On Tuesday November 8, 2016 at 7:00 pm, I entered an Uber to travel to a Chicago-area stand-up comedy club in search of escape from the inevitable. The New York Times set Clinton’s percentage chance at victory in the high-90s. The driver had his radio tuned to a panel of NPR election experts assembled to announce the results as they came in. Most of the panel members chirped enthusiastically about Clinton’s inevitable victory. But one Clinton supporter spoke in hushed tones regarding the results from a particular county in Florida. I could hear it in his voice. My news sources still showed a likely Clinton victory. But this expert’s voice told the truth: The polls were wrong.
As we approach the next election, the polls again show an insurmountably persistent Trump deficit in the popular vote and even in key battleground states. Poll aggregator Nate Silver estimates Trump’s approval to be below Obama, Clinton, and Reagan at similar points in their presidencies. Silver fixes the chance of a Biden victory at 81 percent as of his writing on October 5th. The betting markets show a recent collapse in confidence that Trump will be reelected.
So why doesn’t it feel like Biden is winning?
If we had no polls, betting markets, or professional pontificators, what outcome would we predict from the things that we can observe with our own eyes and ears? Let’s run through a few non-scientific intangibles that don’t seem to line-up with the polling.
The media is actively sheltering Biden. If a Biden victory were indeed inevitable, would we see such vigorous coordination by the media to shelter and prop up Biden? As I recently noted, even a casual observer could see the media seemed to be tipping-off Biden on the already-softball questions it intended to ask. It is also clear that the moderator at the first debate frequently interfered to protect Biden from questions about his son’s corruption, potential Biden Supreme Court nominees, Biden’s position on phasing out private insurance, Biden’s specific criticism of Trump’s COVID-19 policies, and the reasons for Biden’s law enforcement support deficit.
In addition, it’s become patently obvious that the Biden campaign and the media intended a strategy of releasing a coordinated scandal hit on Trump every two to three days until election day. For example, the Bob Woodward piece, the Atlantic hit piece, the New York Times hit piece on Trump’s taxes, and the new coordinated mischaracterization of Trump’s “failure” to condemn white supremacists, since a mere 99 times of denouncing them simply doesn’t suffice and he is required to do it for the 100th time as called upon by Chris Wallace.
Voters don’t vote to ban their new guns. According to the Left-leaning Brooking’s institute, “In just the first six months of 2020, approximately 19 million firearms have been sold, representing more than one firearm for every 20 Americans.” But with roughly 150 million registered to vote, that’s a huge block of potential voters. Brookings made this observation before the awful rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Louisville, Kentucky. There are no reliable statistics for the proportion of those weapons that might be subject to a future Biden-sponsored gun-ban. But acute shortages of ammunition for AR-15s point to a large group of voters who might feel their guns will be targeted by a Biden Administration. It seems counter-intuitive that gun owners would vote for a candidate promising to ban those same weapons.
What about Biden’s incompetent messaging? Biden and his campaign just don’t act like they think they’re winning. First his imitative theme, “Build Back Better,” despite the awkward alliteration, is essentially identical to “Make America Great Again.” He’s played a prevent-defense style campaign by avoiding issues and public appearances. Biden prefers to attack Trump rather than articulating policy intentions.
After months of campaigning by Zoom, he suddenly emerged to conduct a smattering of lightly-attended functions. Yet, while polls tell us that Biden has never stopped beating Trump, the campaign abruptly lurched from raising money to bail out rioters to an unconvincing “law and order” stance. Then the Biden campaign made another radical lurch from encouraging their voters to mail in ballots to voting in person. Most recently, the Biden campaign promised to pull negative ads attacking the COVID-19-positive president but failed to do so. This tells me that the Biden campaign isn’t following advice from good political consultants and could easily be wrong-footed again.
The campaign is full of toxic political correctness. In the face of the George Floyd death, the Left seemed to have stormed all of America all at once with new speech rules. Simply failing to enthusiastically cheer the violent neo-Marxist/Maoist groups burning and looting our cities will get you fired by our Chinese-canoodling corporate overlords. Many Trump votes were cast as a protest to the suffocating political-correctness atmosphere of 2016. Since that atmosphere has become even more suffocating, those protest votes may grow. Even as the media pushes the “Trump is a white supremacist” narrative, minorities have begun to peel away from the Democrats in increasing numbers.
History is not on Biden’s side. It’s not a small thing that historical precedent strongly suggests Trump will be re-elected. Think of the last three times a challenger upset an incumbent: Bill Clinton over George W. Bush, Reagan over Carter, and Carter over Ford. Does Joe Biden have the umph of a Clinton or a Reagan? Remember, a younger, better-looking Biden lost to Michael Dukakis, who lost to George H.W. Bush. Taking that one step further, Bush lost to a charismatic Clinton. But all of that Arkansas charm wasn’t enough to prevent his wife from losing to Trump.
The intensity of Trump’s campaign is unstoppable. To quote one phrase making the rounds, Trump supporters will fight murder hornets, COVID-19, and rioters to vote in person. Biden supporters hate Trump. But Biden himself does not inspire hope or confidence the way an Obama or Bill Clinton did. Trump frequently boasts of the enthusiasm of his followers, signs of which one can easily see in rally attendance and the ubiquity of MAGA hats and yard signs. The MAGA rally even followed the president to Walter Reed when he could no longer come to the rallies.
There is a great upheaval of our population underway. Many have commented on the mass exodus happening across the country as the middle class flees the urban areas. Some of this is brought on by the telework revolution that makes living near the office an expensive luxury. But a significant number of Americans are fleeing high crime, chaos, and taxes that plague the Democrat-run cities. Some will take their Democrat-voting habits with them, but many more will either fail to vote during the transition or will vote against the party that drove them from their city homes.
President Trump has made fools out of thousands of prophets predicting his doom. While the public consumes a steady diet of polls commissioned by the same news organizations that so obviously want to wish a Trump defeat into reality, we know that the campaigns conduct their own secret polling. Thus, we should take note when the actions of the campaigns don’t match the numbers in the polls.