First things first: The theme song of the week is the closing theme from “The High Chaparral.”
Poll of the week: A new Glengariff Group poll from the state of Michigan shows that former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in a hypothetical 2020 matchup by 53% to 41%.
This follows a January poll in which Biden was ahead of Trump by similar low-double-digit margins.
What’s the point: The 2020 election is a long way off. We don’t know what Trump will do over the next 17 months. We don’t know who the Democrats will nominate.
But Trump likely needs something to change if he wants to win reelection.
Biden, currently the Democratic frontrunner, has a clear lead over Trump in the state that had the closest margin in the 2016 presidential election.
And this Michigan poll was not the only survey out this week that indicates Trump’s reelection bid is currently in trouble.
A Quinnipiac University poll from Texas showed Biden ahead of Trump by 48% to 44%. This is a state that hasn’t voted Democratic in a presidential election since 1976. And while the Texas US Senate race was close in 2018, not one reputable presidential election poll at any point in any election cycle has even shown a Democratic presidential candidate ahead since 1992.
These polls come on top of previous data indicating how much trouble Trump would be in if the election were held today.
He trailed Biden by 11 points in a May Quinnipiac poll from Pennsylvania. This was a state that Trump won by a little less than a point after it had voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election from 1992 to 2012.
Nationally, we see the same thing. Biden has led Trump by 8 points in an average of polls taken since the beginning of the year.
It shouldn’t be surprising that, ahead of next year’s primary contests, Biden has a clear lead over Trump. It mostly lines up with what Trump’s approval rating suggests should be the case.
Take a look at Trump’s net approval (approval minus disapproval) ratings in last year’s exit polls:
With the exception of the Texas poll, Biden’s margin is within a point in each respective jurisdiction of Trump’s net approval rating in the exit polls last year. And even in Texas, Trump’s net approval in the exit poll looks a lot like the net approval rating Quinnipiac recorded recently of -1 point.
Perhaps most importantly, Trump’s deficit in each place is far greater than it was heading into the 2016 presidential election. As you may recall, Trump outperformed the final polls in 2016. Biden’s currently doing at least 8 points better in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas than Clinton was in the final polls in 2016. Nationwide, Biden’s doing about 5 points better against Trump than Clinton was heading into the 2016 election.
The bottom line is this: Trump’s clearly in the hole right now against Biden. He’s in a worse position than he was before the election in 2016. It’s very unlikely that a polling error can explain away the deficit Trump faces right now versus his most likely opponent.
Of course, there’s a good chance Trump won’t face Biden. For now, other potential Democratic candidates don’t do as well against Trump as Biden does on average. Most are ahead of Trump nationally, though by smaller margins on average.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont does lead Trump by the same margin in Michigan. However, none of the other Democrats leads in Texas. Much of Biden’s advantage over other Democrats in the general election probably has to do with the fact that he has higher name recognition than any candidate other than Sanders. Part of Biden’s advantage may also be because he is simply better liked among the general electorate than other Democrats at this point.
For Trump, the question of whether he’ll be a one-term President will rely on who his Democratic opponent is and whether Trump’s ratings rise by Election Day 2020.