The Polls Are Likely Right; The Conclusions? Not So Much
The hashtag "#Trump41" has been trending on social media over the past day, and it's not because people are confused about where President Trump falls on the chronological list of American presidents. The reference is to a new Quinnipiac poll showing that President Trump is being beaten quite handily by each of his potential 2020 Democratic opponents.
41% is Trump's average favorability in the head-to-head match-ups, with front-runner Joe Biden leading him by a whopping 53-40. Trump doesn't fare much better against less popular candidates like Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg.
Unsurprisingly, Trump's detractors have been having a field day with the results on Twitter:
Colonoscopy 54%, Trump 39%
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) June 11, 2019
And just as unsurprisingly, Trump himself weighed in on Twitter to declare such polls to be "fake":
The Fake News has never been more dishonest than it is today. Thank goodness we can fight back on Social Media. Their new weapon of choice is Fake Polling, sometimes referred to as Suppression Polls (they suppress the numbers). Had it in 2016, but this is worse.....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2019
Despite persistent claims to the contrary (by Trump and many of his loyal supporters), the 2016 election demonstrated that national polling in this country has actually become very good at illustrating public sentiment. When the final election vote tally was released in January of 2017, we learned that the average of polls impressively came within just one point of predicting the actual voting numbers.
In other words, the national polls were accurate. They were, by no means, "fake."
What wasn't accurate was some local polling in key states. State polls in Wisconsin, for example, showed Hillary Clinton with a 6.5 lead right before the election. Yet, Trump ended up winning the state.
As good as national polls are at reflecting general public sentiment in this country, they don’t necessarily reflect the nuances of the electoral college. And with some of the state polls being so far off in 2016, it's easy for reasonable people to sympathize with the professional analysts (and regular folks) who deemed Clinton the favorite to win.
Yes, the national polls have legitimacy, but here's the good news for Trump supporters — news that should really go without saying...
An election poll taken over a year before an election is pretty pointless. It says very little about the strength of the opposition party's candidates, and it really just illustrates the current popularity or unpopularity of the incumbent.
We already know that President Trump is unpopular (and has been throughout his entire time in office). He has never been above water in terms of national approval, and if the election were held tomorrow, perhaps any opponent with the slightest bit of competence would beat him. But there is plenty of time for perceptions to change between now and November of 2020, on both sides of the aisle.
Now, is chronically low approval a problem for an incumbent president — especially one who has presided over a strong economy? Absolutely. Is it a political death sentence? No, and there are countless historical examples that back that up. This early on, these types of polls are no more a predictor of an outcome than a coin flip. Sure, they're fun for those whose side they favor, but that's about it.
Still, President Trump shouldn't blow off his unpopularity. If he wants to win re-election, he can't count on being handed the gift of a Democratic nominee who is as personally unappealing and corrupt as Hillary Clinton was; that was likely a once-in-a-lifetime gift. He'll have to find ways (and they're not that hard to identify) of expanding his base.
Otherwise, going into November of 2020, the head-to-head polls will look similar to how they do now. And this time, the electoral college may not be able to make up the difference.
Did you miss John Daly's recent trip to the White House? Watch exclusively video of the special event below. Then learn more about his upcoming novel, Safeguard, here.