Trump and the Latest Polls: Summertime Blues or More Fake News?

Recent polls show President Donald Trump in big trouble, likely to lose in a landslide to many of the 20-plus Democrat contenders.  Once again, the media tell their dwindling audience how "the walls are closing in" on Trump and how no one likes him.

Should Trump-supporters be worried?  Or is this just the latest edition of the Fake News Gazette, courtesy of the Trump-loathing media?

A June 11 Quinnipiac University poll, a year and a half before the election, shows that it's all over for Trump.  He might as well be preparing his Trump Tower apartment for his return in January of 2021.

Joe Biden beats Trump 53-40.  Bernie Sanders is a little closer but easily wins, 51-42.  Kamala Harris prevails 49-41.  Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren defeats Trump 49-42.  Mayor Pete has a 47-42 edge, and even Spartacus Cory Booker ekes out a 47-42 win over the incumbent president.

Quinnipiac pollsters conclude, "It's a long 17 months to Election Day, but Joe Biden is ahead by landslide proportions."

A Fox News poll released June 16 reveals similar results, with Biden beating Trump by 10 points and Sanders ahead of Trump by 9 points.  Fox News acknowledged that four years ago, "[i]n June 2015, Democrat Hillary Clinton was ahead of Trump by 17 points."  We all know how that turned out.

Bill Clinton's campaign manager, James Carville, coined the phrase "it's the economy, stupid" as a way of defining the 1992 presidential election.  Bill Clinton was running against President George H.W. Bush, who failed to read his own lips and raised taxes, creating a recession that Clinton capitalized on.

Could the same fate await President Trump?  Possibly, as the election is over a year away, but Trump, unlike most politicians, doesn't back away from campaign promises.  Within the constraints of Congress and the judiciary, when you read Trump's lips, there is little difference now compared to June 2015, when he rode down the escalator at Trump Tower announcing his candidacy.

Quinnipiac even acknowledges the strong economy.  From their survey, "[a] total of 70 percent of American voters say the nation's economy is excellent or good."  If it's the economy, stupid, Trump is in good shape.

Going farther, the survey found that "[a] total of 77 percent of American voters say their financial situation is excellent or good, close to the all-time high of 78 percent recorded April 11, 2018."

Yet the survey also concluded, "But Trump does not get that much credit."  Then who does?  The do-nothing Congress?  Mitt Romney?  Maxine Waters?

What about the internals of the poll?  Quinnipiac surveyed registered voters rather than likely voters, the latter providing a more accurate metric.  The poll also oversampled Democrats by 2 percentage points, less than many polls but, per a common trend of oversampling Democrats, getting a more representative Democrat viewpoint.

The media were giddy over the poll results.  Vox ran this headline: "Trump's big problem is that he's unpopular."  Really?  Have they ever been to a Trump rally, with ten to twenty thousand attendees, always filling the venue, with two to three times as many outside, those lucky enough to attend having waited in line all day?

Compare that to a campaign event for any of the Democrat candidates.  Most can't draw flies to their events, always held in small venues with media coverage and camera angles designed not to show empty seats or the sparse audience size.

Politico makes excuses, saying, "Crowd size, after all, is an imperfect metric to measure a campaign's vitality."  Sure it is.  How did that work out for Democrats in 2016?  Trump's campaign slogan can be "It's the crowds, stupid."

Buried in the story was a kernel of honesty: "[o]ne local elected Democrat who supports Biden privately told Politico the rally was smaller and less energetic than expected."  No kidding.

And what a crowd Trump had for his re-election campaign kickoff in Orlando: tens of thousands, some lining up 40 hours ahead of the event for a chance to be one of the lucky 20,000 inside the arena.  Compare this to another candidate, Rep. Eric Swalwell, who had 18 people turn out to his recent gun control campaign rally.

Fox News piles on, asking, "How much do polls showing Dems trouncing Trump really mean?"  Trouncing?  That sounds like something CNN would say, but that's another story.

President Trump's response to all this was, "I'm not a huge believer in polling."  Who can blame him?  Polls in the fall of 2016 predicted a Hillary Clinton landslide victory.

Wunderkind Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight blog told us, a few months before the election, "[w]hat a Clinton landslide would look like."

Newsweek, just weeks before the election, proclaimed, "Hillary Clinton on track for electoral college landslide."

Reuters weighed in even closer to the election, promising, "With hours to go before Americans vote, Democrat Hillary Clinton has about a 90 percent chance of defeating Republican Donald Trump in the race for the White House."

All these assurances were based on polls — the same outfits telling us once again that Trump is toast.  Let's look at an alternative poll, Rasmussen, which has the distinction of being the most accurate pollster for the 2016 election.

As of June 14, in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, President Trump had a total approval rating of 51 percent, compared with former President Barack Obama at 46 percent at the same exact point in time eight years ago.  For the past year, Trump and Obama have been at a similar approval percentage, despite the constant cacophony of negative media coverage toward Trump.  Media coverage of Trump is 92 percent negative, very different from the coverage for his predecessor.

Obama cruised to electoral victory in 2012, easily defeating his hapless Republican rival.  Trump will have a similar advantage as an incumbent, facing a Democrat candidate who will have to stake out a position far to the left of Fidel Castro or Hugo Chávez just to secure the nomination, then attempting to flip-flop a few months later into a moderate centrist.  The campaign commercials against such a candidate will write themselves.

All the while, Trump is on a roll, leveraging America's economic might against China and Mexico to achieve his trade and national security objectives.  Hopefully, Attorney General Barr will be exposing the spygate chicanery through declassification and indictments.

Despite media glee over the latest polls, it's the Democrats who are likely to have the summertime blues, this summer and next.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

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