. That was always fake to begin with, but Trump's skills as a con man kept it going for a long while. Now it’s cracking, and that crack can — and must — become a self-fulfilling prophecy that spirals downward to a Trump-size drain.
Sargent left out a few other factors, though: First is Trump’s absolute and complete inability to change, to admit a mistake, to make a correction. Second, which Sargent mentions in passing, is Trump’s temper, his anger, his out-of-control rage. Some of his base may have enjoyed that for a while, but not when it’s killing them and their families. Third is Trump's heavy-handed attempts to put storm troopers on our streets, a move which is totally backfiring.
All that means more voters not only expect Biden to win, they hope and pray he will win. Let’s do all we can to get those numbers even higher and the vote even bigger.
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