Two important new polls have come out this afternoon. They’re clarifying on a number of grounds. The first is that President Trump’s rise in the polls is at best overstated. Quinnipiac puts him at 43% approval, on the high side for that poll but the same as their previous three polls back into December. Monmouth has him at 44%. Their previous three polls had him at 43%. Just moments ago Yougov released a new batch of polls which put Trump at 41%, basically where he’s been since forever. (I put more stock in Quinnipiac and Monmouth but it’s another important data point.) Take this all together and they suggest Trump is in a relatively strong position based on where he’s been over the last three years. But there’s little evidence here of some game-changing move. Certainly nothing like the 49% Gallup found last week, which remains a distant outlier.
Quinnipiac has head to head match ups with Democrats. All the top candidates beat Trump by significant margins. Bloomberg 51-42, Sanders 51-43, Biden 50-43. There’s a lot of information that tells us that President Trump can definitely win reelection. But these numbers all point to an incumbent who has an uphill climb at best. And at least for now there’s little evidence suggesting a really different situation than we’ve had to date.
They also certainly suggest that if you think Sanders is a weak general election candidate that must be based on the predicted effects of attacks that have yet to happen. Because 51-43 is pretty solid.
The White House, in a moment of fragmentation and disappointment for Democrats, is trying to further demoralize the opposition. These numbers suggest that, technically speaking, Democrats should chill the fuck out.
The second major finding is that Joe Biden’s standing has fallen rapidly since his poor showing in Iowa. A bunch of New Hampshire polls suggest he’ll have a similar result tomorrow night, though we’re in a fluid situation and can’t rule out surprises. The Quinnipiac poll has national Democratic primary numbers which are Sanders 26%, Biden 17%, Bloomberg 15%, Warren 14%, Buttigieg 10%, Klobuchar 4%.
Warren has the worst net favorability rating, -8 (though barely different from Biden’s) and is significantly weaker against Trump. She leads Trump by 4 points; Buttigieg leads the President by 3 point.
That’s a five point rise for Sanders and a 9 point fall for Biden. Bloomberg rose from 8% to 15%.
So the other question is, why is Bloomberg rising so quickly?
The first and most obvious reason is that he is running saturation ads across the country. That’s clearly a necessary condition for his rise but I don’t think it’s a sufficient one. The Quinnipiac poll suggests roughly half of Biden’s African-American support has moved to Bloomberg.
I have another theory for what is driving Bloomberg’s rise.
At the moment, we have a splintered and acrimonious Democratic primary race. That happens in primaries. Nothing new there. But Democrats are really, really, really focused on beating Donald Trump. Bloomberg’s ads ignore the entire primary process. They focus on Bloomberg himself and increasingly on bashing Donald Trump.
I see them a lot on social media. They’re good. Even if you’re a Sanders supporter you’d think they’re good, even if you despise Bloomberg.
For a lot of Democrats right now, watching the primaries unfold is highly dispiriting. Bloomberg is already running against Trump, running ads that land hard punches on Trump. If you’re a Democrat, the Democratic primary race is exhausting and demoralizing and the ads bashing Trump get you pumped – just because a lot of Democrats are so focused on driving Trump from office and want to get on to running against him.
Clearly, Bloomberg is both benefiting from Biden’s seeming collapse and also driving that collapse. But I think that other factor is big too.