Today’s entry - On the Fox News Channel Sunday, I made the statement that Joe Biden likely is the worst possible 2020 Democrat to take on President Trump. I’ve received several notes with follow up questions and the segment was picked up by the news service Grabien.
Here’s their headline. Talk Radio Host: Biden Can’t Energize New Voters as Someone Like Buttigieg
Bottom Line: If you’ve followed my Friday political updates recently, this might not come as much of a surprise. If you haven’t, given all the polling that’s running rampant showing Biden as the prohibitive favorite and polling best head to head against Trump, you might be wondering if I’ve started to lose it. I assure you that’s not the case. As usual, in Presidential politics, conventional wisdom is anything but wise. And as always, I go where my research and the facts take me.
Elections involving an incumbent president are referendums on them. It’s much less about the opponent. Now, to the extent that a challenger can impact the outcome in this race next year, that disparity shows you the path. Any challenger that can effectively turn “adult only” samples into likely voters by Election Day next year will stand the best chance of impacting the race to the extent that it can be, given that it will always be mostly about President Trump. This is where I turn from my analytics into a pragmatist. I made the comment that almost anyone in the Democratic field would stand a better chance of bringing new voters than Joe Biden. Wouldn’t anyone activated by Joe Biden already be a likely voter? He’s in his 70’s, is a former Vice-President and has spent his entire career in politics. What’s left for him to pull out of his bag of tricks to bring new people into the political process? And that’s the point. In part two.
If you’ve been following my logic, you know the following that President Trump is likely to win re-election based on history and current factors. Trump performs best with the most politically engaged and worst with the least engaged and likely to vote and Joe Biden isn’t likely to activate new voters.
Now about those head to head polls showing Biden’s the best against Trump. I’ll walk you back to four years ago. In Quinnipiac's polling, Hillary Clinton led literally every GOP challenger by a minimum of four points. The Republican that theoretically could make it closest would have been Marco Rubio. The Republican that performed the worst against Hillary? You guessed it. Donald Trump. Literally out of the entire field of 2016 Republicans no one polled worse than Trump against Clinton. She was showing a 50%-32% advantage. What does all of this tell you about the relevance of head-to-head polling at this stage of the process? So back to the point, why is it that Donald Trump spends the most time focusing on Joe Biden? I suspect he’s aware of pretty much everything I’m sharing with you and is hoping to get that match-up. With most Democrats at the professional level simply desirous of taking out Trump by any means necessary, the polling showing Biden as theoretically the strongest of the field is too tempting not to get behind. Potentially falling right into a trap of their own making.
Polling isn’t useless. You just have to know how to use it. Most people, including the pollsters themselves, aren’t analytical enough in their approach to putting the pieces together. With Democrats beginning debates over the next month the process will start to move quickly from here through Election Day.
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