by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
That new, eye-popping Washington Post survey, showing former president Donald Trump ahead of President Biden among registered voters by 10 percentage points — 52 percent to 42 percent — probably is indeed an outlier. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t telling us anything.
The previous four national head-to-head polls had Trump and Biden tied, the CBS News poll had Trump ahead by one percentage point, and the Harvard-Harris survey had Trump ahead by four percentage points. Just one poll in the month of September had Biden ahead by one percentage point.
So even if Trump isn’t ahead by 10 percentage points, he is likely at minimum tied, if not a little bit ahead of Biden, and maybe ahead by more than a little bit. If nothing else, the people who chose to answer their phones when the Post’s pollster called were in a mood where the results could generate an outlier like this. If large majorities of the country’s registered voters were loving Biden and just itching to vote for him again, an outlier result like this would be highly unlikely.
Even if Biden’s advisors and other Democrats hand-wave away this particular survey, the overall thrust of recent polling indicates people are down on Biden and remembering the pre-pandemic Trump economy fondly. Reportedly, the Biden team is telling other Democrats to stop worrying, and that the issue of abortion and Trump’s own unpopularity will assure their victory in 2024. At this moment, that doesn’t look like a safe bet.
Yes, we don’t have a national popular vote, we have an electoral college. But if a Republican has a lead in national polling, that candidate is in good shape to reach 270 electoral votes. As everyone remembers, George W. Bush and Trump won more than 270 electoral votes while losing the national popular vote; it is difficult for a Democrat to win 270 electoral votes while losing the national popular vote.