Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE is 14 points ahead of President Trump in the latest New York Times/Sienna poll. He was also 14 points ahead in the most recent CNN poll. In other recent polls, he’s been up anywhere from six points to double digits. The battleground state polls also spell good news for the former vice president and huge trouble for Trump. Trump is behind in six states that he won in 2016.
While all these polls must make Democrats and Biden supporters giddy, they should actually be cause for some concern. A double-digit advantage this early can lead to complacency and neglect. It certainly did in 2016, both by the nominee and voters. Democrats can’t let that happen again.
The Biden campaign is correctly taking these polls with the proverbial grain of salt. Biden is running with urgency and intentionality, while smartly staying out of the way of Trump’s daily self-sabotage.
Trump supporters suggest hopefully that this could be a repeat of 2016, when the national polls and most pundits predicted that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE would win the election. (Of course, she did win the popular vote). But the battleground state polls told the wrong story.
We should assume that the same thing could be happening now. Anecdotally, I am told by pollsters and journalists that many Trump supporters are reticent to speak to pollsters and that, when they do, they sometimes don’t acknowledge that they will vote for him. Trump and his supporters call this the “silent majority.”
But that theory is limited. Members of the silent majority who propelled Trump to victory in 2016 have had more than three years to assess Trump’s performance, and many are appalled by what they’ve seen.
Perhaps the most notable is George ConwayGeorge ConwayGeorge Conway: DeSantis plans for new police force to monitor elections 'just pathetic' George Conway: GOP blocking Jan. 6 commission 'more appalling' than both Trump acquittals Press: Get orange jumpsuit ready: extra large MORE, husband of Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayPennsylvania Republican David McCormick launches Senate campaign McCormick drawing support from Trump alumni ahead of Pennsylvania Senate bid Christie says Trump, Meadows should have warned him of positive COVID-19 test MORE, Trump’s outspoken senior adviser.
In a tweet earlier this year, Conway conceded that he voted for Trump thinking he would get something he never got. Conway thought Trump was “acting” in 2016, that he would “pivot’” once he got into office and that he would act “presidential” and try to unify the country.
That was never going to happen, and never will. The disappointment is felt not just by famous pundits who have made a name for themselves by opposing Trump. We see it clearly in the polls, and these are the numbers that should be keeping Trump and his advisers up at night. Trump is losing white support in the key battleground states.
Trump is also losing independents. Coupled with the loss of white women voters, it spells disaster for him. He won both groups in 2016 and probably cannot be reelected without them in 2020.
More worrisome for Trump is his loss of support among non-college educated white women. His support among that key demographic has fallen from 61 percent to 50 percent. If Trump is not able to rehabilitate these numbers, it is hard to see how he gets re-elected.
The dive in the polls seems to be a result of Trump’s mishandling of several unanticipated crises. The COVID-19 pandemic, the forced economic shutdown, the racial violence and social unrest, and the recent new spikes in COVID cases have all contributed to Trump’s falling poll numbers.
But instead of acting to steady the decline, Trump seems intent on fueling it. Some pundits even believe he is intentionally sabotaging his own re-election.
For example, this week the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act without anything to replace it. The administration did this as the country hit the morbid milestone of more than 120,000 deaths due to COVID.
Couple that with Trump’s continuing to downplay the severity of the pandemic, announcing at a rally that he asked his team to “slow down testing” so that case numbers wouldn’t rise, using the pandemic as a punch line for his most avid supporters at rallies, mocking mask wearers and using racially insensitive language, and one can easily conclude that perhaps he doesn’t want to get re-elected after all.
Trump himself said during a recent interview that Biden may win because “some people don’t love me.”
The Trump Train seems intent on a derailment. Trump’s actions, his poll numbers, his despondent advisers who speak anonymously all point to that outcome.
But Democrats cannot rest on their laurels. Biden and his supporters cannot take anything for granted. They need to believe that the polls are wrong, that Biden is behind or running neck-and-neck with Trump. They need do everything they can to energize and mobilize their voters if they want to beat Trump in November.
Maria Cardona is a longtime Democratic strategist and co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's rules and bylaws committee for the party's 2020 convention. She is a principal at Dewey Square Group, a Washington-based political consulting agency, and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.