Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump nationally and is running ahead or even with him in most swing state polls. He is besting Trump on just about every question atop voters’ minds, from the coronavirus and health care to “law and order.”
Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump nationally and is running ahead or even with him in most swing state polls. He is besting Trump on just about every question atop voters’ minds, from the coronavirus and health care to “law and order.”And yet, for many Democrats a constant anxiety — that somehow seems to spike with each dose of good news — persists.Four years on from Trump’s stunning victory, the psychic wounds of Hillary Clinton’s loss remain fresh. When a flurry of new polls were released this week that showed Biden’s advantage widening, the collective reaction from liberals, especially among the highly engaged online crowd, ranged from a shrug to near indignation.
The nervy responses are largely rooted in a desire to ward off complacency in voters who might be fooled into thinking Biden has the race in the bag. But for the Democratic operatives who lived the Clinton disappointment up close, even the slightest flicker of positivity can cause them to recoil.In the run-up to the 2016 election, independent polling forecasters — unlike actual pollsters, who previewed a close race — portrayed the contest as Clinton’s to lose. Then, she did. In the absence of a shared and coherent understanding of what many experts missed, Trump was ascribed a supernatural power over the reasoned science of polling. Prominent Democratic operatives-turned-pundits who dismissed anxious supporters as “bedwetters” issued meal culpas. When the latest round of 2020 polls dropped showing Biden ahead, a kind of social media backlash followed shortly behind. Their response, in short: “Ignore them!” or “Don’t get complacent!” The tension is being amplified, in material terms, by concerns over Trump and some Republican lawmakers’ efforts to suppress the vote or cast doubt on the outcome of the election. Trump’s refusal to say he’ll accept a losing outcome, regardless of what he does in the end, is itself a tool for depressing voter enthusiasm, experts say. And there are fears that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic could impact the reliability of turnout on both sides.
Still, the odds — by almost every available measure — favor Biden if the process goes off without interference. Not that it makes Democrats feel better. David Axelrod, former chief strategist to President Barack Obama and a CNN commentator, said the countdown to Election Day had unleashed a compounded level of uncertainty. “Now there is bed-wetting,” he said, “about the absence of bed-wetting!”