Last word (not) on Biden polling numbers
The reason President Biden’s polling numbers are newsworthy is that every time they should have bottomed out, they go down further. As a preface to any analysis, we must concede two facts that the White House trumpets in response. These are only polling numbers, and it is almost a year until the election.
Yes, polling numbers are a picture of the likely voting at a moment in time – this moment. The further out from the election, the less reliable they are as a predictor of outcomes. To make any sense of polling numbers, you have to apply a rule many political analysts use. The closer the margins, the less reliable the numbers are as predictors.
So, the fact that President Trump leads Biden in several polls, the numbers are not only close, but within the highly touted “margin of error.” Even if the election were today, the polling numbers would not be reliable in predicting the winner.
What is noteworthy, however, is how well Trump is doing despite all the legal baggage and the extensive demonization of him in the media. In fact, if you checked out the polling numbers in the past, you would not have foreseen Trump’s rise as he faced an unprecedented number of serious legal cases – including federal crimes. That has been a headscratcher for a lot of political pundits – especially on the left.
We also have to keep in mind that while the election is essentially twelve months away, the campaign season – in which voters start locking in their votes – is only a few months ahead. By August, the 2024 presidential election will most likely already be decided in the minds of the voters – only to be confirmed on Election Day. That means Biden does not have as much time to change the numbers as some suggest.
With all the disclaimers, however, the polling numbers do have some relevancy – especially in the issue-oriented questions.
The first ominous fact for Biden is that his numbers have not bottomed out. In the last round of polling, they are worse than ever. Is this now the bottom, or just another waystation on the way down?
So, let us look at the new numbers. I see the NBC poll as particularly bad news for Biden. It is a poll that has a reputation for leaning a bit to the left. It is noteworthy when MSNBC’s numbers guru, Steve Kornacki, is giving very bad news to the Biden camp. But that is exactly what he has to do.
Reporting on the NBC Poll, Kornacki noted that one year ago, Biden led Trump 45 to 41 percent. Today, Trump beats Biden 47 to 43 percent. That is an eight-point shift. That is a lot of voters changing their minds. The trend is as important than the numbers.
The reason for Biden’s sinking numbers against Trump are seen in the Job Approval ratings. His overall rating is 40 percent approval and 57 percent disapproval. That is the lowest rating for Biden from all previous NBC polls.
As expected, 91 percent of Republican voters disapprove of Biden’s job performance – with only 7 percent approving. What is disturbing to team Biden are the Democrat voters’ numbers. Only 77 percent of Democrats approve of Biden’s job performance with a full 20 percent disapproving. One out of over every five Democrat voters disapprove. Ouch!
There is a general assumption that independent voters lean left. Not according to the NBC Poll. Sixty-three percent disapprove and 30 percent approve. That is a two-to-one ratio against Biden. The independent voters are more in line with Republican voters than with Democrat voters.
One of Biden’s campaign’s selling points was that his vast experience in foreign policy would be an asset. Apparently not. Two-thirds of voters disapprove of his foreign policies with only 33 percent approving. He does moderately better in handling the Hamas War but is still underwater with 56 disapproval and 34 percent approval. This needs a closer look since it appears that his slightly better numbers are coming from the right – Republicans and independents who support Israel. Biden is still facing a significant defection from Democrats on the far left.
You see Biden’s problem in the demographic response to the War. Biden carries with the 65-plus voters 53 to 41 percent – a 12-point positive gap. But with the 18 to 34 crowd, he gets 70 percent disapproval to a 20 percent approval –a 50-point negative gap. The latter is a group Biden carried comfortably in 2020.
Biden seems to suffer a greater negative impact with more alternative candidates in the race. However, it is useless to analyze that impact at this point since we do not even know who is in and who is not.
There is one ironic piece of information about alternative candidates. The “No Labels” movement has declared that they want a bipartisan ticket with a Republican heading it – assumedly to hurt Trump. So much for no labels.
While the polls are not entirely predictive at this time, they do have meaning. It means Biden is in a deeper hole than ever and we do not know if he has stopped digging. Despite the cliché, you do not dig yourself out of a hole.
So, there ‘tis.