Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 3, 835 registered voters were polled by Monmouth University regarding their takes on the 2020 presidential candidates.
A series of questions were given to them in order to see where they stood at this point in the interminable campaign season.
Last Wednesday, the results to five of the questions were released. Few of the queries yielded surprise results. Question 8 asked whether voters wanted to see Trump re-elected or a new resident in the Oval Office. Forty-two percent wanted to see him re-elected, and 55 percent wanted to see him booted.
On question 11, Democrats and Democrat-leaning respondents were asked who their first preference was for the 2020 nomination; 23 percent each said former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 20 percent said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 9 percent said South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and a gaggle of other candidates currently setting fire to donors’ money each got 5 percent or less.
On question 12, Democrat voters were asked whether or not they were happy with the current field of contenders. A resounding 74 percent said yes while only 16 percent said no.
It was question 13 that should have set off klaxons in the heads of both Democrats reading the results and pollsters compiling them.
It was phrased like this: “I’m going to read you the names of some people who are running for president in 2020. Please tell me if your general impression of each is very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. If you have not heard of the person, just let me know.”
We’re going to start with the “very favorable” and “somewhat favorable” categories.
Biden: 18 percent “very favorable,” 25 percent “somewhat favorable.”
Sanders: 20 percent “very favorable,” 21 percent “somewhat favorable.”
Warren: 20 percent “very favorable,” 22 percent “somewhat favorable.”
California Sen. Kamala Harris (still somehow considered a serious candidate): 8 percent “very favorable,” 19 percent “somewhat favorable.”
Buttigieg: 9 percent “very favorable,” 18 percent “somewhat favorable.”
President Donald Trump: 34 percent “very favorable,” 10 percent “somewhat favorable” — in other words, his total favorability rating of 44 percent is higher than that of any of the Democrats.
Pretty huge news.
Title of the survey results: “Trump 2020 Reelect Stable: Warren and Sanders catch up to Biden on ‘electability.'” Because of course, amirite?
Now it won’t surprise you to learn that Trump’s unfavorable ratings are high — in fact, the highest of the field. He’s at 50 percent “very unfavorable” at the moment.
Just in case you’re emerging from a Bio-Dome-like experiment which involved you being cut off from the world for two years, this is a guy who’s probably going to get impeached by a preternaturally cutthroat Democrat House of Representatives.
On the other hand, this isn’t as bad as you might think for three reasons.
First, the candidate with the lowest “very unfavorable” rating is Buttigieg, who sits at 21 percent. Unless you have some sort of anaphylactic reaction to boredom, Buttigieg is the electoral equivalent of Cream of Wheat. He has no positions, no personality and no outfit that doesn’t involve a Macy’s dress shirt and that tie you wore back in high school when coach made you dress up on game days.
The rest of the candidates all have a “very unfavorable” rating of 33 percent or above, with Sanders topping off at 40 percent.
The second thing you may have noticed is that there’s one category I haven’t touched on yet: “somewhat unfavorable.” This, again, doesn’t work out handsomely for the Democrats.
As Donald Rumsfeld once phrased it poetically, there are known knowns and there are known unknowns.
Trump is very much a known known. This January, we’ll have had three years of him in office. It’s been a period full of surprises — which, paradoxically, was hardly a surprise at all, given he’s the first president to not come out of the political or military establishment. He’s a known quantity, and a known quantity who plenty of people hate.
However, when it comes to the other candidates, they’re known unknowns: We know the basics but we don’t know the results.
So, as for the somewhat unfavorables for Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris and Buttigieg? Seventeen percent, 14 percent, 9 percent, 13 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Donald Trump? Four percent. Add them all up and the Democratic candidates’ net unfavorables aren’t that far off from Trump’s.
Now, you may point out the same could necessarily be said for Trump’s favorability ratings. However, given all the bile heaped upon him since the moment he came down the escalator, you’d expect those to be far lower, not higher.
And that segues nicely into the third point: Quoth a football maxim, the most popular player in town is the backup quarterback.
For a guy who we’ve been told is a disaster for America and a threat to democracy and global stability, at least according to this poll, it seems the starting quarterback is actually popular-ish. No, he might not be leaps and bounds more popular than the second-stringers. I’m assuming you’ve seen CNN sometime lately? Were you expecting him to be?
What’s clear is that Trump has an enthusiastic core of supporters, something we’ve been consistently told throughout modern political history is the key to winning the presidential election. (Now, of course, we’re told that an enthusiastic core of Trump supporters is a result of latent fascistic tendencies among knuckle-draggers with a propensity to wear red hats.)
Another interesting thing to point out is that the guy who this should have helped out here isn’t receiving much help at all. After all, the establishment media won’t stop saying — again and again — that Biden was the political opponent who Trump was leaning on Ukraine to dig up dirt on.
Again, the media has vouchsafed to us that the miasma surrounding Hunter Biden’s highly remunerated sinecure in a company where he didn’t understand the language in a corporate sector where he had no experience — or the potential conflict of interest when his father pressured the Ukrainians to fire a prosecutor who had investigated or was investigating that company — is nothing more than a conspiracy theory cooked up by Republican operatives (specifically Rudy Giuliani, recast as G. Gordon Liddy by the media in the Watergate reboot). Given that background, surely there’s a sympathy vote for Biden, right?
Well, no. He has some of the highest negatives of all Democrat in the field, and probably not because of his history of gaffes.
I cannot claim clairvoyance in the matter, but I’m going to guess America’s not quite buying what the media is saying. (To be fair, Biden’s numbers have seen a slight uptick, although hardly anything like what you’d have expected to see if l’affaire Burisma didn’t fit in with the impression voters already had of Biden.)
And let me point out that the numbers that look bad for Trump in these poll results actually aren’t so bad.
That 42 percent of respondents who wanted to see him re-elected may appear malodorous to Trump boosters, especially when you consider that 55 percent want to see a new president. Nevertheless, according to the New York Post, the 42 percent is actually the highest he’s been at in months.
Impeachment-mania, in short, has only helped his standing. This isn’t even counting the Bradley effect, which one would need to be profoundly ignorant to assume doesn’t play into Trump’s polling numbers.
“It’s important not to read too much into differences within the margin of error,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.
“But the fact that there is no significant change in the current results suggests that the opening salvo of the House impeachment inquiry has had little impact on the overall 2020 dynamic. Voter opinion remains baked in.”
That’s not a good thing for Democrats.
Where, pray tell, is their killer app for beating Trump? It wasn’t too long ago that the establishment media was busy wringing their hands over the underperformance of Biden and Harris and the fact that Buttigieg didn’t have the experience and hadn’t demonstrated his seaworthiness thus far.
Hillary Clinton is still reportedly thinking about entering the race. If she doesn’t, news broke late Monday that another establishment favorite — former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — is considering a last-minute run.
And as for the non-establishment candidates? Look at the polls.
In swing states, Sanders and Warren are electoral cyanide. Is that going to change between now and the convention?
Is Warren going to convince us a wealth tax is a moderate idea? Will Sanders somehow shed his image of being — to quote Woody Allen from “Annie Hall” — “one of those guys with saliva dribbling out of his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria with a shopping bag screaming about socialism?”
Over at Breitbart, John Nolte had some other worthwhile takeaways.
“According to the Real Clear Politics poll of polls, Trump currently enjoys a relatively healthy job approval rating of 44 percent, and the polls gauging impeachment have either stalled or are losing altitude. Monmouth has Trump’s job approval at 45 percent,” Nolte wrote.
“Most telling, at least in my opinion, is that impeachment has not boosted the cable news ratings. Far-left CNN is actually attracting fewer viewers when compared to last year. This shows an extraordinary amount of voter indifference towards impeachment. Americans just don’t see impeachment as a big deal, as anything more than just another partisan food fight.”
“If voters believed there was an actual crime here, cable news ratings would be through the roof, and Trump’s favorability, reelect, and job approval ratings would not be on the upswing,” he added.
That’s more important than we think. If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re a politics junkie. Most people who will enter the ballot box a year from now won’t be. We assume impeachment will be looming large over people’s votes.
Evidence suggests otherwise.
For those of you who remember Watergate — or weren’t old enough, but read about it like myself — it could reasonably be called the very first reality show. When the hearings came on TV, America ground to a halt. The series finale — Aug. 8, 1974 — was a watershed moment in American history.
The Bill Clinton impeachment took place in a different era of reality TV — a nastier era, one where topping Puck vs. Pedro was difficult. Clintongate delivered. Quick, see if you can recite the rest of this line: “I did not have sexual relations …” You could have been born post-9/11 and I guarantee you know the rest of the words to that. C-SPAN was never so entertaining.
It’s early days yet, and no impeachment inquiry has been covered with the breathlessness that this one has been. But, ask a non-political junkie friend of yours to name one moment that hasn’t involved House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff saying something that made your eyes roll.
If they come up with one, they’ve spent too much time in airports.
It’s not that we’re not interested because we’ve grown ignorant and intellectually lazy. It’s not because we’ve become less interested in politics.
In the era of Trump, politics is pretty much the only culture we have that doesn’t involve the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s just that we know a nothingburger when we’re served one — particularly when we were just served a nothingburger by one Robert Mueller.
Support for the impeachment inquiry is dropping both significantly and consistently. Most of the testimony implicating Trump is looking like hearsay. A majority of respondents in a recent poll expect Trump to be re-elected. And now we have this.
Remember, 74 percent of Democrats in the Monmouth poll say they’re happy with the field they have at the moment. If you’re a Trump supporter, you’d better hope they are.
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