Politics & Policy

Why You Should Ignore Every 2020 Poll

Joe Biden attends an Obamacare anniversary event on Capitol Hill in March 2017. (Reuters photo: Aaron P. Bernstein)
Presidential horse-race polls and rankings in 2014 excluded Trump.

Here is a recent headline that surely confounds young, hip, Democratic women looking forward to fresh, future leadership: “Poll: Biden holds double-digit lead over field of 2020 Dem presidential contenders.”

That headline is not a late-night comedy joke, but it could be, considering the following: Former vice president Joe Biden is a white male born in 1942. He will be 78 years old on Election Day 2020. Biden is a poster child for the much-disparaged label “Washington insider.” His pre-VP résumé virtually defines the establishment swamp: thirty-six years as a U.S. senator and two unsuccessful attempts at a presidential run, in 1987 and 2007. Biden also has a long record as a human gaffe machine, which is mostly lovingly dismissed as “Joe being Joe.” His collection of “greatest hits” includes this racially insensitive 2007 zinger about his future boss:

I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.

At this writing, that same Biden is traveling the nation, fundraising for candidates, headlining local Democratic dinners, promoting his book — generally feeling the love — while testing the shark-infested waters for a third presidential run. Biden is fully armed (or deluded) with the two-pronged notion that he is the only Democrat who can beat Trump in 2020 and that he could have won in 2016 if only he had run for president.

Biden must be encouraged not only by having the support of 27 percent of Democrats for the 2020 presidential nomination — leading Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) by eleven points — but also with chatter that he is Trump’s most feared general-election opponent. According to Politico, Team Trump is concerned that Biden competes for, and appeals to, the same white, working-class voters who helped Trump win in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Then on Tuesday, a new CNN poll confirms that Biden is not deluding himself by considering a third White House run. The poll shows Biden defeating Trump 57 to 40 percent, the widest winning margin of all the 2020 Democratic hopefuls. But the poll results (as much as any Republican can trust a CNN poll) also suggest that Biden is going to have a tough primary, given that Bernie Sanders also defeats Trump 55 to 42 percent. Even Oprah Winfrey trounces “The Donald” by 51 to 42 percent.

However, after the first year of Trump’s robust economy, with strong economic indicators and record-high consumer confidence, if those trends continue, it will be difficult for lovable old Joe to say with a straight face, “Elect me to bring back the Obama economy.”

The messaging for a potentially brutal Trump-vs.-Biden matchup is summarized by an educated, middle-aged Hispanic woman from a key swing state who told me last week: “I hate Trump, detest the man, but I love how my 401(k) is doing.” Her sentiment represents the greatest opportunity for Republicans in this year’s midterm election and looking forward to 2020.

Before Democrats get too giddy, or young women too discouraged, about the prospects of a recycled Joe Biden as their next nominee, it is instructive to look back at the long list of 2016 Republican presidential wannabes. In particular, check out this CNN poll report from December 29, 2014:

CNN/ORC Poll: Bush Surges to 2016 GOP Frontrunner

Jeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he’s “actively exploring” a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll found.

He takes nearly one-quarter — 23% — of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.

If you need more confirmation that Democrats (and Republicans) should ignore any and all 2020 horse-race polls or rankings before well into 2019, look at this Washington Post report written by two political experts, dated December 7, 2014, under the headline “Who’s most likely to end up as Republicans’ nominee in 2016 presidential race?”

Ranked one through ten, in first place was Kentucky senator Rand Paul. Second was then–New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Third was former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Fourth was Florida senator Marco Rubio, followed by a list of distinguished Republican officeholders.

Question: Who is not mentioned on the Post’s December 2014 list of ten?

Hint: At the moment he sits in the Oval Office.

In politics, always expect the unexpected. Just ask Presidents Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore.

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Myra Adams — Myra Adams is a media producer and writer who served on the McCain Ad Council during the 2008 McCain campaign and on the 2004 Bush campaign creative team. Her writing ...

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