Outlier Polls Don't Matter
But Joe Biden still has a big problem
Left-liberals went into a rage-fueled panic over the weekend. A new ABC/Washington Post poll showed that a potential presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was not close at all. Despite four indictments, Trump led Biden by an astounding 10 points, with voters surveyed in the poll taking a uniformly negative view of the economy. Almost every other poll of the 2024 race has showed a dead heat, with either Biden holding a small lead or stuck in a statistical tie. Even the Post said the results of its poll “suggest it is probably an outlier.”
Despite this qualification, recriminations were everywhere. “How could you even publish a poll so absurd on its face?” asked the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato. “I don't think it should be taken seriously,” wrote Simon Rosenberg, a veteran Democratic operative. MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan mocked Trump’s apparent lead over Biden with young voters. “Lol, there are outlier polls and then there’s this poll from the Post-ABC today. If anyone wants to believe that Trump has a 20-point lead with young voters, I have a degree from Trump University for them.”
These reactions aren’t objectively wrong. Trump, who is on track to be the Republican nominee for the third consecutive time, is very unlikely to win a popular vote by 10 points—or win a popular vote at all. A 10-point victory would be the sort of landslide that hasn’t been seen in decades and represent a dramatic reversal of the polarization that has defined modern American elections. For Trump to do this, he would have to win over swaths of Democrats and left-leaning voters he couldn’t appease in either 2016 or 2020. No single political figure is more firmly defined in the public imagination; there is no reinvention the incendiary Trump could undergo, at 77, to hunt out a mass of new converts. To a large segment of the American population, he is the most alienating man who has ever lived.
But none of that means Trump can’t win again. The panic in prestige liberal spaces is genuine. Enough have learned the lessons of 2016, even if they adopt a degree of performative confidence or crow about the power of “Bidenomics.” In the media, Democratic pundits and adjacent journalists may remain somewhat incredulous. Can’t enough voters be convinced, at this point, Trump is a dangerous conman, a liar, a fascist? If only “both-sides” journalism was ditched for good and the reporters got honest with the proles, all could be well. Democracy is on the ballot!
Well, not quite. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is on the ballot. That’s the real trouble.