Right-wing media may stop doing its rain dance when they read this, or at least figure out how to spin it as Deep State propaganda. The analysis that you’re about to read probably explains the “Red Tsunami” of 2022, which never materialized. But those news clips showing Kevin McCarthy predicting a “40-seat pickup, minimum” are always good for laughs. He’s so smug and convinced he’s right. If this New York Times article is accurate, then the polls are totally selling us a bill of goods and have been for a while. The essence of polling, the bedrock of it, is to poll “likely voters” — unless there is some reason for polling a group not so identified, and then that must be spelled out.

The polls have shown Donald J. Trump with an edge for eight straight months, but there’s one big flashing warning sign suggesting that his advantage might not be quite as stable as it looks.

That warning sign: His narrow lead is built on gains among voters who aren’t paying close attention to politics, who don’t follow traditional news and who don’t regularly vote.

Whoa, Nellie. Did you read that? His “lead” is built on gains amongst people who “don’t pay attention to politics and who don’t regularly vote?” And who don’t follow traditional news, i.e., right-wing media consumers, i.e., MAGAs? Well, I must say this makes complete sense. If you are taking a poll over whether Coke is preferred to Pepsi and you only take that poll in the Pepsi factory and amongst Pepsi shareholders, I am going to bet that you will find that Pepsi snows Coke as the beverage of choice. And it gets worse.

To an extent that hasn’t been true in New York Times/Siena College polling in the last eight years, disengaged voters are driving the overall polling results and the story line about the election. 

Now that’s swell. No wonder we have nothing but confusion. And here’s another great line. “And looking back over the last few years, almost all of Mr. Trump’s gains have come from these less engaged voters.” Good. I have two basic feelings about this revelation. The first is relief, because it makes no sense that a MAGA worldview is being confirmed by polls unless those polled are in fact MAGAs and not a polling sample of likely voters, from different demographics. But beyond that — and let me scream this from the rooftops — we cannot get complacent. Yes, we have suspected for some time that the polls are off. And certainly we got massive confirmation of that in 2022. But we need to keep hustling for the vote as if we were the mythical 14 points behind.

Mr. Trump’s strength among low-turnout and less engaged voters helps explain a lot of what’s strange about this election. It illustrates the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s lead in the polls and Democratic victories in lower-turnout special elections. And it helps explain Mr. Trump’s gains among young and nonwhite voters, who tend to be among the least engaged. His strength among young voters, in particular, is almost entirely found among those who did not vote in the midterms.

Friends, come let us reason together, as LBJ used to say. If Trump’s “strength” is to be found in people who didn’t vote in the last election, what good is it? At some point, polling and predicting voter behavior becomes almost mystical. Yes, we see some theoretical defection from Joe Biden among disengaged people. And the question is posed in this article, “What can the President do to win them back?” And I say, “Who gives a rat’s ass?” If they’re not voting anyhow, then their opinion, in a real world context is worthless.

While the race has been stable so far, Mr. Trump’s dependence on disengaged voters makes it easy to imagine how it could quickly become more volatile. As voters tune in over the next six months, there’s a chance that disengaged but traditionally Democratic voters could revert to their usual partisan leanings. Alternately, many of these disaffected voters might ultimately stay home, which might help Mr. Biden.

I encourage you to read this article in full because it devotes a lot of column space to what Biden could do to reach the disaffected voter. Or the disengaged voter. And I’m not saying that those groups are not important. Every group is important, every vote is a sought after prize. But elections are not determined by the disengaged. Elections are determined by people who either fill out a mail-in ballot and return it or who show up at the polls.

There are good reasons to expect fewer voters in 2024 than in recent cycles, as the 2020 election was the highest-turnout election in a century. But if you think that means that there won’t be many new voters, you’re already wrong: In fact, 10 percent of those who were registered but didn’t vote in 2020 have already voted, in 2022’s relatively low-turnout midterms. The usual churn is already at work.

Still, Mr. Trump’s big edge among nonvoters means the exact number of new voters could be hugely important or even decisive. And even beyond the proportion of new voters, exactly which new voters show up could also be pivotal. In recent years, Democrats have benefited from what we’ve called a “hidden” turnout advantage — a tendency for Democratic-leaners who vote to be more anti-Trump than those who stay home.

With that history in mind, Democrats can hope that higher turnout will draw a disproportionately anti-Trump group of irregular voters to the polls. There were signs of this yet again in the recent Times/Inquirer/Siena battleground polls, as Democratic-leaning nonvoters who backed Mr. Biden were 20 percentage points likelier to say they were “almost certain” or “very likely” to vote than those who preferred Mr. Trump.

Of course, it’s unlikely that disengaged, irregular voters have already formed solid plans about November. There’s plenty of time for them to make up or change their minds about whom they might vote for — and about whether they’ll vote at all.

My two cents: I think that 2024 will be an even higher turnout than 2020. We have too much at stake, plus the 2024 election is an even bigger freak show than the 2020 election was. In 2020, Donald Trump was not under four criminal indictments in four different jurisdictions. In 2020 Trump had not been found civilly liable for fraud to the tune of $454 million or civilly liable for rape to the tune of $91 million.

And Trump may be a convicted felon between now and the 4th of July. That is a distinct possibility. That will put a spin on this election like we have never seen.

And do not disregard what will come out at the debates. Joe Biden is going to wipe the floor with Trump, wring him out, and then wipe the floor with him again. Biden will point out that Trump is a crook and has been found to be so by a court(s) of law. What is Trump going to counter with, conspiracy theory about magical payments to Biden from China and Ukraine?

I see a massive turnout in 2024. I pray that I’m right because traditionally Democrats do better, the better the turnout. 2024 is not 2020 and it is emphatically not 2016. In 2016 turnout was low. Both candidates were considered unpopular, although for very different reasons, and Trump was an unknown quantity at that point. None of that is true today.

It’s good to know why the polls are screwy but don’t get complacent. We need to work as if we really are 14 or 20 points down. And the down ballot is crucial this year as well. Get Out The Vote. If we don’t do it this year, we might not get another chance.

Help keep the site running, consider supporting.

2 COMMENTS

  1. In other words these morons are happy dancing to whatever shit comes down the pike from people they know nothing about. Clearly we are an overripe fruit rotting on the vine. A proverbial ship of goddamn fools.

  2. Remember, the most potent force in bringing out the anti-Trump vote is Trump himself and his moronic utterances.

    He’s going to continue bringing it out better than anyone else could.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The maximum upload file size: 128 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here