November 6, 2019

Swing State Polls

President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College. Across the six closest states that went Republican in 2016, he trails Joe Biden by an average of two points… [and] leads Elizabeth Warren by two points among registered voters, the same margin as his win over Hillary Clinton in these states three years ago.” New York Times

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From the Left

The left is concerned by the polls but cautions that there is still a year before the election.

“The key takeaway isn’t that one Democrat is likely to win and another is likely to lose. It’s that the Democratic candidate, whoever it is, needs a convincing strategy for winning at least some of the battleground states that Trump carried last time…

Paying attention to working-class white voters doesn’t necessarily mean tempering progressive policy proposals like raising taxes on the rich, tackling political corruption, providing universal day care, and guaranteeing health care to everyone. Sanders supports all of these things, and the Times poll showed him leading Trump by two points in Michigan. An anti-establishment, spread-the-wealth stance that emphasizes bread-and-butter issues can elicit broad popular support.”
John Cassidy, The New Yorker

“Democrats won in 2018 by running a smartly populist campaign, focused on reducing health care costs and helping ordinary families. The candidates avoided supporting progressive policy dreams that are obviously unpopular, like mandatory Medicare and border decriminalization. The 2020 presidential candidates are making a grave mistake by ignoring the lessons of 2018… They can still support all kinds of ambitious progressive ideas — a wealth tax, universal Medicare buy-in and more — without running afoul of popular opinion…

“But if they’re going to do that, they also need to signal in other ways that they care about winning the votes of people who don’t consider themselves very liberal.”
David Leonhardt, New York Times

Some note that “Warren’s reward for having persuaded Iowa voters and ‘high-information’ Democrats nationally that she’s not too shrewish or extreme to be president is that she now gets to try to make that same case to a much larger audience…

“As the Times’ poll illustrates, the Electoral College divides this audience in such a way that Democrats are at a disadvantage even when the Republican candidate is nationally unpopular, and as the reaction to the Times’ poll illustrates, this disadvantage (and memories of 2016) have put many Democratic voters into a permanent state of second-order skittishness, afraid that the act of liking a candidate, through quantum MAGAtanglement, will cause a 58-year-old self-employed electrician named Dwayne Kowalcyzki in Bay City, Michigan, to hate that candidate.”
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate

Others argue that “Drawing a four-hour selfie line in New York does not equate to winning Michigan… Warren is running by spurning even moderate Democrats, promising to ‘fight’ rather than compromise and insisting (along with Sanders) on the most radical health-care plan ever proposed by a major-party nominee. In making herself the champion of progressives and showing disdain for those who favor incremental change, she is turning off precisely the voters she would need in precisely the states that matter… Democrats cannot nominate a candidate with less appeal than Clinton in key swing states, or they will lose. Period.”
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“Biden’s name brand has given him a head start with the half of the Democratic electorate that has moderate or conservative views. But it’s much harder for a newer moderate Democrat lacking that established identity to build a national constituency. The only avenue that has seemed to be open for a candidate to break into the top has been to excite activists, who are demanding positions far to the left of the median voter…

“Warren and Sanders are still close enough to Trump that they can compete, and new events, like a recession or another scandal, could erode Trump’s base. But the party should look at its position a year before the election with real fear.”
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right sees the polls as good news for Trump and bad news for Warren’s electability in the general election.

The right sees the polls as good news for Trump and bad news for Warren’s electability in the general election.

“In a nutshell, none of the big three Democratic contenders look like a slam dunk in the six states most likely to determine the 2020 election: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Biden does best, but his leads are one to two percentage points – hardly a safe bet… If you’re a Democrat who has nagging doubts about the big three, maybe it’s time to take one last long look at Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar or Cory Booker as some sort of consensus candidate… Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s still running, maybe the party should give a second look to the guy who’s figured out how to win in a red state?”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“This [poll] seems to confirm all the worst suspicions of Warren skeptics in the party that she’d fall short against Trump just as Clinton did. It’s practically a Joe Biden campaign commercial… [But] even Mr. Electable is only a point or two ahead of Trump where it counts… Meanwhile, Biden, Warren, and Sanders all fall short of Clinton’s advantage with black and Latino voters, with Warren more than 10 points behind Hillary’s pace in both groups…

If this is how [Trump is] polling in the middle of an impeachment inquiry, imagine how he might do once it’s a distant memory, as it will be by spring. Having been given four years to study Trump’s many weaknesses and correct their mistakes from the 2016 election, Democrats might not do any better in the electoral college this time.”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

“In a time of relative domestic stability and prosperity, Warren's radicalism undercuts the easiest and most obvious case against Trump. The country may be tired of constant chaos in the White House, but if the alternative is planned chaos that will destroy your retirement savings, then suddenly those Twitter tirades become a lot easier to stomach. The clock is ticking down to the Iowa caucuses… If Democrats are serious about taking down Trump, they would be wise to coalesce around Biden. They nominate Warren at their own peril.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“Union workers ditched Hillary, but they did not suddenly become Republicans… Many of them were self-described moderate, blue-collar workers who had grown tired of depending on labor unions and were looking for economic reform… Someone like Biden can still win them back. Warren, on the other hand, faces the same problems Clinton did in 2016. The Times poll suggests voters question Warren’s ‘likeability’ and have concerns about her ideology and gender…

“The 2020 election is still more than a year away. If there’s one thing we should have learned from 2016, it’s not to count our chickens before they’ve hatched. But Warren’s campaign is gaining traction, and Biden’s is lagging behind. If recent and past polls are any indicator, a disenchanted blue-collar voter base, faced with a Warren candidacy, might just hand Trump a second term.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“It’s useful to consider where President Barack Obama was at this point in his first term: His approval rating in the RCP average hit a low of 42.5 percent in early October 2011. His net-approval rating held steady throughout that fall at around negative nine. But when his 2012 reelection campaign rolled around and he faced GOP nominee Mitt Romney in the general election, those numbers didn’t much matter, because in the individual states that determined the contest, he still enjoyed broad support

“Based on this latest polling, Trump’s support in battleground states seems to have held steady, and at this stage of the race, that’s an indication that the contest will be close regardless of his national popularity.”
Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

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