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Trump vs. Biden polls: Look, something doesn't quite add up here

Welcome to How Bad Is It Really?, a recurring feature in which we take the temperature of the presidential election and what seems likely to happen in November.

Eric Levitz published a good article on Vox on Tuesday explaining why Donald Trump is doing well in the polls. As he shows, Trump is doing much better than he did four years ago among young voters, including black and Latino voters, particularly those who say in polls that they are generally skeptical of American institutions (government, businesses, etc.).

This doesn't make much sense intuitively. Biden and Trump are the same people they were four years ago, and the Democratic and Republican parties are essentially the same. The president is old, yes, but he was old in 2020. Trump is also the same man he was then, and perhaps even more so; Hell, just today he made headlines because he inadvertently compared himself to Hitler during a meeting with Jewish donors.

The economy also looks good for Biden these days, or it should. Inflation rates have slowed – and, in any case, rising prices do not appear to have led to a significant loss of support among other age groups. Unemployment is historically low.

U.S. support for the war in Gaza may strike many people as morally repugnant, but a very small percentage of young voters say it's an issue they care about. When pollsters ask these younger, wary voters who they plan to vote for in local elections, they say the same thing as before: They generally support Democrats.

Something equally confusing is happening at Trump's criminal trial in New York, where closing arguments are taking place. The trial certainly highlighted what we might call the former president's lack of trust — as Mother Jones noted, even the people who worked with Trump at the time to suppress Stormy's story Daniels believed he soon had sex with Daniels. After his wife gave birth. (He denies it.) But it had no noticeable effect on whether voters thought he should be the next president of the United States.

Fox's Levitz has a good theory about all this: Trump is a particularly compelling and unpredictable character who has assembled a new coalition of voters who just want to "burn it down." Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, writing in the New York Times, argued that Trump, like Oprah Winfrey, is the kind of person that some Americans watching on television have simply and definitively decided to trust — that intelligent elites think or not to trust him. Justified by objective reasons. Levitz notes that this reputation could help Trump in particular right now, as Covid vaccination mandates and TikTok conspiracy numbers have widened the pool of Americans he doesn't trust. He notes that Biden, as an aging president, has become a unique totem, equal and opposed to the institutions and social norms that some Americans want to burn down.

Look, two weeks ago when I published a three-tier anxiety assessment, the presidential polls were basically the same as they are today. But two things have changed since then.

For example, I've noticed that when writers like Levitz and Anderson try to explain what's happening in politics, they have to bring together many disparate ideas, like the decline of the black church, the fight against the coronavirus at the federal and the beginnings in 1986 of the Black Church. a Chicago talk show – to speculate on why. Which could end up leading us to an outcome in November (i.e. a Trump victory) that could be a significant outlier compared to a number of historical patterns. A Trump victory would be an anomaly given the typical advantages of incumbency and the success of presidents running for re-election during times of economic growth; This would also deviate from the very recent trend of underperformance of candidates associated with Donald Trump.

As Levitz points out, this would also deviate from current trends, identified elsewhere in the same polls, regarding the relative preferences of Democrats and Republicans. Simply put, there's a difference between refusing to acknowledge presidential polls or pretending that Biden is actually in the lead - and that's not what I'm suggesting, Isaac Chotiner, please don't interview me ! – and treat its predictive significance with some skepticism, given how it happens. It was so early in the race, it's unusual for the fundamentals. (John Kerry and Mitt Romney led George W. Bush and Barack Obama in several polls conducted in May 2004 and May 2012, respectively.) And even the numbers people know sometimes require a mental health check, at least that's what I read.

The other thing that's happened in the last few weeks is that the weather has finally become "nice" where I live. (And it's New Jersey – sometimes you can barely smell the Superfund sites!) The sun shines through the climbing branches and shimmering leaves, leaving kaleidoscopic spotted patterns on the children as they run around. front to back. With each silent breath of the dusty breeze, time seems to stop indefinitely and pass painfully. Summers, dear reader! We'll only see a lot of that in our lifetime, especially if Donald Trump gets re-elected and puts bloggers in the gulags. (Blog location? New Jersey). In short, the hour that awaits us is that of walking in the refreshing light of twilight, without worrying about the elections; There will be colder months ahead for that.

And so we end with the patented shovel scale, a measure of how numb you are at that moment, on a scale of one to five shovel hits to the head, if you're worried about Donald Trump's re-election. With just one shovel. Let’s all fly kites! (I don't know how to fly a kite.)


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