Clear-eyed political observers understand there is more than meets the eye with almost any poll. Everyone wants to trumpet the one topline—“Biden beating Trump by 10!”—without really digging in to see what else a poll is saying. With last week’s American Greatness/TIPP Florida poll, however, there are some important and interesting data points that deserve closer examination.
Yes, Biden is leading Trump by 10 points in a state that Trump cannot afford to lose. That’s cause for concern. No electoral map makes sense for Trump if he loses Florida. And yes, among likely voters, which is a key data point, if the election were held today, their votes go to Biden by an 11-point margin.
None of this is good, but it’s beyond this line where things get interesting.
The same people who in double digits said they would vote for Biden over Trump if the election were today, when asked who they thought would win in November, said it would be Trump by a margin of two points. This tells me there is absolutely a “poll tax” on Trump—maybe of as many as 4-5 points—where people will not be entirely honest with a pollster when asked for whom they plan to vote. When it’s just them in a voting booth with only God watching, however, there are absolutely people who won’t admit to it who are going to be voting for Trump.
Deeper into the poll, Trump beats Biden by five points on the question of handling the economy and jobs. He beats Biden by three points on national security and wins on trade by four points. But Trump loses out to Biden on immigration, healthcare, and foreign policy. Moreover, Trump gets beaten badly on race relations.
But the kicker in my mind is when these voters were asked, “Does Joe Biden have the mental sharpness needed to be president?” only 34 percent could say “yes.” Put another way: 66 percent don’t think it’s a good idea to hand the senile old man the nuclear codes. This is in line with a recent Zogby poll that found 55 percent of respondents thought Biden had early-onset dementia.
The Florida poll also shows a correlation to the recent Arizona poll on American self-sufficiency: 78 percent of those polled said they would be likely or more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who advocated more self-sufficiency in manufacturing and producing food, energy, and medicine. In other words, they approve a decoupling from China and the return of jobs and manufacturing to U.S. shores.
All of this to say, Trump and Republicans should be very clear-eyed about things. Is Trump behind? Yes. Is he doomed to lose? Don’t be ridiculous.
November is two political lives from now and maybe 50 different narratives. Does Trump have work to do? Absolutely. On a fundamental level, he’s layering in at the campaign to get some of the fundamentals more on track. Trump needs to have laser-like focus on his message (easier said than done), especially regarding law and order and economic self-sufficiency.
But he also needs to draw Biden out of his basement and get him out into the open; challenge him to six debates or more, let the world truly see the Biden of today.
Trump cannot let a rerun of the Democrat’s Super Tuesday take place: Biden got annihilated in the states where he actually campaigned in person, finishing fifth in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire, but performed better in places where he didn’t campaign.
People who got to see the candidate up close and personal realized he didn’t have it. But in a lot of the Super Tuesday states, Biden either didn’t campaign or had a light footprint. People were basically voting for the Joe Biden of 25 years ago, not the Biden of today. Or else they were thinking of Biden only as a stand-in for the man under whom he served as vice president, President Obama.
Trump cannot let Biden and his campaign “hide the football.” He has to show the American voters that Biden is simply not up to the task and that, in these challenging times, America needs a strong hand to deal with both the domestic threats to American freedom and security and the foreign ones. If he can succeed in defining Biden this way, I have every reason to believe Trump can win in November.