“SHOCK POLL: BIDEN OPENS 8-POINT LEAD ON TRUMP” screamed the Drudge Report headline on the announcement that two-time loser Joe Biden has decided to run, once again, for president.
The headline links to a Morning Consult story that found Biden with a 42 percent to 34 percent lead over President Trump in a hypothetical matchup.
“Along with his advantage over Trump, Biden has held a consistent lead in Morning Consult’s weekly tracking among likely Democratic primary voters,” the report says.
But the only thing shocking about this poll is that anyone would put any stock in such polls so early in the race. Just ask President John Glenn.
In May 1983, a Gallup poll came out showing that then-Sen. John Glenn would do better in a matchup against President Reagan, with a far wider margin than the Biden/Trump split.
As the New York Times reported on May 19 of that year, the survey “found that Senator Glenn led Mr. Reagan 54 percent to 37 percent.”
At that point, the eventual Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, had a 49 percent to 43 percent edge over Reagan.
A Harris survey in July 1983 concluded that “it seems certain that the 1984 presidential election will be close, with neither the President nor his most probable Democratic opponents assured of any solid lead.”
Actual result: Reagan won a massive landslide over Mondale, getting almost 59% of the popular vote and 525 electoral votes — winning every state except Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.
Fast forward to 2003, when President Bush’s sky-high post 9/11 ratings started to collapse. In March 2003, a Quinnipiac poll found that an unnamed Democratic party candidate would beat Bush by a 48 percent to 44 percent margin. An April 2003 Gallup poll found Sen. Joe Lieberman with a lead over the nine other candidates running at the time. A month before, Rep. Dick Gephardt was leading the pack.
Anyone recall who the Democratic nominee was? Or the winner of the 2004 race?
Bush beat Sen. John “Reporting for Duty” Kerry by a 50.7 percent to 48.3 percent margin. Bush won 31 states, compared to Kerry’s 19.
Nor does Trump’s low approval rating at this point mean anything in terms of his reelection prospects.
As Gallup points out:
There are several examples when presidents who had nationwide approval ratings in the 40% range in the year before the election won a second term, including Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. All managed to get to 50% approval by the time of the presidential election. Trump has yet to attain that level in his presidency, but he will have the next 20 months to get to there, and to make the case to Americans that he deserves a second term.
Trump’s approval rating in the Gallup tracking poll — 45 percent — is identical to Obama’s at this same point in his presidency. It’s higher than Reagan’s, two points below Clinton’s.
And, just to underscore how meaningless approval ratings are this far out from a presidential election, George H.W. Bush’s approval rating at this point in his first term was 77 percent.
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