A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows President Donald Trump having substantially cut into presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s lead over the past two weeks, shredding a 10-point Biden advantage and reducing it to just 2 points.
“The latest national telephone and online survey finds Biden at 47% support among Likely U.S. Voters again this week to Trump’s 45%,” the polling service said in a news release.
“Five percent (5%) prefer some other candidate. Four percent (4%) are undecided.”
The poll, conducted among 2,500 likely voters on July 15-16 and 19-21, had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 points.
While it’s worth noting the poll doesn’t necessarily follow the RealClearPolitics polling average — which has shown Biden with a consistent edge of about 8 to 10 points in national polls — it’s also worth noting Rasmussen’s survey recently hewed along those lines as well.
Earlier in the month, Rasmussen’s numbers showed Biden with a 50 percent to 40 percent advantage over Trump, according to the Washington Examiner. As the Examiner’s Paul Bedard noted, that poll was disheartening for Trump partisans for several reasons.
First, Rasmussen has always been perceived as having a GOP slant, even though it oversamples Democrats and black voters. Trump has made a point of citing Rasmussen, given that tendency.
Second, most voters didn’t care who the Democratic nominee was, so long as it wasn’t Trump — a problematic development, considering Biden’s frequent gaffes, lack of enthusiasm among his base and his tendency to appease the ascendant left-wing element of his party.
Third, the earlier poll showed Trump winning only 74 percent of the Republican vote, with 19 percent saying they would be voting for Biden; candidates usually need far more of an edge among their own voters to carry an election.
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That poll was the first in a series of weekly Rasmussen surveys the outfit plans to conduct until Election Day, however — and by July 15, Trump had closed to within 3 points, 47 percent to 44 percent. He closed an additional point in the last week.
Among other good news for Trump in the poll was a jump in his support among Republicans, now at 81 percent.
Biden captured only 74 percent of Democratic support — but he led among unaffiliated voters, 47 percent to 36 percent. Seventeen percent of those voters were either undecided or said they were voting for other candidates, however.
While Rasmussen tends toward the GOP side of things, it also uses likely voters as opposed to registered voters or just adults. The difference isn’t just semantic: Likely voters tend to be a more accurate predictor of final results, given that a registered voter pool can catch voters who might have an opinion but might not feel strongly enough about it to be inclined to cast a vote.
Especially in a race where Trump’s opposition is a man who seems to have gotten where he is through calling in decades of establishment favors and being the lowest common denominator in an ideologically fractured Democratic field, that difference could be a far more marked one than in years past.
There are other reasons the Trump campaign has been more sanguine about an otherwise grim slate of poll numbers for the president. As Bedard noted in his July 8 Examiner column, frustration over the media’s treatment of the president and the GOP, as well as backlash over continued unrest in many U.S. cities, could push discontented Republicans and independents into the Trump column.
Also, the president’s team has expressed confidence that polls are undercounting Trump votes the same way they did in 2016, given the perceived social undesirability of supporting the president.
To an extent, voters believe this is true, too. A Monmouth University survey out of Pennsylvania last week found Biden with a 13-point edge in the Keystone State. However, 46 percent of voters said they expected Trump to win the state, compared with only 45 percent who thought Biden would win.
One reason? Fifty-seven percent of those polled “believe there are a number of so-called secret voters in their communities who support Trump but won’t tell anyone about it.”
Of course, if that’s the case, we likely won’t know about it until Election Day.
As of right now, Rasmussen remains one of the outliers. The RealClearPolitics average shows Biden with an 8.7-point lead as of Thursday morning, not significantly changed from what we’ve seen over the past month or two.
Is it a harbinger of a shift? If the Trump campaign’s belief on the polls is accurate — that voters will tire of endless protests and media coverage that feels like a paid political advertisement — that’s very much a possibility.
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