Most people think the polls were wrong in 2016. But the final polling averages had Hillary Clinton ahead by four points, with a margin of error of about three points. She ended up winning the popular vote by two points, which was within the margin of error, meaning the polls were actually correct. It’s just that no one remembers it that way because the close result handed Donald Trump an electoral college victory.
I bring this up because of what it means for 2020. If the Democratic nominee wants to feel safe heading into the 2020 general election, she or he will want to be comfortably outside the margin of error when it comes to the polls. Conversely, if Donald Trump can’t climb within the margin of error heading into the election, he’ll probably have no chance at all. That’s why the latest publicly released poll numbers are such a big deal – but it’s even worse than that for Trump.
Believe it or not, the Fox News poll tends to be fairly legitimate, as it includes a sampling of all voters, and not just Fox viewers. The latest Fox News poll has the various top Democratic candidates beating Trump in 2020 by anywhere from six to twelve points. These are horrid numbers for Trump, and they point to him needing to completely change his approach between now and election day. Here’s the kicker: the actual numbers are apparently even uglier for him.
Jim Manley, who worked in the U.S. Senate under Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy, referenced the Fox News poll numbers and added this tidbit: “I have been told by one of the few republicans that will talk to me that the campaign has internal polling that is worse than this.” Internal polling tends to be more detailed and precise. So if Trump’s internal numbers really are even uglier than the six to twelve points he’s currently down by, he’s in deep trouble. That said, stay vigilant, and you can’t take anything for granted.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report