We have another pretty sobering general election poll out. This one is from the Journal. Toplines are 46% to 46% horse race number, widespread misgivings about Biden’s age. In general, as you’d expect, Trump’s supporters and potential supporters are basically 100% united behind him whereas Biden’s are far less so. Among the poll respondents actually interviewed for the article are two independents who voted for Biden in 2020 to get Trump out of office. One is considering writing someone else’s name in; another is considering voting for Cornell West.
To the extent those two are representative, that’s actually good news, believe it or not. That gives Biden room to grow. Biden should have a decent shot bringing over voters who already made anti-Trump votes just just four years earlier. It also highlights a point we’ve made earlier: Biden’s real challenge is almost certainly third party candidates who can keep the race down in the mid-40s, as it was in 2016. Remember that Trump got a slightly higher percentage of the vote in 2020 than in 2016 (.7%). But Joe Biden expanded on Hillary Clinton’s percentage by even more (3.1%).
That’s what the RFJ Jr and Cornell West candidacies are about, why they’re both getting so much assistance from the right.
The poll also sheds some light on this ever-present question of why Biden isn’t getting better approval numbers on the economy. Biden’s overall approval number in this poll is 42%. On “the economy” he’s down at 37% – net 22 percentage points under water. But his best number (47%-47%) is on “creating jobs” and his second best (45%-47%) is on “improving infrastructure”. His worst – a net -29% is on “inflation and rising costs”. If you want Biden to win reelection obviously you want all Biden’s numbers to be better. But step back and this spread of numbers makes much more sense. It also raises the question of just what voters are talking about when they talk about the economy. (Interest rates which have made the de facto cost of home and other major purchases dramatically higher are a decent place to start.)
The rejoinder from the Biden campaign is that the campaign hasn’t really happened yet. That’s true. In fact, that there are lots of two term presidents who were tied or behind a year out. In fact it’s close to the norm. It applies to Reagan, Clinton and Obama. The most accurate conclusion we can draw from these numbers is that Biden’s reelection is by no means a sure thing and that it will require a vast exercise of advocacy and activism from non-Trump America to animate a coalition to keep him in office for another four years.