You all know the poll I’m talking about, the one from CNN that shows pretty much anybody not named Warren kicking Trump’s pasty, orange tufted ass out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue next November. And Warren herself is only 1 point behind, well within the margin of error, so I wouldn’t start using Mozart’s Requiem Mass for her stage entry music just yet if I were her.
Biden, Bernie, Beto, Harris, and even Mayor Pete all have their way with Trump in the new poll, and all but Buttigieg are outside of the margin of error for the poll. But when you look a little closer, there are some indicators that contain even more positive news for the Democrats, both individually and writ large, even this early in the game.
I’ll take halfsies!
In the poll, Biden, Beto, and Bernie all top the 50% marker. This is important for two reasons. The first one is psychological. Nothing gives you confidence quite like looking in the paper and seeing that over half the country likes you. Hell, I get all warm and fuzzy if I get the thought that half of my readers tolerate me. Also, once that 50% marker is breached, it normally takes something more serious to cause a candidate to drop back below it again, success breeds success.
But the second reason is even more important, at least to me. I have scoured my brain, and I covered this shit more closely than a lot of others, and try as I might, I cannot recall a single poll after the convention that showed Hillary Clinton getting over 50% of the vote. She rather stubbornly seemed to cap at about 48.5%. A;so, she was seldom if ever able to grow her lead over Trump to the point where it was outside of the margin of error in most polls. The fact that 4 current Democratic candidates, Beto, Bernie, Kamala Harris, and Biden are all outside of the margin of error, while Buttigieg is barely within the margin at 3%. This may signal Trump fatigue.
“Electability” is not an issue, at least not yet
In most polls recently, by far and away the #1 issue for Democratic voters in a potential candidate is electability. I myself recently wrote at some length that it didn’t matter how great the plans and programs of the candidates were, they didn’t mean jack if the candidate didn’t win! But that doesn’t seem to be an issue yet, not when you have 5 different candidates that can beat Trump at this early stage, if the polling is to be believed.
Also, remember this. This poll was a binary choice, Trump vs (insert name here), among random voters. Let’s take Beto for an example. In his 52%, those weren’t just Beto voters, you had Bernie voters in there, Kamala voters, Biden voters, all of them. But when faced with a binary choice, that didn’t include their preferred candidates name, they didn’t cop out to “no opinion,” or “another candidate,” they immediately pulled the trigger for the named candidate with a “D” after his name. As long as the Democratic candidates don’t savage each other in the primaries, this will make it easier for the party to heal united coming out of the convention.
Home, home on the “range”
If you’re a Trump supporter, or even worse, a Trump campaign strategist, there is something in this pol that should scare you silly, yet at the same time feel as well worn and comfortable as Mr Rogers old cardigan sweater.
And that’s Trump’s range in the polling. In this poll, he varied between 42-48%, with the majority being between 44-47%. If that sounds familiar to you, it should. Since he announced his candidacy, Trump has never topped 50% in any major poll, not even during his alleged “honeymoon cruise” in the weeks immediately following his election and inauguration. With his obnoxious personal behavior and policies, Trump is like a submarine commander, permanently underwater in the polls. And if you’re going to be in that range, your only hope is to keep your opponents in the same range, not letting them slide over the 50% marker. Especially when your dimwit campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has already announced that you’re going to try to patch together the same narrow electoral path you stumbled down the last time, again. Nothing quite like letting the enemy know which foxholes to shoot at, is there?
This party is by invitation only
There’s another thing I noticed when looking a little closer at the numbers in this poll. When you add up the numbers between Trump and his individual opponent, the total is quite high, in the 94-96% range. That leaves very little wriggle room for outsiders. Back in 2016, Clinton’s polling against Trump was more like 47-44, 46-43, that sort of thing. That left almost 10% of voters undecided, and ripe for the picking for third party nimrods like Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson, and Jill “Thanks for the lovely dinner Vlad” Stein to swoop in and pluck precious votes. Even this early, voters seem to almost instinctively feel the importance of this election, and its consequences, so this will be no time for a wasted 3rd party “protest” vote.
Bernie singing the blues?
This has nothing to do with the specific CNN poll used for the above categories, but with recent polling in general. When Joe Biden announced he was officially running, he received a “bounce” in the polls. This is almost automatic for any major candidate who announces, I even have a pet name for it, I call it the “announce bounce.”
But there was something unusual in Biden’s bounce this time around. Normally, while the newly minted candidate bounces up a bit, it doesn’t normally come at the expense of other candidates, it’s just a little swell of enthusiasm for the newbie. But in at least 3 major polls taken after Biden’s announcement, not only did Biden surge far more than normal, but Bernie Sanders fell like a stone, dropping to 3rd place in one poll, behind Elizabeth Warren. This caught my eye as particularly unusual.
There are two explanations that come immediately to my mind for this, although there could be others, and I may well be wrong. The first is the dread likability. In a recent article, when I compared the two, I opined that Bernie Sanders reminded you of the grandfather that yelled at you to “get off of his damn lawn!”, while Biden reminded you more of the grandfather that wanted you to “Come over here and pull on my finger.” That wasn’t intended as an insult to either one, just an observation on their personalities and public personas. But I can’t help but wonder, in this time when all of our nerves are worn raw by the hostile and angry rhetoric of El Pendejo Presidente, if some weary Democratic voters aren’t leaning towards the kinder, gentler, “Aw, come over here, it’s OK” persona that Biden emanates.
The other possible reason is more politically practical. In 2016, Bernie Sanders came out of nowhere, he was the “outsider,” raging against the system, and espousing outside of the mainstream ideas like free college, universal Medicare-for-all healthcare, and soaking the rich. But this isn’t 2016, and Bernie Sanders isn’t the lone wolf outsider taking those claims anymore. There are multiple candidates out there talking about repealing the Trump tax cuts, a “wealth tax,” one form or another of universal healthcare coverage, and some form of free state college and/or student loan debt relief. And at least some of them are rolling out actual, hard numbers proposals, showing exactly how they will do these things within the framework of governing. before he announced his official entry, many pundits wondered if Joe Biden had “missed his window” by not running in 2016, and that his time had passed. I think that the same question can be fairly asked, if Bernie Sanders didn’t “miss his window: in 2016 by not winning, because his signature issues aren’t his sile property anymore, and other candidates touting the same ideas may have opinions of other ancillary issues that voters find more attractive than Sanders holds.
Now granted, it’s obscenely early yet, and national mood swings over the next year are going to turn the Democratic primary field into one giant checkers board. But, regardless of who are sitting in the top tier, if polling continues to show a majority of the top tier candidate pummeling Trump, especially if they’re crossing the 50% threshold, and maintaining it, then it will continue to look like the majority of the country has had more than their fill of The Pampers President, and as long as the eventual Democratic nominee doesn’t walk out on the stage at the convention wearing a crown and an ermine cape, we should be just fine. In the meantime, carry on dudes and dudettes, we’re watching and listening.