Trump is far from winning in November
All things considered, President Trump is doing amazingly well in the polls and in the first two primary season races. There are a number of reasons for Trump and the Republican Party to feel optimistic about the November election.
Virtually all the polling gives the best numbers to Trump. He beats President Biden on age and mental acuity. He beats him on virtually all the major issues that are on the voters’ minds – the economy, inflation, immigration, crime, foreign policy. In virtually every poll, voters say they were better off under Trump than Biden.
Biden’s campaign strategy is to convince voters that the deciding issues should be Trump himself, abortion and the specious claim that America ceases to exist if Trump wins reelection. Biden & Co is also trying desperately to breathe life into his rosy narrative of the economy.
But Biden has problems with all of them. The attacks on Trump appear to have broadened his support. Biden clearly has a lock on the abortion issue, but it is not likely to be the deciding issue for most voters. Abortion works well for Democrats when on the ballot by itself, but not when competing with other major issues or candidacies.
Not only is “the end of democracy” narrative falling flat, in a recent poll, voters gave Trump the edge as the protector of democracy. Go figure. And … it seems no matter how many times a day that Team Biden tries to sell their version of the economy, the folks living in the economy are not buying it.
According to most polls, Biden is losing support from minorities and the younger voters – two of his bedrock constituencies in the 2020 election. A percentage of those are making the shift to Trump. Others are passing on voting for President. Biden’s initial support for Israel has fractured his core coalition.
In the head-to-head polling, Trump beats Biden far more often than Biden beats Trump – and this is particularly true in the so-called battleground states.
Now, that is a LOT of good news for Trump, but he should not be planning the move into the Oval Office quite yet. There are a lot of signs in the numbers and in the unfolding events to cause concern for Team Trump.
- The most obvious is time. Voter preferences tend to undulate during a campaign. There is no guarantee that any of the numbers we see today will hold up for the next nine-plus months.
- In most polls, the difference between Trump and Biden is within the margin of error AND under 50 percent. That is not a clear indication of future victory. A small shift can change everything.
- In recent years, Republicans tend to overperform in early polling – and underperform on Election Day.
- There are events – anticipated and unanticipated – that can change public opinion. The one anticipated event – or series of events — with the greatest potential impact are Trump’s trials that will or will not take place before election day. We do not know when they will take place and what the results will be – or even how the voters will react. If Trump is convicted of a felony, there are indications that he will lose critical support.
- The economy could roar, and Biden’s claims could gain gravitas with voters. That would take away one of Trump’s key advantages.
- There could be a decisive win in the Ukraine or Israeli wars or some progress in securing the border.
- While age is a problem for Biden, either of them could have a health crisis. They are both in the age of “anything can happen at any time.” Democrats are trying to convince voters that Trump is as impaired as Biden.
- It is impossible to judge at this time how many Republican voters who favored one of the Trump challengers will stay in the Republican Party on Election Day and vote for Trump. In New Hampshire, more than 30 percent of GOP primary voters said they would not vote for Trump in November.
- Trump tends to alienate himself from voters. He shrinks support rather than expanding it. He is not an easy guy to like – and likeability is important in winning elections.
And the ominous indicators for Trump go on and on. The point is that it is not possible to judge the outcome for Trump this early based on what we know now – and what the polls tell us now. But a close examination of what we DO now know – or can deduce – Trump is looking strong, but not strong enough to be assured of a return to the Oval Office.
Democrats have every reason to panic and be optimistic at the same time. But Republicans have no reason to feel euphoric.
So, there ‘tis.