Election 2020

Here's Why I Think the 2020 National Polls Are Garbage

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Many people distrust the polls this year. And with good reason. If the polls in 2016 were right, Hillary Clinton would be president right now. But the number of polls showing a national blowout for Joe Biden probably have some Trump voters, even those who don’t trust the polls, worried.

But, if we consider the national numbers we’ve been seeing lately, they make no sense. I’m not saying that because I don’t want them to be true. I’m saying that because they literally make no sense.

Here’s why.

Let’s look back to 2008, when Barack Obama defeated John McCain. Barack Obama had everything going for him. As the first black presidential candidate for a major party, the media couldn’t talk about him or his campaign without acknowledging the historic nature of his candidacy, which resulted in a surge in African-American voters, and a number of crossover votes from Republicans. Barack Obama was a true celebrity candidate. He got large crowds. A cult of personality candidate, who was cheered on stage even for blowing his nose. Even the slightest criticism of him or his candidacy sparked accusations of racism. No attacks on him seemed to stick. Voters wanted to show the world that America was ready for a black president, even one as inexperienced as Barack Obama.

John McCain, however, was an underwhelming candidate. Despite his victory in the GOP primaries, there was little enthusiasm for his candidacy. In fact, the only thing that seemed to inject any enthusiasm for his campaign was his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. McCain’s biggest obstacles, of course, were his support of the unpopular Iraq war, and the financial crisis hitting at the worst possible time.

But Obama only got 52.9 percent of the popular vote. John McCain got 45.7 percent.

Don’t get me wrong, a 7.2 percent lead in the national popular vote is nothing to sneeze at. To date, Obama’s 69.5 million vote tally is the largest number of votes won by a presidential candidate.

So, are we really expected to believe that Joe Biden’s support nationwide has ever eclipsed that of Barack Obama’s in 2008?

According to a recent NBC News/WSJ Poll, Biden’s national edge over Trump was 14 points. A CNN poll had Biden leading 16 points. In the past week alone, there have been five national polls showing Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over Trump. At the time of this writing, Biden’s RCP average is +8.9 percent.

To believe the national polls requires the incredible suspension of disbelief that Joe Biden has been such an exciting candidate that he has earned more support than Barack Obama in 2008? Especially given how little he’s been out on the campaign trail, and the huge enthusiasm gap between him and Donald Trump?

There have been some factors that don’t bode well for Trump, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact of it are certainly problematic for him, but according to a poll of swing voters in battleground states, despite the rhetoric of the Biden campaign, these voters are overwhelmingly sticking with Trump, and neither blame him for the global pandemic or the economy that resulted from the shutdowns. Also, despite these factors, 56 percent of voters says they are better off now than they were in 2004, when President Bush was reelected, or in 2012, when Barack Obama was reelected.

In 2016, I believed the polls showing a bloodbath for Donald Trump. I saw the huge rallies he was holding, but dismissed their importance. It seems quite clear that Trump has seen a surge of enthusiasm in 2020, not a decline. Not even Barack Obama can say he maintained the same level of enthusiasm between his first and second campaigns. Obama may have won reelection in 2012, but he only won the national popular vote by 3.9 points in 2012, a decline of 3.3 points nationally—and in 2012, he ran against Mitt Romney, a candidate who similarly won the GOP nomination without much enthusiastic support, and ran a weak campaign, and he had a hard time making the case to conservative voters that they should vote for him.

Joe Biden cites his support from the black community for his victory in the primaries, but polls have shown that Trump’s support from black voters is higher than that of Romney or McCain, and has increased since 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

But, we’re expected to believe Biden leads by double digits nationally? Don’t bank on it.


Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trumpand the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis

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