New VCU poll: Anti-Trump fervor key to Biden electoral chances

Trump v Biden 2020

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It’s not Joe Biden, as much as it is that Joe Biden isn’t Donald Trump. That’s the potentially sobering finding in a new VCU poll, which pegs roughly half of the support for the Democrat as being a vote against the president.

The poll of Virginia voters puts 49 percent of self-ID’d Biden supporters as saying that their vote is an anti-Trump choice, and 49 percent as saying that their vote is pro-Biden.

Trump voters, significantly, are actively pro-Trump – 77 percent of those polled say their vote is for Trump, and 20 percent say it is anti-Biden.

The findings could suggest elasticity in support for the challenger, who is up big in Virginia, by 12 points, with Biden’s support in Virginia at 51 percent.

In a typical election cycle, the soft support for Biden could be something that would be ripe for exploitation by a late-in-the-game surprise.

As we know, though, 2020 is anything but typical.

Specific to the 2020 election, the early-voting trends unique to the 2020 cycle have already locked in a huge number of votes.

According to data from the Virginia Public Access Project, more than 2.3 million early votes have already been cast either in person or by mail, with an additional 300,000 mail-in ballots still outstanding.

For a frame of reference, there were just under 4 million votes cast in Virginia in the 2016 presidential cycle, so where we are right now is at 57.9 percent of that total, with in-person early voting continuing through Saturday, and mail-in ballots being accepted through Election Day.

With early voting trending strong in Democratic-vote-rich Northern Virginia, Richmond, Hampton Roads and Charlottesville-Albemarle, a late surprise along the lines of the James Comey email controversy that dated to Oct. 28, 2016, can’t have the same impact in 2020, even with the soft support for Biden among his supporters.

The earlier date for the election this cycle is another factor – Oct. 28, 2016, was still 11 days from Election Day, which was Nov. 8 in 2016.

Today, Oct. 29, is five days from Nov. 3.

The clock, in other words, is running out for Trump, who is down 9.0 points in the FiveThirtyEight.com national average and 7.5 points in the Real Clear Politics national average.

Frame of reference: five days out in the 2016 cycle, FiveThirtyEight.com had Clinton up 3.0 points, and Real Clear Politics had the race at Clinton +1.3.

Clinton ended up winning the popular vote by 2.1 points, splitting the difference between the forecasts.

It’s getting to be pretty safe to assume that we know now who is going to come out on top in 2020.

The soft support that you’re seeing registered in the VCU poll, which is also being borne out in other state and national polls, would suggest that Biden still needs to win over millions of the voters without whom he wouldn’t be in the position he’s in now.

While the clock is running out for Trump, it’s already ticking for Biden, for whom the next election isn’t four years, but rather two years, the 2022 midterms, away.

Story by Chris Graham


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