Discover more from Hopium Chronicles By Simon Rosenberg
The WaPo-ABC Poll Is A Clear Outlier. Dems Are Having A Very Good 2023
Most Important Electoral Data Now Is Continued Strong Dem Performance Across US
The new Washington Post-ABC News poll is an outlier, and should be dismissed. Here is how the Post itself describes the poll’s implausible results:
although the sizable margin of Trump’s lead in this survey is significantly at odds with other public polls that show the general election contest a virtual dead heat. The difference between this poll and others, as well as the unusual makeup of Trump’s and Biden’s coalitions in this survey, suggest it is probably an outlier (bold added for emphasis).
A chart the Post provides (below) again refers to the poll an outlier. It should be noted that NBC released a poll this morning with the race tried at 46-46.
Outliers happen in polling, and I give the Post credit for acknowledging the poll has problems. But given the magnitude of the problems it’s not clear the poll should have been released at all.
The Post article goes on say:
Biden’s travails have been well documented this year in Post-ABC and other polls, although those surveys have shown that a general election contest between the two men remains a toss-up. The latest Post-ABC survey, however, produced a surprising result, with Trump ahead of Biden among registered voters by 10 percentage points — 52 percent to 42 percent. In May, a Post-ABC survey found Trump with a six-point lead among registered voters, 49 percent to Biden’s 43 percent.
In his two campaigns for the White House, Trump did not approach a majority in the popular vote, winning 46 percent in 2016 and 47 percent in 2020.
Looking at some of the support levels among different demographic and political groups also points to reasons for caution on this finding. For example, in the new poll, men favor Trump by 62 percent to 32 percent, a margin of 30 points. In May, Trump’s margin among men was 16 points.
Among voters under age 35, Trump leads Biden in the new Post-ABC poll by 20 points (note from Simon - this piece of data alone should have caused the poll to be tossed). Some other recent public polls show Biden winning this group by between six and 18 points. In 2020, Biden won voters under age 35 by double digits. Among non-White voters, the poll finds Biden leads by nine points. In four other public polls, Biden’s lead among non-White voters ranges from 12 points to 24 points.
Another group that backs Trump by a big margin in the poll are those who say they did not vote in 2020. They account for about 15 percent of the overall sample of registered voters, and they favor Trump over Biden by 63 percent to 27 percent. That level of support is significantly stronger than among those in the poll who say they voted in 2020. Among that group, Trump is at 50 percent, Biden at 45 percent.
Outlier results occasionally occur in polls due to random error and nonresponse issues, although the political composition of the poll is typical on other metrics. Self-reported 2020 voters say they supported Biden over Trump that year by a 50 percent to 46 percent margin, similar to Biden’s 51 percent to 47 percent margin in the national popular vote. In the poll, Republicans have a four-point advantage on party identification when including independents who lean toward either party, slightly more Republican than other recent polls.
It’s a bad poll, something the Post itself acknowledges. It’s so bad it probably shouldn’t have been released. A few other notes on this poll and other recent election data:
In a recent post I talked about something I’ve been calling asymetrical engagement. It’s the idea that right now, due to Republicans having a robust primary and Democrats not that our two coalitions are not paying equal attention to the Presidential election, and polls are coming back a bit more Republican than is the actual state of things. A confirmation of this theory is the new CNN poll of New Hampshire, a state where voters are paying attention and engaged, which has Biden ahead of Trump 52-40. Biden won NH by 7 pts in 2020. So in this large sample poll of a state where ads are flying Biden is outperforming 2020 by 5 points, similar to our overperformance in special elections across the US this year.
Given that Democrats have outperformed 2020 by high single digits in dozens of special elections across the US this year, it is very unlikely that Biden is running far below his 2020 results. For the Post poll to be correct, Biden would have to be running 22 points (!!!!!!!) below where Democrats have been running in specials across the US this year. It’s just not possible.
We need a conversation about what it means for 2024 national polling that the 2022 was not a nationalized election. The country didn’t all move in the same direction in 2022. Most of the battleground states moved towards Democrats in 2022 (AZ, CO, GA, MI, MN, NH, PA), most of the rest of the country moved towards the Republicans. It’s very hard for a national poll to capture and describe an election where regions of the country or states are not all moving in the same direction. It’s why I think to really understand what’s happening in the Presidential race we are going to have to rely much more on large sample, high quality state polls. And the most recent one of those, the NH CNN poll, has Biden up 12 over Trump, 5 points above his 2020 result. Will national polls now need to have a certain percentage of voters in the battleground states to be legit? It’s possible, and it’s something we need to talk about.
Here’s the election data I’m focused on right now:
The Democratic Party Is Strong and On A Very Good Popular Vote Run - Democrats have won more votes in 7 of the last 8 Presidential elections, the best popular vote run of any political party in US history. In the last 4 Presidential elections, Democrats have averaged 51% of the vote, our best showing over 4 elections since FDR’s Presidency. Can we improve on that performance and get to 55% nationally in 2024? I think so.
Democrats Keep Outperforming Expectations - In a “red wave” year, 2022, Democrats gained ground from 2020 in 7 key battlegrounds: AZ, CO, GA, MI, MN, NH, PA. We also picked up 4 state legislative chambers, 2 governorships, and 1 US Senate seat. As we’ve written 2022 was not a single nationalized election, but really two elections - a bluer election in the battleground where we gained, and a redder election outside where we did not. We’ve seen this strong Dem performance continue into 2023 with impressive wins in CO, FL, OH and WI and in special elections across the US. A new 538 analysis: Democrats have been wining big in special elections finds Dems outperforming the partisan lean in districts this year by an average of 10 points in close to 40 special elections across the US - this is a big deal, and similar to what we saw post-Dobbs last year. The Daily Kos special election tracker now has Dems up 7.6 points over 2020 in 27 elections this year. Very encouraging stuff.
The Blueing of the Southwest - Democrats are having their best run in the Southwest since the 1940s and 50s. In 2004 Bush won AZ, CO, NM, NV, Rs controlled 5 of their 8 Senate seats, 14 of their 21 House seats. In 2020 Biden was the first Democratic President to win all 4 of these states in a single election since FDR. Today Rs control none of those 8 Senate seats and we control 14 of 24 House seats there. Our success with Hispanic voters and in heavily Hispanic parts of the country remains one of the Democratic Party’s most successful party-wide efforts over the past generation of US politics.
Here’s how Ron Brownstein wrote up my current take on things in a recent CNN article:
Simon Rosenberg, the long-time Democratic strategist who was proven right as the most prominent public skeptic of the “red wave” theory in 2022, argues that Trump, in particular, is unlikely to match his 47% of the vote from 2020 if the GOP nominates him again. “We are starting at a place where it is far more likely in my mind that he gets to 45% than he gets to 49%,” Rosenberg said. “And if he gets to 45%, we have the opportunity to get up to 55%. The key for Democrats is we have to imagine growing and expanding our coalition for it to happen.”
Beyond the personal doubts about Trump among voters outside the GOP coalition, Democrats such as Rosenberg and Anzalone see several other factors that give Biden a chance to widen his winning margin from the last election. Perhaps the most important of those are the slowdown in inflation, continued strength of the job market, and signs of accelerating recovery in the stock market – all of which are already stirring some gains in consumer confidence. Democrats are encouraged as well by recent declines in the number of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the Southern border and the crime rate in big cities – two issues on which polls show substantial disappointment in Biden’s performance.
Another change since 2020 is the broad public backlash, especially in Democratic-leaning and swing states, against the 2022 Supreme Court decision ending the constitutional right to abortion, which Trump has directly claimed credit for engineering through his nominations to the court. Finally, compared to 2020, the electorate in 2024 will likely include significantly more young people in Generation Z, a group that is preponderantly supporting Democrats, and fewer Whites without a college degree, now the GOP’s best group.
All of these factors, Rosenberg said, create “an opportunity” for Democrats to amass a bigger majority next year than most consider possible. But to get there, he argues, the party will need to think bigger, particularly in its efforts to mobilize younger voters aging into the electorate. “It’s a man on the moon kind of mindset,” Rosenberg said. “We have to want to go there to get there. We have to build a strategy to take away political real estate from the Republicans because they are giving us the opportunity to take it away from them.”
Many Republican strategists privately agree that the combined effect of the January 6 insurrection and the court’s abortion decision will make it difficult for Trump to expand his support from 2020 if the GOP nominates him again.
The Post poll was bad. We keep winning elections across the US this year, running way ahead of our 2020 results. Joe Biden is a good President, the country is better off and we have a strong case to make for re-election. They are saddled with Trump, Dobbs and insurrection. In every way possible, as we head into 2024, I would much rather be us than them.
If you want to do a deeper dive on election data come to one our our upcoming events or my talks to allied grassroots groups in the coming weeks. Here’s the latest schedule. All are free and guests are welcome. And if you want to work on a 2023 election, early vote has begun in Virginia - here are ways you can help.
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Keep working hard all - Simon