Those of us who consider politics a drug as necessary as our morning coffee are well acquainted with the cluttered front page of RealClearPolitics. Of special note are two numbers now affixed to the right-hand column of the page: the presidential polling average and the betting odds.
In terms of the polling average, Joe Biden is doing pretty well. As of Friday morning, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee was up over President Donald Trump on a national level by 5.3 points, 47.6 percent to 42.3 percent.
This has been a pretty consistent gap over the past two months since it became clear Biden would be the nominee. While it’s not the double-digit leads he was running last year, it’s still a pretty solid edge on a national level.
The other is the betting odds. This is the opposite of the polling data; here, the president is up 50.1 percent to 41.8 percent.
What’s the difference? What do bettors know that polls aren’t showing? Perhaps, as PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil notes, the difference can be sifted out from a recent poll.
O’Neil’s take is this: The major shift in the 2016 election, such as you might want to trust the polling data then, could be sensed from an ABC News/Washington Post poll released a little over a week before the vote.
Then, for the first time, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was more unpopular than Trump for the first time. Both candidates were wildly unpopular for a national election, but to the extent that poll subjects were being honest about how much they liked each candidate, things had taken a turn.
For Biden, at least in the latest Civiqs/Daily Kos poll, that moment has already come.
The survey, released Wednesday, “found that 55 percent of Americans view Trump as ‘unfavorable,’ while 43 percent view him as favorable, giving Trump a negative 12 percent approval rating,” O’Neil wrote.
“In the same poll, however, 56 percent of Americans view Joe Biden unfavorably, while only 34 percent view him favorably, giving the Democrat a negative 22 percent approval rating.”
Things go further than just this poll. HuffPost tracked Clinton’s favorability for quite some time and noted that during the same period in 2016, her favorability ratings were quite a bit higher.
“In early May, a CNN poll found 48 percent of Americans viewed Clinton favorably, while 49 percent had an unfavorable view, for a negative 1 percent rating,” O’Neil wrote. “Other polls placed her at negative 11 percent, negative 14 percent, negative 19 percent, negative 15 percent, negative 8 percent, and so on. Her average for the period between April 18 and May 15 was a negative 12.9 percent approval rating, below Trump’s current rating and far below Biden’s.”
t’s perhaps worth noting several things here.
First, these aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons. Different polls have different assumptions baked into them. Biden’s favorability in general tends to track above Trump’s, according to the RealClearPolitics averages.
As of Friday morning, Biden is at 41.0 percent favorable and 47.0 percent unfavorable, for a spread of minus-6.0. Trump’s favorable is at 41.8 percent, 52.4 percent unfavorable, for a spread of minus-10.6 percent. That’s still a fairly hefty spread.
Second, there’s the fact that Biden and Clinton are dealing with different problems at different moments. Biden’s favorability has trended consistently underwater as it’s become clear the Tara Reade allegations aren’t going anywhere. The last poll featuring him with a net favorable rating ended April 16.
Clinton, meanwhile, was always pretty unfavorable, although things would break badly for her later in the summer, as the Democratic National Committee emails began to leak and attention was focused on her own emails via then-FBI Director James Comey’s investigation being closed and then being reopened late in the game.
That all being said, this is a much different campaign from 2016, inasmuch as there’s no physical campaigning going on and Biden has a desperate gap in terms of his ability to campaign digitally with Trump.