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Posted by: TEEBONE ® |
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Column: Like this time in 2016, Trump looks doomed to defeat — that’s why Democrats are worried
Four years ago at this time — the middle of October 2016, just weeks from Election Day — I was taking considerable comfort in reading the polls.
A Monmouth University survey taken Oct. 14-16 had Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton 12 percentage points ahead of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, 53% to 41%. Polls from CBS News and NBC/Wall Street Journal also were showing Clinton with a double digit national lead.
Yes, the race for president isn’t a national election but a group of state-by-state, winner-take-all contests for votes in the Electoral College. But even that was looking pretty solid for Clinton.
RCP averages at the time had Clinton leading in most of the key battlegrounds. In Florida she was up by 3.8 percentage points over Trump. In Michigan she was up 10.7 points. In North Carolina she was up by 3 points. In Pennsylvania she was up 8.3 points. In Wisconsin she was up 6.7 points. She was even leading in Ohio by 1.5 percentage points.
Clinton ended up losing them all — Trump beat her in Florida by 1.2 percentage points, in Michigan by 0.2 points, in North Carolina by 3.6 points, in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by 0.7 points and in Ohio by 8.1 points — so, although she prevailed in the national popular vote by 2.1 percentage points, she got thumped in the Electoral College and Trump won the White House.
So I’m taking little comfort now in the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing Democrat Joe Biden with an 11 percentage point lead over Trump, the FiveThirtyEight poll of polls posted midday on Thursday showing Biden up by an average of 10.4 points or Thursday’s RCP national average, using a slightly different set of polls, showing Biden with a 9.2-point lead.
In the key battleground states, RCP averages now show Biden up by 2.7 points over Trump in Florida, up by 7.2 points in Michigan, up by 3.3 points in North Carolina, up by 7 points in Pennsylvania, up by 6.3 points in Wisconsin and up by 0.6 points in Ohio.
We’ve seen this horror movie before.
Biden’s average polling lead today is smaller than Clinton’s was at a similar point in 2016 in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio. It’s slightly larger than Clinton’s lead was in North Carolina. And, of course, for what it’s worth (not much), his lead is significantly larger than Clinton’s was in the national polls.
Here are a couple of other data points to shatter any complacency Democrats might be feeling and to boost any flagging spirits in Republicans.
In Minnesota, which some now consider to be a battleground state, Clinton held an 8-point lead in mid-October 2016 polling, similar to the 6.6-point lead Biden now holds. Clinton ended up winning Minnesota by just 1.5 percentage points.
In Arizona, also now thought of as a battleground, Trump held a 1-point lead in mid-October 2016 polling, and Biden now holds a 3.5-point lead. But Trump ended up winning the state in 2016 by 3.6 percentage points.
Maybe pollsters in 2016 were using outdated, misleading survey methodologies. Maybe a significant number of respondents lied to them because they were embarrassed to admit their support for the vulgar, mendacious Trump. Maybe a decisive number of Clinton backers didn’t bother to vote because, like me, they thought her victory was secure. Maybe the news on Oct. 28, 2016, that the FBI was once again looking into the issue of Clinton’s emails changed some minds, energized Trump supporters and depressed Clinton voters.
What we do know is that if you compare the mid-October polling averages in key states in 2016 with the election results about three weeks later, you see Trump moved the gap between himself and Clinton in his favor across the board: In Florida he beat the mid-October polls by 5 percentage points. In Michigan, by 10.9 percentage points. In North Carolina by 6.6 percentage points. In Pennsylvania by 9 percentage points. In Wisconsin by 7.4 percentage points. In Ohio by 9.6 percentage points.
If he gains similar ground again in each state in 2020, he’ll win them all and a second term.
The animating issues and the national mood are quite different this year, of course. I’m not saying history is going to repeat itself. I’m saying don’t for a second think this race is over.
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