Some excerpts from “Joe Biden has an electoral math problem to solve” by Zachary B. Wolf at CNN Politics: “Former President Donald Trump would need to flip three states Biden won in 2020 to complete his political resurrection and retake the White House – and a new set of CNN battleground state polls out Monday suggests that if the election were held today, Trump is most of the way there….While national polling suggests the country doesn’t much approve of either Biden or Trump, it is battleground state polls like the ones CNN released Monday from Michigan and Georgia that should raise serious questions about Biden’s ability to make the Electoral College math work….Assuming Trump secures the Republican nomination (a pretty good assumption at the moment), if he can flip Georgia and Michigan and their 31 combined Electoral College votes, he would need to flip just one more battleground state that Biden won in 2020. These include Arizona, with its 11 Electoral College votes; Pennsylvania with 19; or Wisconsin with 10….In Georgia, Trump could go on trial as soon as August for 2020 election interference – among other things, he asked local officials to “find” him enough votes to overcome Biden’s 11,779 margin of victory in that state. Although Fulton County prosecutors want the trial to begin in August, it is also possible the state trial is delayed until after the election….Most registered voters in Georgia – 52% – say they approve of the charges, and a strong minority, 47%, say Trump should be disqualified from the presidency if the charges are proven….But right now, Trump has a lead in that state among registered voters (49%) over Biden (44%) in a hypothetical matchup, according to the CNN poll conducted by SSRS. For context, when Trump won the White House in 2016, he won Georgia by less than a percentage point.”
“Today, Trump is polling at 50% in CNN’s Michigan poll compared with Biden’s 40%” Wolf continues. “It’s telling that 10% of registered Michigan voters said they won’t vote for either man, but the frustration seems to be breaking against Biden at the moment in a hypothetical race for the state’s 15 electoral votes….Georgia is part of the diversifying Sun Belt that Democrats have long seen as their future….Biden won there in 2020 with the support of 88% of Black voters, a key constituency in Georgia, according to CNN’s exit polls….In the Georgia poll released Monday, Biden gets the support of 71% of Black voters (vs. 24% for Trump), not an exact comparison since those figures are among all registered voters, not necessarily those who will turn out to vote in 2024. But it certainly suggests Biden has work to do to maintain Democrats’ diverse coalition….Interestingly, Trump’s lead in Georgia and Michigan is built on people who don’t always take part in the political process….CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta and Ariel Edwards-Levy write: Trump’s margin over Biden in the hypothetical matchup is significantly boosted by support from voters who say they did not cast a ballot in 2020, with these voters breaking in Trump’s favor by 26 points in Georgia and 40 points in Michigan….Those who report having voted in 2020 say they broke for Biden over Trump in that election, but as of now, they tilt in Trump’s favor for 2024 in both states, with Biden holding on to fewer of his 2020 backers than does Trump.” There will be many more polls to come in the months ahead, and poll-analysts will focus increasingly on the swing states more than the national polls, which mean a lot less when it comes to sussing out the likely Electoral College vote.
For example, in her article, “Biden Leads Trump In These Key Battleground States—But Is Still Losing Popular Vote, New Poll Finds,” Sara Dorn writes at Forbes: “President Joe Biden would beat former President Donald Trump in seven swing states in a general election matchup, according to a new poll that also found a potential conviction could hurt Trump significantly—the latest survey, amid a series of negative polls for Biden, showing a hotly contested race if both become their respective parties’ nominees….Biden leads Trump by four points among likely voters in the seven states with the most closely contested results in 2020: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Michigan, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll….But the survey also found Trump would beat Biden by two points nationally (38% to 36%) in a head-to-head matchup if the election were held today, though 26% of voters said they were undecided, according to the poll of 4,411 U.S. adults taken Dec. 5-11 (margin of error 2 points).” The 26 percent undecided vote certainly diminishes the value of a head-to-head horse race poll, especially considering the omission of huge wild card of third party candidates such as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Cornell West and possibly a “No Labels” candidate. But it would be ironic if Biden wins the Electoral College but loses the popular vote, like Trump did in 2016. All of a sudden, Trump would be the loudest champion of direct popular election the cause has ever had.
Speaking of third parties, Jacob Indursky explores their prospects in his article, “The Trouble with Polling Third-Parties: Sure, third-party candidates have decided any number of contests—including presidential races—but experts are stymied by gauging how these potential spoilers will do come Election Day” at The Washington Monthly. As Indursky observes, “Eleven months before Election Day 2024, early polling suggests third-party and independent candidates will roil the presidential race. A much-discussed poll of battleground states from The New York Times found remarkable support for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in a three-way race against President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, with the scion of the famous political family scooping up votes from roughly a quarter of respondents….In the Real Clear Politics average of a possible five-way race, the combined total of Kennedy, Cornel West, the leftist intellectual, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a perennial source of annoyance for Democrats, hit an unsettling 19 percent. Polls that test a two-way and a five-way race show Trump improving his margin in these expanded fields by about two points….And these are just the polls, including the announced candidates. We still don’t know if the moneyed centrist operation No Labels will go forward with its announced plans for a bipartisan ticket, and if so, who their candidates will be….The combined support of the two most prominent third-party candidates, Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson, often cleared 10 percent in mid-election year polling. In one July 2016 poll, just four months before the election, the two combined for 18 percent.…But in the end, Johnson and other third-party candidates collectively came in under 6 percent of the popular vote, which is unsurprising. Third-party candidates routinely fade in the stretch. A June 2000 Gallup survey found Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and Green Party nominee, and Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan combining for roughly 8 percent. Still, on Election Day, they only won 3 percent of the national vote, albeit enough to tip Florida, and thus the presidency, to George W. Bush. In 1980, Republican congressman-turned-independent presidential candidate John Anderson scored around 20 percent in Gallup polling for most of the spring and summer but wound up with under 7 percent of the popular vote.” Indursky goes on too give fair credit to 3rd party candidacies that may have made a difference, but nonetheless concludes, “But if there’s a time to panic, that time is not now. As [poll analyst Stan] Greenberg says, “There’s just no predictive value of these polls whatsoever.”