June 10, 2023

Another post-convention poll shows…

We’re starved for polling because everyone wants to know whether the conventions shook up the race. Best guess at an answer right now, based on limited data, is that they helped Trump but didn’t reach “shake-up” level. Yesterday Morning Consult found Biden’s pre-convention 10-point lead slipping to six points. YouGov also saw him up six, down from nine the month before. Today we have further evidence from ABC/Ipsos that people’s opinions haven’t changed dramatically after two weeks of pageantry.

ABC didn’t provide head-to-head numbers (maybe they’re saving those for release this week) but they did measure Biden’s and Trump’s favorability before and after the conventions. Result: Biden’s favorability has *improved* since last week whereas Trump’s is basically static. Morning Consult found Trump’s favorable rating flat in yesterday’s poll as well even though it had him gaining on Biden in the presidential race. In hindsight it seems like a minor mistake for Republicans to have spent so much time at the convention trying to convince the public what a terrific father and caring boss he is. Voters’ views of Trump the man are carved in granite at this point, beyond the reach of persuasion. A better use of TV airtime would have been hammering the message that there’s a ton of progress on COVID that’s right around the corner — faster, cheaper testing, therapeutics like plasma, and of course a vaccine.

Less than one-third (31%) of the country has a favorable view of the president in the days after he accepted the Republican nomination for the second time — a stagnant reality for Trump. His favorability rating stood at 32% in the last poll, taken a week earlier, right after the Democratic National Convention…

In the new survey, which was conducted using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, Biden’s favorability remains higher than his unfavorability, 46% to 40%, solidifying his improvement in favorability from last week, when attitudes about the Democratic nominee improved to a net positive from his slightly underwater position prior to the convention…

Among Democrats, too, Biden’s favorability climbed seven points after his convention — showing signs that he’s solidified support among his base. But Trump’s favorability dipped slightly — by four points among Republicans in the newest survey.

Those numbers seem suspicious to me. For one thing, 31 percent favorability is freakishly low. He’s averaging 42 percent across other polling. (Maybe ABC is excluding people who view him “somewhat favorably”?) It’s also hard to believe that his favorability *declined* within his own party after a week-long convention devoted to hyping him and his achievements in office. In fact, today’s poll is accurate, nearly one-fifth of the GOP disapproved of what they saw and heard at the convention. Democrats, by contrast, nearly unanimously approved of what they saw and heard during Biden’s show.

I can’t imagine which part of the convention could have alienated that many Republicans. There aren’t enough Never Trumpers left in the party to form a minority that size. Either the poll is screwy or, I guess, maybe there’s a slice of the GOP that also noticed the absence of pandemic messaging and wanted to hear more from Trump about what his game plan is for the fall. “[Trump’s] speech … appears to have done little to shift the consistent disapproval on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic,” ABC notes. “A clear majority of Americans (63%) disapprove of Trump’s oversight of the public health crisis — a steady trend since early July.”

It’s also surprising to find that Biden’s favorability *increased* in this poll ever so slightly (by one point) during the GOP convention. Republicans spent four days tearing him down on national television; you would think that would sour Americans on him a bit. And it did in other surveys released over the past 24 hours. Morning Consult’s poll found Biden’s favorable rating dipping from +5 to +2 by the end of the convention. Axios is also seeing a dip in its own new poll today:

President Trump didn’t make himself more appealing to voters during the Republican National Convention, but he did hurt Joe Biden, a new Axios-SurveyMonkey poll finds…

Biden’s favorable/unfavorable rating with independents who don’t lean toward either party dropped from a net -5 to -18 in a week.

But Trump’s also eroded — and remained far worse than Biden’s — sliding from -35 to -37.

The one constant across all of these surveys is that Americans don’t view Trump more favorably now than they did two weeks ago. If they did, his convention bounce really might have been gamechanging instead of the more modest gains we’re seeing. He’s always been better at convincing voters why they should dislike his opponent than why they should like him.

It could be that public attention to the conventions has already been overtaken by public attention to violence in Kenosha and Portland, but that might not be a gamechanger either:

I’ll leave you with the USC tracking poll, the only one in 2016 to predict Trump finishing ahead of Hillary in the popular vote. That was wrong, but they did at least detect stronger support for him among the electorate than the conventional wisdom believed was possible. They have Biden up 14 points today, a slight increase since this time last week. Hmmmm.

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