October 25, 2020

Our polling shows Trump is neck and neck with us in the battlegrounds


She’s been beating this drum all week, first in a series of tweets on Wednesday, then again in a video chat with supporters yesterday. Democrats aren’t worried about a late Trump surge nearly as much as they’re worried about creeping complacency among their own voters.

Today, a memo in which she echoed the point yet again somehow ended up in the hands of the Times. I wonder if Team Joe’s polling is showing a downtick lately among lefties who say they’re planning to turn out. The barrage of “BIDEN BLOWOUT LOOMS” headlines might convince just enough lukewarm supporters at the margins that Sleepy Joe doesn’t need their votes to give Trump a shot at the upset.

“While we see robust leads at the national level, in the states we’re counting on to carry us to victory like Arizona and North Carolina we’re only up by three points,” [O’Malley Dillon] wrote, according to the memo obtained by The New York Times. “We also know that even the best polling can be wrong, and that variables like turnout mean that in a number of critical states we are functionally tied — and that we need to campaign like we’re trailing.”…

“This race is far closer than some of the punditry we’re seeing on Twitter and on TV would suggest,” she wrote. “In the key battleground states where this election will be decided, we remain neck and neck with Donald Trump.”

“If we learned anything from 2016, it’s that we cannot underestimate Donald Trump or his ability to claw his way back into contention in the final days of a campaign, through whatever smears or underhanded tactics he has at his disposal,” she added.

The public polls are wrong. O’Malley Dillon herself says so! Or, well, she implies it.

But … her numbers for North Carolina and Arizona actually match the public polling pretty well. RCP has Biden ahead by an average of 2.7 points in NC today and by four points in AZ.

She’s also being highly selective in which battlegrounds she’s chosen to highlight. North Carolina and Arizona have been tight for most of the campaign, but not all battlegrounds are and Biden doesn’t need either of them to win. All he needs is to hold onto Hillary’s 2016 states and flip the Rust Belt trio of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. All of which he’s leading by 5.6 points or better right now.

What’s O’Malley Dillon’s polling telling her about those states? My guess: She’s seeing solid leads in each and doesn’t want to mention it lest it undercut her “no complacency” message.

Even her claim that Biden isn’t up double digits nationally isn’t contradicted by the public polling. *Some* pollsters have him up by 10 points or more, but if you average out all of the recent surveys you get a Biden lead of nine. Plus, nearly every national poll taken over the last 10 days has him at 50 percent or better. Contra 2016, there probably aren’t enough undecideds out there to win it for Trump this time. He needs to find a way to flip a few percentage points from Biden’s column in the 17 days he has left.

What can he say after four years as president and many months of campaigning this year to convince a Biden voter to become a Trump voter, very belatedly?

Another curious thing. Yesterday, according to the Times, during her video presentation O’Malley Dillon told fans, “I know we’re going to win Arizona.” That’s an odd show of confidence within a broader message about taking nothing for granted, and it’s belied by her own polling. I wonder what she’s seeing on the ground in AZ to make her so confident despite enjoying a narrow lead over Trump right now. Whatever the answer, something to chew on: If Biden were to flip Arizona plus Wisconsin and Michigan but Trump were to hold on in Pennsylvania and the other battlegrounds he won in 2016, we’d have ourselves a 269-269 clusterfark that would be decided by the House.

Which is probably what we’ll end up with, because, you know. 2020.

By the way, here’s what Trump’s friendliest pollster, Trafalgar, is seeing in Arizona right now:

I’ll leave you with the president contemplating the prospect of defeat in his own inimitable way. He’s mostly joking here. Mostly.





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