So that just flipped the script

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Last week I wrote about how President Joe Biden was pulling slightly ahead of Donald Trump in national poll after national poll, thanks to a major shift in Biden’s favor with persuadable voters in the middle. Given the timing it was clear that Trump’s felony conviction, along with ongoing bad headlines for Trump about his dementia symptoms, were having an impact. Now we’ve turned a new corner.

I don’t believe in looking at any one individual poll out of context. I believe in looking at the polling averages, which historically have a better chance of being correct because they smooth out all the polling rough spots. Biden has recently pulled slightly ahead in most major polling averages – and that’s what matters. But in a symbolically remarkable development, Biden has now pulled slightly ahead of Trump in the Fox News poll.

Keep two things in mind. First, the Fox News poll surveys all voters, not just Fox News viewers. And while it’s never been the most reliable poll, the Fox News poll is usually in reasonable territory. There are laugh out loud polls that are artificially slanted to try to make the Republicans look good, but for whatever reason, the Fox News poll isn’t one of them.

Again, if you’re going to look at the polls at all, you want to look at the averages in the name of accuracy. But there sure is something fitting about Biden pulling ahead in the Fox News poll in the wake of Trump’s conviction, given that Fox News tried so hard to spin Trump’s conviction as a sham that the American public would see through.

Instead it’s more clear than ever that persuadable voters in the middle really are being moved by Trump’s conviction. Remember, there are two groups of persuadable voters. The first consists of people who haven’t decided whether to vote for Biden or stay home. The second consists of people who haven’t decided whether to vote for Trump or stay home. Trump’s newfound status as a convicted felon appears to be shifting both these groups to Biden’s benefit.

And so now we have an election where President Biden is slightly ahead in his quest for reelection. Keep in mind that at no point was Biden ever more than a point or two behind Trump in the polling averages. It was always within the margin of error. Back when the media was declaring six months ago that Trump was five and ten points ahead of Biden, this was only ever based on one single skewed poll at a time, even as the overall polling averages showed a very close race (remember, the media is always going out of its way to mislead you about what the polls are even saying). But we’ve still gone from a race where Biden was slightly behind, to a race where Biden is slightly ahead.

That’s significant. Every modern presidential race ends up being close in its own way, regardless of candidate quality or relative popularity. This is thanks to the fact that about 45% of voters are already locked into each side before the election cycle even begins. Then the results are made even more unpredictable by the wackiness of the Electoral College. And so you don’t expect Biden to be ahead by ten points, even though the economy is strong and his opponent is a convicted felon. You just expect Biden to be ahead – which he now is.

This is a good timely reminder that if we want Biden to win in November, we have to put in the work between now and then. This election is going to come down to voter registration, voter turnout, targeted small dollar donations, phone banking, and door knocking, just like every other election. It’s the reason we won in 2020. And it’s the reason we’ll win again in 2024, if we put in the work.

As always, you’re more than welcome to discount and ignore the polls. It is indeed still way too early to take the polls all that seriously. Remember all that fretting and cable news hyperventilating six months ago about how Trump was ahead in the polls and we were all supposedly doomed? That was clearly all for nothing, given that Biden is ahead in the polls.

And if it was too early to fret over the polls six months ago, then it’s still too early to fret over them now. We don’t know what the next five months of economic data are going to look like. We don’t know what’ll happen at Trump’s sentencing next month, and how it’ll further impact the polls. We don’t know how much worse Trump’s dementia will get, and how much that’ll impact things. We don’t know how many more criminal trials Trump will have before the election. We don’t even know if Trump will show up for this month’s first debate, and how his no-show (or senile performance) will impact things. The polls are what would supposedly happen if the election were today. But that discounts all the unknowns that are going to happen between now and election day.

The bottom line is that the polls now say we’re winning by a little bit, and that’s a lot better than the polls saying that we’re losing. So let’s take this good news for what it is. Let’s use it to build our confidence, and build some momentum. Remember, we’ll win in 2024 by donating, registering, and volunteering. And 2024 starts now. If you’re concerned about Biden only having a slight lead, get out there and do something about it.

Important Note: Palmer Report is moving to a reader-supported format with a significantly reduced number of ads so we can reach a broader audience at this crucial time for our democracy. Support us via PayPal and GoFundMe.