Debunk This by Matt Palumbo

An explosive Fox News poll appears to spell doom for President Donald Trump in finding that he’s an underdog against every main 2020 Democrat presidential candidate. The report, which came as a shocker to everyone that’s tuned into the debates, asked “If the 2020 presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were” the following head-to-heads:

  • Joe Biden (50%), Donald Trump (38%)
  • Bernie Sanders (48%), Donald Trump (39%)
  • Kamala Harris (45%), Donald Trump (39%)
  • Elizabeth Warren (46%), Donald Trump (39%)

While I’m hardly accusing Fox News of all places of rigging the numbers against Trump, it must be mentioned that their sample is 48% Democrat to 40% Republican. As of 2017 (the last year the Pew Research Center has data), there were 4 percentage points more Republicans than Democrats nationally, so polling 8 percentage points more Democrats than Republicans is certain to skew results. And obviously, quite a bit can change in the nearly two-years before the election. With the exception of Biden, few candidates have had any notable gaffes. Nor do the polls account for the fact that the electoral college makes it polling at the state-level more relevant than nationally. Trump can logistically lose the popular vote by over five million votes and still win the election.

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That aside, let’s move onto the “why” favor behind the results.

Democrat strategist Mary Anne Marsh lead with this poll in an op-ed making the case for Trump’s inevitable 2020 defeat. In an argument that appears to refute her overall thesis, she writes that “Not only does Trump lose, but his [approval] numbers are also stuck in the high 30s. The president has only broken out of the 30s on this measure once since 2015, when he hit 40 percent in March 2019.” If Trump’s approval was stuck in the high 30s all throughout 2015 through November 2016, and it’s only now he’s broken out of that threshold once recently in March, how would this be a problem for him in 2020 when it wasn’t in 2016?

Marsh then points out from the same poll that “If that wasn’t bad enough, a staggering 59% of voters think Trump is tearing the country apart.” Do we have anyone to blame except the media for that? Well over 90% of Trump coverage is negative, and at many times Trump is criticized for similar policies Obama never faced any flack for (such as family separation at the border, and the quality of detention facilities). Nor is there much chance for the right-wing to present their case on the airwaves. While Republicans make up 47% of Congress, they make up only 18% of the guests on CNN, and 7% of the guests on MSNBC.

As a result, most of the information that liberals and independents (the majority of the electorate) receive is left-wing. So skewed are things that as a survey from Gallup and the Knight Foundation found, conservatives consume more liberal media than liberals and moderates consume conservative media – combined (and I have no idea why the study is broken down by race):

Moving onto gun control, Marsh notes that “Overall, 52% disapprove of the way Trump handled the latest mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, while 46% believe he has made the country less safe from a mass shooting by an American citizen.” Again, this reinforces my last point that people are believing nonsense because that’s the narrative being presented. There were far more mass shootings per year under Barack Obama, and the majority of the most dangerous mass shootings occurred under his tenure. Marsh also notes that most people support gun control laws that already exist (that the media pretends don’t), writing “The poll also shows that 90 percent support criminal background checks.” She also notes that two-thirds of Americans support a ban on semi-automatic weapons, which must reflect general ignorance at what “semi-automatic” means, because a ban on semi-autos would imply a ban on nearly all firearms (which nearly everyone opposes when the question is phrased as such). She then cites polls suggesting the overwhelming popularity of “red flag laws” – a concept which the nation hasn’t even had more than a few weeks to reflect on.

Even if we were to grant Marsh’s statistics at face value, what’s relevant when it comes to Trump’s re-electibility isn’t his individual popularity on various issues, it’s his popularity on issues that people value the most. It doesn’t matter if 100% of voters disagree with Trump on an issue they barely think about in the first place, does it? According to a RealClearPolitics survey, the biggest issues among 2020 voters doesn’t even firearms, but rather healthcare, the economy, and immigration. The left’s solutions to those issues (such as Medicare for all regarding healthcare) tend to poll extremely well – until you include the price tag.

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Lastly, Marsh points to Trump’s dwindling popularity among women. “When you look at the cross tabs of the Fox Poll it is clear women have turned on Trump in such large numbers and across so many demographics it is impossible to ignore … or change. Women of every color, age, and income reject Trump in this poll. Trump’s job disapproval rating with women is 59% overall. It’s 52% among white women and 77% with non-white women.”

In response to that argument, it’s worth quoting the headline of a Washington Post article: “Donald Trump is facing an apocalyptic election scenario, thanks to women voters.” The headline is from October 13th, 2016, by the way, and was based on a poll finding only 28% support nationally for Trump among women. As poor as the data reflected in the poll Marsh is citing is, it reflects an improvement since election day, and that’s the trend that matters.

So is Trump doomed or guaranteed to win in 2020? I’ll be the first op-ed columnist to admit that the data is simply just not conclusive at this point.