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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Interregnum Ends, Fall Campaign Begins

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.



A new CNN/SSRS poll has former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump by a 51% to 43% margin.
That 8-point margin matches a Grinnell College/Selzer & Co. poll published this week as well and is in-line with the national polling average.
What's the point: The big question coming out of the major party conventions would be if they would reset the 2020 campaign. Could Trump's efforts to refocus the campaign on crime and law and order help him close what has been a consistent deficit?
The answer seems to be a no, for the time being. While it doesn't seem that Trump's messaging on law and order has hurt him to any large degree, it's pretty clear that it hasn't helped him in any significant fashion.
...
As my colleagues Gregory Krieg, Dan Merica and Ryan Nobles noted back in June, Trump's law and order messaging harkens back to Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign of trying to appeal to White voters. Just like then, protesters for civil rights have been marching in the streets. In some cases, riots have broken out.
The polls show, however, that, for a Republican, Trump is very much struggling with White voters. Trump is ahead of Biden by just 3 points in an average of live interview polls taken since the conventions. That matches the longer term trend since the beginning of the summer of Trump leading by 4 points among this group
,,,
Trump won White voters by 13 points in the final pre-election polls in 2016. Mitt Romney won them by double-digits in 2012.
In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1996 for a Republican to have done as poorly among white voters as Trump is right now.

That's the opposite of what you would expect if Trump's law and order campaign was successful at stroking White backlash.
.Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman at NYT:
No president has entered Labor Day weekend — the traditional kickoff of the fall campaign — as such a clear underdog since George Bush in 1992. Mr. Trump has not led in public polls in such must-win states as Florida since Mr. Biden claimed the nomination in April, and there has been little fluctuation in the race. Still, the president’s surprise win in 2016 weighs heavily in the thinking of nervous Democrats and hopeful Republicans alike.
...
The best chance for Mr. Trump, Republicans say, is to drive at a singular message linking Mr. Biden to the far left.

“He has to continue focusing on the network of anti-American lawlessness,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said of Mr. Trump, urging him to “emphasize American patriotism and history versus the left’s anti-Americanism” and to “turn Biden into McGovern.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers maintain that their private surveys are more encouraging than public polling. But while Mr. Trump’s swerve toward a strident law-and-order message has helped him consolidate conservative support, his rhetoric about rioting in a handful of cities does not appear to have swayed moderates, strategists in both parties said.

That is a serious problem for the president, given the lack of significant third-party candidates in 2020, which raises the pressure on Mr. Trump to win over new voters.