by Christopher Gage
President Trump’s political obituaries count more reincarnations than a Hindu lifetime. Perhaps, a slate of polls this week show yet another rebirth.
The president is surging in key battleground states, and at the national level, with 2016’s most accurate pollsters showing Trump en route to battleground victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, and Arizona.
At the national level, the Investor’s Business Daily (IBD)/ TechnoMetrica Institute of Politics and Policy (TIPP) presidential election tracking poll has just four points between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, that gap flirting with just two points last week. That poll finds the president surpassing, at 46.3 percent, his 2016 number.
Crucially, IBD says Trump has his largest lead yet among seniors, and his smallest deficit among women, while Biden’s lead with independents matches its previous low of just two points.
Despite Biden’s lead, IBD finds 50 percent think their neighbors will vote Trump, while 35 percent say that of Biden. Historically, voter expectation is more accurate than voter intention, and an indicator of shy voters.
Over at Rasmussen, the president’s approval rating hit 51 percent from Monday’s 52 percent high. Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll also finds the race at just two points and within the margin of error.
Rasmussen on Monday had Trump leading Biden by 48 percent to 47 percent. Today, Biden is at 49 percent to Trump’s 47 percent—a statistical dead-heat. Biden was 12 points ahead according to that same metric four weeks ago.
Trump’s 51 percent approval rating is four points higher than President Obama’s 47 percent approval on the same day in 2012, during Obama’s successful reelection bid.
Of course, the state level is where it really matters.
As a new Center for American Greatness/Insider Advantage poll of likely voters shows, Pennsylvania voters are shifting toward the president as the presidential election campaign enters its final days. President Trump now leads with 48 percent to Joe Biden’s 46 percent in a state crucial to both nominees’ chances of capturing the presidency.
The same poll just two weeks ago showed Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by three points.
Back then, that poll also found the Trump campaign struggling with voters over 65, a worrying sign given those voters form the backbone of Republican support.
Yet, since the last presidential debate, the InsiderAdvantage poll shows Trump gaining with older voters and picking up support from younger voters heavily opposed to future COVID-19 lockdowns proposed by Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Strikingly, Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantage found Trump pulling 14 percent of the African American vote in Pennsylvania—near double his 8 percent national take in 2016—a notion, he said, completely alien to his 20 years in polling.
Pennsylvania is proving problematic for the Democrats. According to the New York Times, Biden is struggling in Philadelphia, running 10 points behind Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin. President Trump is currently nine points ahead of where he was in 2016 when he won that state.
The Trafalgar Group, widely recognized as the most accurate state pollster in 2016, today says the president has taken the lead in Pennsylvania with 48.4 percent to Biden’s 47.6 percent of the vote.
Earlier this month, Trafalgar showed President Trump edging Joe Biden in the crucial states of Michigan, Florida, and Arizona, and the political winds swelling behind President Trump.
Trafalgar also finds President Trump leading Joe Biden in North Carolina with 49 percent to the Democratic nominee’s 46 percent.
These states are key to the president’s reelection strategy. Winning the “Core Three” of Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona would leave the Trump campaign needing just one pick-up from the Rust Belt states to put him over 270 electoral college votes.
The Trafalgar Group is routinely derided by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight. Yet, Trafalgar earned the title of 2016’s most accurate pollster in a year which Nate Silver gave Hillary Clinton a 71 percent chance of victory. Silver this week gave Trump a 12 percent chance of victory.
Trafalgar was the only pollster to predict Trump’s 2016 wins in Pennsylvania and Michigan. And more recently, Trafalgar was the only pollster to predict the Florida gubernatorial race for Ron DeSantis. The RCP average had Democrat Andrew Gillum some four points ahead going into Election Day.
What does Trafalgar’s chief pollster Robert Cahaly do differently? He accounts for a “hidden Trump vote,” which he says is even greater now than it was four years ago.
Last week, he told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity he expected a Trump win.
“I see the president winning with a minimum high 270s and possibly going up significantly higher based on just how big this undercurrent is,” Cahaly said. “What we’ve noticed is that these polls are predominantly missing the hidden Trump vote. There is a clear feeling among conservatives and people that are for the president that they’re not interested in sharing their opinions readily,” he added. “These people are more hesitant to participate in polls. So, if you’re not compensating for this, you’re not going to get honest answers.”
Some observers reject the shy voter theory despite strong evidence to the contrary. The Democracy Institute, whose monthly polls have shown since June the president either winning or levelling the popular vote, find over 70 percent of Trump voters are reluctant to divulge their choice.
The Institute’s latest work finds President Trump leading Joe Biden by 46 percent to 45 percent. Trump’s lead in key swing states including Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin sits at four percent from 47 percent to Biden’s 43 percent.
This gives a projected Electoral College split of 320 to Trump and 218 to Biden.
Like Trafalgar, Democracy Institute director Patrick Basham said the hidden Trump vote has swelled since 2016, heightening since a summer of riots and protests following the death of George Floyd.
Indeed, a recent study found nearly two-thirds of Americans were reticent to express their political beliefs for fear of social reprisals.
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Christopher Gage is a British political journalist.