[guest post by Dana]
Axios reports why no one should count Trump out just yet, and why he could still take the election:
He’s doing better in some swing-state polls than he was at this point in 2016. And his floor of support holds strong, regardless of what he says or does.
Not only is the stock market on fire, but a lot of blue-collar workers in building, plumbing and other manual crafts are doing quite well, too.
Trump’s big bet is that there are a lot of working class voters, especially in rural areas, who did not vote in 2016 but will this time.
His other bet is that months of dumping on Joe Biden, often with lies or wild hyperbole, will do what he did to Hillary Clinton: Make the Democratic nominee seem slightly more unpalatable than himself.
The New York Times profiled a swath of Trump’s steadfast supporters who “outlined myriad reasons for wanting to re-elect him, ranging from the pragmatic … to a gut-level attraction to his hard-nosed personality.”
And the “social desirability” factor in polling — do we tell the blunt truth? — is a huge unknown this year because of the new attention to racial issues.
Behind the scenes: People in Trump’s orbit feel much better about the race than they did in mid-June.
These officials feel the operation is becoming more disciplined, and is more centered around a message — that Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris embrace leftist policies, and won’t stand up to the violent excesses of the far left.
An interesting difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is the likability factor. Trump supporters discount this as anything meaningful. When asked about how likable they think Trump is, there is often a reflexive and vigorous defense offered: “Well, he may not be likable, but he tells it like it is!”. And it’s true: 2016 certainly showed us that a swath of Americans not only didn’t mind, but actually embraced a bombastic blowhard who offends people on a seemingly daily basis. But clearly, likability matters to voters. Consider who Trump ran against in 2016. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Hillary Clinton has never topped any list of most likable politicians or public figures. Just ask Barack Obama. During the 2016 election campaign, no matter how hard (and awkwardly) she tried to convince us that she wasn’t a shrill and disapproving scold, we saw through it because history had already taught us otherwise. Biden, however, is a different animal. People like Biden, not just as a politician, but as a person. He has created long-lasting friendships with people from all walks of life as well as from across the political aisle. He has a likability quotient that Hillary could only dream about.
Anyway, the report points to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll looking at the undecideds who could help close the Biden-Trump gap to Trump’s benefit:
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed that just 13% of voters say their vote is up for grabs in the presidential election. That is compared with 50% who say there is no chance they will support President Trump and 37% who say there is no chance they will support presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The up-for-grabs or persuadable voters are people who said that they currently don’t support either Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden or that they back one candidate but still might vote for the other. The small size of that group underscores the divisions in the nation’s politics. Still, they could have an outsize impact on the results. For Mr. Trump, who had 40% of support from all registered voters in the poll to Mr. Biden’s 51%, winning them over is one pathway to close the gap.
“Right now, Trump’s down 11 points. This is a group he’s got to run the table with. He’s got to win all of them,” said Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt, who worked on the survey with Republican Bill McInturff.
An important note:
It also found Trump’s standing with Hispanics is as good if not better than 2016 — and had improved his image by 20 points among whites, who are more than 70% of the electorate.
And from this week, a reminder about how the undecideds helped push Trump to victory in 2016, and why they are just as critical in 2020:
As stark as the differences are between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, millions of Americans can’t seem to choose between them. They’re the 10 percent of prospective voters who, with less than three months to go until the election, are still technically “undecided:” They haven’t made up their minds between the Republican and Democratic nominees, currently back third-party candidates or, at this point, just don’t care. Analysts say there are fewer undecideds this year than in 2016, when a surge of last-minute converts to Trump among them helped decide the election. But it’s still a sizable enough cohort—particularly in key battleground states—to potentially determine the 2020 result. “They are a relatively small population but they are certainly enough to alter the outcome,” says Chris Jackson, head of public polling at Ipsos.
Question: Does Trump readjust his tone and messaging to reach the undecideds, and if he does, will anyone buy it and see it as being genuine?:
For Trump, trailing by eight points on average in the most recent polls, these undecideds present both an opportunity and a risk. Should he stick with the bombastic, polarizing persona that keeps his base energized or moderate his policies and tone in an attempt to woo undecideds—and possibly alienate his most fervent supporters?
And I’ll just mention that tonight is the third night of the Republican convention. Scheduled speakers include:
Vice President Mike Pence
Second Lady Karen Pence
Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem
Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik
New York Rep. Lee Zeldin
Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president
Keith Kellogg, the vice president’s national security adviser
North Carolina congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn
Civil rights activist Clarence Henderson
Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump and a campaign advisor on Trump’s re-election campaign
Also speaking tonight, but not on the list, will be Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. According to reports, she will be sharing her “personal story”.