By Saeed Sobhani

Different Interpretations of Polls in America

June 22, 2019

President Donald Trump of the United States believes that most of the polls in the country are invalid and he can easily win the presidential election next year! On the other hand, many survey institutes have argued that Trump has lost its previous position in key states such as Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Given the US state and electoral electoral structure, the probability of failure Trump will increase in next year's elections. Here are some of the latest American media commentary on poll results:

What Are the Chances of Trump Being Reelected?

John Cassidy wrote in New Yorker that On Tuesday night, in Orlando, Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 reëlection effort with another big rally. After what happened in 2016, it behooves political analysts and commentators to approach the upcoming campaign with caution. So, I will put it no more strongly than this: with sixteen and a half months to go, the President and his campaign staff have reasons to be concerned.

The good news for Trump is that he retains a solid base of support, and the demographic to which he has the strongest appeal—white Americans who don’t have a college degree—still represents a very big chunk of the electorate. Plus, the unemployment rate is just 3.5 percent, and most Americans are optimistic about the economy. The bad news for the Trump campaign is that other demographic groups seem to have turned even more heavily against him, and a strong economy has failed to lift his approval ratings. Moreover, recent polls suggest that he is in trouble in a number of battleground states, including the three that were key to his victory last time: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

You probably don’t need reminding that, thanks to the vagaries of the American political system, Trump won with just 46.1 percent of the national vote, and a favorability rating that was considerably lower. On November 7, 2016, the day before the election, 37.5 percent of American voters had a favorable opinion of him, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average, which suggests that either the polls were wrong or large numbers of people voted for him despite not particularly like him. After his victory, his favorability rating rose to the low forties during the transition, where it has largely stayed. The latest R.C.P. poll average showed him with a favorability rating of 43.8 percent, which is pretty close to his latest job-approval rating—44.3 percent on Wednesday. It doesn’t seem to matter what he does or says: these numbers don’t change much.

Among whites without a college degree, according to the network exit poll, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by more than two to one—sixty-six percent to twenty-nine percent. This slice of the electorate represents Trump’s heartland, and according to the exit poll it accounted for about a third of all voters in 2016. (Thirty-four percent to be precise.) However, some political experts believe that estimate is too low. In a 2017 study that drew on actual voter files, national opinion surveys, and their own post-election polling, John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira, of the Center for American Progress, and Rob Griffin, a political scientist at George Washington University, concluded that forty-five percent of the voters in 2016 were whites without a college degree—eleven percentage points more than the figure from the exit poll.

The more there are of this type of voter, the better Trump’s chances. So what about 2020? Ongoing demographic changes are steadily making the country more diverse. But, in a 2018 analysis, Griffin, Teixeira, and William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, estimated that next year whites without college degrees will make up forty-four percent of the electorate—just slightly more than in 2016. If this analysis is correct, non-college whites will still be the biggest single voting bloc on the basis of race and education. Plus, they are spread out across the country. The “concentration of Democratic support in metropolitan areas diffuses over-all demographic advantages and increases the chances that large turnout and support from Trump’s base, primarily white noncollege-educated voters in more rural and working-class states, can once again lead to a narrow victory” in the Electoral College, Halpin and Teixeira noted.

But if Trump has a potential pathway back to the White House, he also has some very big obstacles in his way, beginning with the fact that, even if white non-college voters did makeup forty-four percent of the 2020 electorate, and he got two-thirds of their support again, it would leave him at roughly thirty percent of the over-all vote. To win, he also has to attract the support of other groups, such as whites with college degrees, independents, and Latinos. But the message of the 2018 midterms, and of recent opinion polls, is that many people in these groups have had their fill of him and want him gone. Outside of his base, he’s just not popular. And that is putting it mildly.

For example, according to the latest Fox News Poll, Trump’s approval rating among self-described independents is thirty percent, among self-described “moderates” it is thirty-two percent, and among suburban women, it is thirty-three percent. The poll also provided direct evidence that people in these groups are unwilling to overlook Trump’s character flaws. In response to the question “Do you think a politician can have low moral and ethical standards and still be a good leader?” Sixty-five percent of independents said no, as did sixty-two percent of moderates and sixty-six percent of suburban women.

Another problem for Trump is that, at least according to the polls, the strong economy doesn’t seem to be benefitting him very much politically. As he arrived in Florida, a Quinnipiac University poll indicated that fifty-four percent of Floridians think that they are better off than they were in 2016, and only twenty-three percent think they are worse off. But the same poll showed that fifty-one percent of Floridians disapprove of the job Trump is doing, and just forty-four percent approve.

Perhaps voters understand that the economy was already growing steadily when Trump took office, and they don’t give him much credit for subsequent developments. But there is also widespread skepticism about his economic policies, particularly the highly regressive 2017 tax bill and the tariffs on goods from China and other countries. In the Fox News poll, thirty-three percent of respondents said that they believe tariffs help the economy, versus forty-five percent who said that tariffs hurt the economy. In another question, the pollsters also asked people to say whether Trump’s economic policies benefit everyone, no one, or just certain groups. Thirty-one percent of respondents said that the policies benefit everyone; forty-eight percent said that they benefit people “with more money.”

Interestingly, the (correct) belief that Trump’s policies are targeted at helping the well-to-do is widespread among his core demographic. Thirty-two percent of whites without a college degree said that his policies benefit everyone; forty-four percent said they benefited people with more money. On the basis of these polls, it seems like Trump’s tax bill didn’t even fool his base.

The other challenge facing Trump is the electoral map. At this early stage, he is lagging behind the Democratic frontrunners in some of the states he could not win without, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Public polls have been showing this trend for months, and last week it emerged that the Trump campaign’s own polls have found the same thing. According to ABC News, internal polls showed Joe Biden leading the President by fifty-five percent to thirty-nine percent in Pennsylvania, and by fifty-one percent to forty-one percent in Wisconsin.

Over the weekend, the Trump campaign dismissed these polls, which were taken in March, as out of date, and fired several of its pollsters. “The president’s new polling is extraordinary and his numbers have never been better,” Brad Parscale, the campaign chairman, said in a statement. Trump also weighed in. “Our polls show us leading in all 17 Swing States,” he said on Twitter. And yet, hours after he posted this tweet, the Quinnipiac poll of Florida showed that, in head-to-head matches, he would trail Joe Biden by nine points, trail Bernie Sanders by six points, and trail Elizabeth Warren by four points.

A degree of skepticism is in order. Historically, head-to-head polls taken this early haven’t had much, if any, predictive value in Presidential elections, an analysis at Five-Thirty-Eight pointed out. It certainly seems likely that Trump’s numbers in the battleground states will improve as we get closer to the election: practically nobody in the political world expects a Democrat to carry Florida by nine percentage points. But how much movement will there be? With opinions about Trump already so firmly set on all sides, it isn’t certain that prior experience will provide much of a guide to this election. Indeed, nothing is certain, except that there is a very long way to go, and that the election will be bitterly fought. Buckle up.

Democrats asked to create an ideal candidate to beat Trump pick white man: poll

Rebecca Klar reported in The Hill that When asked to describe their ideal candidate to beat President Trump, the majority of Democrats picked a white, middle-aged man, despite a historically diverse primary field with women, minorities and younger candidates competing for the nomination, according to a new USC Dornsife and Los Angeles Times national poll. The poll found 56 percent of Democratic voters thought a white male candidate would be the best nominee to take back the White House in 2020, according to the LA Times. The poll also found two-thirds of Democrats described "the ideal candidate to beat Trump" as white, and three-quarters of polled Democrats said someone between the ages of 41 and 65 would be the strongest candidate. 

When asked about specific candidates, however, Democrats tended to favor the two eldest candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),77, according to the poll. Democrats felt Biden had the strongest chance of defeating Trump, with 47 percent saying he'd "probably win," and 39 percent saying he'd "definitely win."

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) who did not fit the polled voter's ideal candidate description by two marks, as a non-white woman, came in third as the Democrat's choice to most-likely defeat Trump, according to the LA Times poll. The poll found voters thought Harris had a 9 percent chance of "definitely" winning and 37 percent chance of "probably" winning.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was close behind, with the same 37 percent chance of a probably win and 8 percent chance of a definite win, according to the poll. As the LA Times points out, conversations and polls over electability have been controversial and are often seen as an inaccurate measure of how a candidate will perform in elections.

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