A new Monmouth University Poll would ordinarily have Joe Biden feeling pretty good.
But what it also says regarding what independent voters think about Tara Reade’s allegations are going to have his people doing anything but celebrating.
The poll, released Wednesday, showed Biden with a 9-point lead nationally over President Donald Trump among registered voters.
Biden garnered 50 percent support, compared to Trump with 41 percent. Meanwhile, 3 percent said they would go for an independent and 5 percent were undecided.
Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash changes things a bit, with a caveat.
In that matchup, Biden gets 47 percent, Trump 40 percent and Amash — the libertarian-leaning dissident Republican who left the party last year and announced his intention to run for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president late last month — gets 5 percent.
The caveat: “During the last presidential cycle, Gary Johnson started his presidential bid as a Libertarian with 11% support in a March 2016 Monmouth poll. His poll standing dropped to 5% by October and he ended up earning just 3% of the national vote,” Monmouth pollsters announced in a news release.
“Biden’s lead continues to build even as overall opinion of him remains soft. It’s possible that recent headlines about a sexual assault claim may have had an impact on his favorability rating, but most voters still see this election mainly as a referendum on Trump,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling institute, said.
The question is how long that remains the case, particularly if the numbers on Reade’s accusation among independent voters continue along their current lines.
“Most voters (86%) have heard about an allegation that Biden may have sexually assaulted a woman who worked in his U.S. Senate office in the 1990s,” the news release said.
“The electorate is divided on the validity of this allegation — 37% say it is probably true, 32% say it is probably not true, and 31% have no opinion. Opinion on this question breaks sharply along partisan lines. More Republicans say the allegation is probably true (50%) than not true (17%) while more Democrats say is it is probably not true (55%) than true (20%).”
But then, it’s the independents who will likely decide the election — and they aren’t entirely Reade-agnostic.
“Independents are more likely to feel that the allegation is true (43%) rather than not true (22%), while 35% have no opinion either way,” the pollsters found.
“Overall, men (39% true and 29% not true) are slightly more likely than women (35% true and 34% not true) to believe the charge against Biden.”
“We don’t know what impact this allegation will have in the long run,” Murray said.
“For some voters who believe the charge, it is still not enough to override their desire to oust Trump. The outlook is murkier for those who don’t have an opinion on it. This group includes a number of Democratic-leaning independents who could potentially be swayed if this story grows in importance.”
In terms of methodology, the news release noted: “The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 30 to May 4, 2020 with 808 adults in the United States. The results in this release are based on 739 registered voters and have a +/- 3.6 percentage point sampling margin of error.”
What should be compelling is if these numbers from independents break along current lines.
As it stands right now, nearly twice as many independents are leaning toward believing Tara Reade than are leaning toward not doing so. That’s a huge margin and for a group that decided the election during the last cycle, and will likely do so again.
Biden can’t afford to lose independents in 2020 the same way Hillary Clinton lost them in 2016.
If these numbers hold until November — and if we find out more about the Tara Reade allegations or if more women accuse Biden of sexual misconduct — his overall lead isn’t going to hold.
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