As Trump’s nomination appears to be turning into a likelihood, I’m having a spot of trouble finding contemporary polls comparing him to a Bernie or Hillary opponent.
IIRC, the conventional wisdom is that the GOP establishment was fearful of a Trump candidacy because it would mean a vastly lopsided GOP defeat up and down the ticket. But the same conventional wisdom used to hold that he wouldn’t survive long in the nomination process.
I’ve had a careful-what-you-wish-for perspective regarding Dems hoping Trump would get the nomination and now I’m getting nervous. (Note I’m not ‘afraid’ of him in any way that supports his candidacy; I’m afraid of him fucking up the country for generations due to his oversimplified, boorish, and wholly un-thought out approaches.)
So what do the scenarios look like?
Hillary v. Trump?
Damaged/indicted Hilary v. Trump?
Bernie v. Trump?
Polls in general get more accurate as the election nears. Here’s a good 538 article on the predictive value of these polls, although it’s talking about polls a year out, not nine months, so presumably the current polls are of slightly more value.
As the article says, a big problem is that it’s hard to know this far in advance what the main issues will be at election time. For instance, 2007 polls showed that a race between Obama and McCain would be a dead heat, and Obama ended up winning handily. There are lots of reasons we could postulate for this, but I think clearly the biggest one was that the economy tanked in the intervening year, and said tanking was blamed on the economic policies of McCain’s party. If there had been a huge foreign policy crisis instead of an economic crash in summer 2008, McCain likely would have done much better.
Of course, the economic crash had nothing to do with either Obama or McCain personally. My hypothesis, completely unsupported by any evidence I am aware of, is that these polls might provide an accurate picture of how voters view the candidates in general, but by the time the election comes, voters are often more focused on specific traits, which can’t be predicted ahead of time. This would suggest that, in fact, such polls do have value; it’s obviously best to pick the candidate who looks better now, since that candidate will have more of a cushion should the campaign veer away from his or strengths. But it’s still a gamble; again, if foreign policy had been the deciding factor in 2008, Democrats probably would have been better off with Clinton.
If you read the article, although his conclusions are that such polls are near- worthless, his data shows that they DID get the winner right 11 out of 14 times. Of course, in such a small sample size, this could easily be attributed to chance, but maybe my explanation is also partially correct.
There are also cases (i.e. Bush 2000) in which a candidate’s popularity plunged dramatically during the course of the campaign as the voters found out more about him and discarded their first impressions. This supports the argument that Clinton, although fairly unpopular, is well known enough that she probably won’t get much less popular; most people have been hearing about her long enough to have formed firm opinions. Sanders, on the other hand, could be vulnerable to being painted as an extremist once the GOP turns their full attention to him. OTOH, all the Republicans are at least as vulnerable to such attacks, so I’m not convinced that that’s a decisive argument.
In the same spirit in which I asked Martin Hyde to knock it off with “Berniebots,” I’m respectfully asking you not to use terms like this. This sort of insulting term does nothing to advance discussion.
So the understandably speculative polls are putting either Clinton or Sanders ahead by a few points, not a substantial margin.
I tend to agree with Thing-Fish; of course things will change as focus on just two grows and events shift the ‘news’ narrative, but current polls are helpful in giving a basic sense of where candidates fall on a shifting spectrum. Polls averaged fifteen to twenty points imply a larger derailment would need to take place than a smallish shift in electoral preferences.
Side question: is ‘Trumpeteer’ as inherently pejorative and ‘Clintonista’ and ‘Berniebot’ ?
The only thing I’m worried about as far as Sanders goes is that he hasn’t been continuously attacked by the GOP. They’re spending all their time attacking each other. Once the daily commercials of “Socialism” or “Communism” goes on the air in swing states, the polls will move
I don’t specifically remember how Martin responded to your request, but MANY Clinton supporters on this board have routinely used insulting and derisive terms to refer to Sanders supporters. I have been waiting patiently for them to start acting like adults, but it’s not happening, so why not return fire?
Eh, I guess the answer is that acting like an adult is its own reward. I will try to restrain myself in the future.
I’ve actually seen at least one self-proclaimed moderate Republican on this very board saying that in a Trump vs. Dem matchup, he’d vote for Hillary in a heartbeat, but be really torn as to what to do with Sanders.
I can at least see the logic. Why do you think voters in general would sooner defect from Trump to Sanders than Trump to Hillary?
But, can’t that also be said of Trump? He’s not facing a very good, very sustained attack right now. All the Republican candidates are weak, plus he’s only appealing to 30ish% of the electorate. Imagine endless media cycles on his past bigoted/racist/misogynistic remarks, his weird relationship to democrats and the Clintons (his wife donated to Hillary’s campaign in 2006), his general attitude, his complete lack of political knowledge – can’t see many independents running towards him in the general.
Many people would vote for Trump instead of any Democrat. Many would vote for any Democrat instead of Trump.
But what about those who rank the contenders
Hillary > Trump > Sanders
or those who rank them
Sanders > Trump > Hillary
or, perhaps most importantly, those who would never vote for Trump, but would stay home rather than vote for Sanders (many centrists feel this way I think), or stay home rather than vote for Hillary.
We need to understand these categories. Instead of just reporting raw numbers, I’d like to see in-depth interviews of people who fit into one of the above categories. This may be one of the most important elections ever and it’s important that the Democrats put forward their best candidate. Right now I don’t think we can be sure who that is.
And how does the calculus change if Rubio is the candidate instead of Trump? It’s still hard to believe that the powers-that-be will let The Donald take the nomination, though time is running out.
In terms of defection, both Sanders and Clinton would get a boost from people who see Trump as a different type of danger than their typical political opponent. Sanders, IMHO, would get a larger boost from the cohort of disaffected, anti-establishment leaning voters who want an ostensible political outsider. This, I believe, makes up part of Trumps current base. These people would be more attracted to Sanders’ messaging than Hillary’s, as she is perceived of as being more mainstream/status quo.
I’m not that old—I know of the Daisy ad, but not how Goldwater was considered in general. Was he perceived as not only overly hawkish (if he was) but also out on the lunatic fringe a la Trump?
One of the Democrat campaign slogans was In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts and there was certainly that percepion in much of the media. (One magazine polled psychiatrists asking them if they thought Goldwater mentally unfit for office.) His advocacy of the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam if necessary played right into those conceptions. I remember thinking at the time that this was a dangerous man, exactly my feeling about Trump.