One of the legacies of my what, 40 years in journalism has been an unhealthy interest in national opinion polling. Why is this unhealthy? Because people are changing their minds all of the time and what’s the value of knowing what they thought at a given moment when some polling company called them?
I did a story about the process once and found most people were not flattered at all about being questioned. Some people told me they always, not once in a while, aways lie when they get these kinds of calls. Some people just want to get the interrogator off the damned phone.
But over a long period of time, I have come to respect that business enough to understand there are some things that can be well measured, and that it pays to keep an eye on them just so you know what’s happening out in the nation.
One of the current fund raising passions on the Democratic/liberal side of things is that we simply have to contribute to an array of causes to make certain Donald Trump never gets his fat butt near the Oval Office again. I agree with that sentiment, but I think it’s a little deceptive to use it as a fund raising tool.
You need a big, strong base to win the general election in the presidential race. True, factions and interests and other things can conspire, sometimes unknowingly, to deliver surprises in primary elections. But by the the time a candidate reaches the big day, the nation has sliced and diced itself into just the right parts of politics to pull off an election. This is how Joe Biden won in 2020, not necessarily by cleaning Donald Trump’s clock, but by assembling just enough voters to have a strong edge of millions of votes when the results were tabulated.
Voila! A new president is born.
We’ve seen it all before, of course.
The question I always have is what about the losers, what happens to them? Democrats go to the desert resorts to peer into their own navels and ask what could possibly have gone wrong. Republicans, especially post Trump Republicans, seem to just skulk off into a corner, drink their own bile and oppose just about everything progressive anyone can come up with.I think of it as Demon Land!
I can prove this because I have lots of polls. Actually, all the polls. I get them online from Pollingreport.com, which leaves no question unasked, no result not collected. It packages them and sends them out and you can read them and feel informed.
So what do they show?
The number 30 percent or so keeps popping up whenever you ask anything about what President Biden is trying to accomplish. That, I would suggest, is the Republican base burping on its bile and skulking. The number is consistent across many polls and on many questions.
“Do you think Joe Biden legitimately won enough votes to win the presidency, or not?”
That was a CNN poll question in January. I know, that’s along time ago now, but still, the answer is revealing. 65 percent, in other words, far the most of us, thought Biden legitimately won. 32 percent, which I would suggest is the new, modern Republican base, said he did not. This number can shift a bit depending on the question, but I like to think of it as “about a third of us” no matter the result, just so it is within spitting distance of that 30 percent.
“Do you think President Trump is responsible for inciting violence against the government of the United States or don’t you think so?”
That one is from a Quininipiac University Poll about halfway through January.
59 percent of the respondents said he was, and, there’s that group again, 39 percent said they didn’t think so.
Monmouth University asked in January “Now that Biden is in office, do you feel its time to move on or will you never accept Biden as president?
63 percent said move on, but 32 percent said they would never accept Biden as president.
All of these numbers intrigue me, but I’m not certain why. I think if you look at any president over time, there is a bloc of about a third of people questioned who say its not going well, or they don’t like him, or whatever. It’s a consistent third.
The thing about that is that a third of the electorate is not enough to elect anyone in the general election. And that should help console the Trump haters and upset the Trump backers. It’s not much of a base to build a movement on.
Sure, he got elected once in what I still view as a fluke, an expensive, troubling fluke. But I don’t think he can do it again. Remember, these numbers were from January, and probably have declined somewhat in the interim.
The fact he is hated enough to remain a funding tool is interesting. It works for partisans, but I don’t think the pitch is at all accurate.