In politics, the conventional wisdom is, “If you’re debating the polls, you’re losing.” If that’s true, President Joe Biden is in big trouble. And that includes in the Granite State.
The Washington Post and ABC News dropped a bombshell poll on Sunday showing former President Donald Trump beating Biden by 10 points, 52 to 42 percent. That same poll also found that 61 percent of Democrats and 80 percent of independents said Biden is too old for another term as president.
Hours later came an NBCNews poll that, while it showed Trump and Biden tied at 46 percent, also found Biden’s job approval at 41 percent approve and 56 percent disapprove — “the highest disapproval rating of his presidency.” And 74 percent of registered voters said they doubted that Biden has the mental and physical health to be president for a second term.
“Joe Biden is in serious trouble. The bottom has fallen out with core Democratic constituencies they take for granted, and Biden can’t tack back to the middle without alienating the radical liberals in his base,” Trump advisor Jason Miller told NHJournal in response to the new numbers.
The Washington Post and ABC News, both liberal news outlets allied with the Democratic Party, took the unusual step of undermining their own poll, suggesting it wasn’t trustworthy data.
“A finding that shows Trump leading Biden by a wide margin does not match other recent polling, suggesting it is an outlier,” the Post wrote. “The difference between this poll and other [polls], as well as the unusual makeup of Trump’s and Biden’s coalitions in this survey, suggest it is probably an outlier.”
Miller mocked their response. “The Post sh*ts all over their own poll throughout the article,” he tweeted.
In fact, Trump has been tied or ahead of Biden in eight of the last 10 polls tracked by RealClearPolitics.com, though not by such a large margin. At the same time, Biden’s approval rating has been steadily falling, particularly among independents.
In a story before the poll dropped, The Washington Post also reported on a private gathering of big-dollar Democratic donors in Chicago. One prominent Democrat told the Post he spends five hours a day calming the nerves of Democratic donors. “I know he is old, but he has got good people around him,” the person has been repeating over and over. “Get over it.”
Gary Langer, whose company produced the poll, wrote the shocking topline number showing Biden down by 10 may be voters sending a message, not declaring a preference.
“A hypothetical vote-preference question 14 months before an election is predictive of nothing; it’s best seen as an opportunity for the public to express its like or dislike of the candidates,” Langer wrote. “Biden is broadly unpopular, and doubts about his suitability for a second term are extensive; wherever they end up in more than a year, a substantial number of Americans today are taking the opportunity to express their displeasure.”
And how much “displeasure” are New Hampshire Democrats feeling about Biden’s candidacy? What’s their response to the latest polls?
None of the dozen or so Granite State Democratic activists, strategists, or officeholders contacted by NHJournal would speak on the record about Biden’s sagging support in the polls. Only a few would speak on background. Their message: It’s early. The election is more than a year away. Biden has plenty of time to turn it around.
“Just ask Presidents Dewey, Dukakis, and Guiliani about polls a year before Election Day,” one New Hampshire Democrat said.
But if Biden’s issue is his age and ability to do the job, why would his support be higher next November when he’ll be more than a year older?
Again, Democrats had no comment.
The one exception is former U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, a progressive who’s not afraid to defend his fellow Democrat. Hodes calls the attacks on Biden’s infirmities “ageist.”
“I’m delighted to support Biden. He’s achieved remarkable things and his wisdom and common sense are critical to the country and the world,” Hodes told NHJournal.
“Has he slowed down a step? Sure. But, as I age as gently and sensibly as I can, who am I to buy into our ageist culture? I don’t compare Biden to the Almighty, I compare him to the alternative. And right now the alternative is an amoral, criminal thug who wants to subvert our values and destroy our democracy.
“Democrats ought to stop the hand-wringing and get with the program,” Hodes said.
The state’s all-Democrat federal delegation is on board. Despite Biden’s decision to strip New Hampshire of its First in the Nation Democratic primary, all four New Hampshire federal delegation members support Biden’s decision to seek a second term. “We’re all one team, and we all want to reelect Joe Biden,” Rep. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) said in a recent interview.
At the same time, all four have refused to respond to multiple requests for comment about polls showing most Granite Staters, including a plurality of Democrats, believe Biden is too old to serve another term. That includes 76-year-old Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, whose staff limits her media availability.
In the new CNN/UNH poll, 63 percent of New Hampshire Democrats said age is the biggest concern regarding Biden’s candidacy. Just over half of the state’s Democrats (53 percent) believe Biden is up to the physical and mental challenges of the presidency today. And just 31 percent of Democrats believe he would “definitely” be able to fulfill his duties for another term.
While Biden’s slipping polls are good news for Trump and Republicans in general, they’re not good news for Trump’s challengers in the GOP presidential primary. One of the arguments most frequently made by Trump’s opponents in the Republican Party is that he can win a primary, but he can’t win the general election. “A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Joe Biden,” according to mailers that have been hitting New Hampshire Republican primary households for weeks.
Longtime GOP strategist Pat Griffin says Biden is struggling because of “shoppers actively checking and rejecting his increasingly unacceptable ‘sell by date’ clearly marked on the package.”
Like Gov. Chris Sununu, Griffin predicts Biden won’t be on the ballot in November 2024.
“Biden will not be the Democratic nominee because his voters are desperately afraid of Trump, and they know he’s not up to the task. It’s not only that he won’t be able to govern, they know he likely won’t be able to campaign, either,” Griffin said.
“There’s a lot of talk inside Democratic circles in Washington about the party ‘saving itself’ from Biden before it’s too late. The problem is that, at least with voters, it’s already too late.”