Diary

Polls and Some Unsolicited Advice for Trump

AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin

There seems to be a lot of freaking out about presidential polls with one side screaming to ignore them and the other side predicting a Joe Biden landslide in November.  We are not even in July yet and already the alarm bells are ringing and the celebrations being planned.  There are a few points about polls that need mentioning.  First, as we discovered in 2016, political polling means squat…some of the times.  Four years ago was a perfect example.  Second, as some have mentioned, there is still time for Trump to turn things around.  Third, often it is not necessarily the poll numbers, but the trend that is most important.  In this particular case, there is no denying that the trends do not bode well for Trump.  Finally, one has to look at the actual polling outlet, their political leanings, and their past performances.

This writer examined over 273 polls because I have nothing better to do on a hot, humid Sunday morning in New Jersey.  I then averaged the polls only from 2020 starting in January to the most recent on a state-by-state basis.  Then, I assigned electoral votes to either Trump or Biden based on the averages from each state.  Finally, no electoral votes were assigned if the average was 5% or less to the advantage of either Biden or Trump.  In states where there was no polling data (8 states plus DC), I simply assigned the electoral votes to whoever won the state in 2016.  I do not think anyone can disagree that DC will go for Biden or Wyoming for Trump.

What this writer discovered is that (1) Trump has his work cut out for him, and (2) this will be no landslide for Biden.  In fact, using this system, neither candidate secures the necessary 270 electoral votes.  Further, other than the states that decided the 2016 election- Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania- only Michigan is in danger of being lost to Biden in 2020.  The other two states are very much in play.  Unfortunately for Trump, so is North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, and Ohio- five states he won in 2016.  Most importantly, although he holds the lead here, Texas also cannot be assigned their hefty electoral vote count in the Trump column just yet (and there are 16 polls out of Texas).  For Biden, Trump is still alive in Nevada and New Hampshire but their electoral votes pale in comparison to others.  That leaves an electoral vote count of 239-116 in Biden’s favor (mainly because of New York and California).

So what is Trump to do?  He has all the advantages of incumbency, the White House, and the power of his office to reverse or at least stabilize the trend line.  Biden has his basement and cannot hide forever.  Outlets like CNN and others can refuse coverage, but it may be helpful if Trump held a weekly news conference, or one every two weeks.  More people will watch a Trump news conference than a Biden podcast cluster-f***.  He can continue to schedule rallies and play to his base- which he is not going to lose- but must also move those fence sitters to his side.  How does he do it?  By (1) focusing on policy- one rally dedicated to one concern of the electorate like health care or jobs, and (2) occasionally going off script- what people come to see- to attack Joe Biden as concerns the policy message.  Along the lines of focusing on policy, there should be a little less boasting and a little more substance.  And third, there must be an overarching theme to his campaign besides “I want another four years.”

I believe it was front page writer Elizabeth Vaughn (correct me if I’m wrong) who laid out rather specifically what a Biden presidency would look like for America.  Trump’s campaign people need to use that as a template and hammer away at it to convince the American voters what the option to Donald Trump would be.  To steal a phrase from William F. Buckley, Trump must position himself as standing athwart the radical vision being put forth by the Democrats and convince the people that he is the only person standing in the way of that vision.

As others have written here, there is plenty of time to turn the polls around.  Trump does not need the popular vote victory and there is a path to that victory without, for example, Michigan.  All he needs is 270 electoral votes and, quite frankly, people on the other side should put the cork back in the champagne bottle and another one in their mouths.