The November general election is six months away, and the campaign cliche is that a week is an eternity in politics. So 26 weeks until the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November means the election is far from over, political experts say.

Unless it’s not.

“Time is a terrible variable in politics,” said Neil Levesque, director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. “Time doesn’t mean movement.”

And Suffolk University’s Director of Polling, David Paleologos, says the calendar is at least two months shorter than most people think.

“You have to subtract out July and August, because people tune out over the summer,” Paleologos said in the latest NHJournal podcast. “We [political activists] will watch the conventions, but most people won’t be paying attention, so now you’re down to 17 weeks. And with early voting starting a few weeks before Election Day, you can lop off another three weeks. So now you’re down to 13, maybe 14 weeks, and the election’s here.”

The latest Suffolk University poll has President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump tied at 37 percent, with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. taking 8 percent of the vote and 12 percent undecided. The Real Clear Politics average of polling that includes third-party candidates (as opposed to just Biden and Trump) gives Trump a three-point lead.

And three months ago in February? Trump winning by three.

That lack of movement is what has political professionals puzzled. Is a race that’s been bouncing around the margin of error for months going to break for one candidate or another?

There have been some polls showing Biden losing badly to Trump, though they are outliers at this point. However, one consistent number is what Americans think of the job Biden’s done as president.


A CNN poll from two weeks ago gave Trump a nine-point (42-33 percent) lead, but perhaps more problematic for the incumbent is that 61 percent of respondents said his presidency has been a “failure.” Fifty-five percent said the Trump presidency was a success.

And while Biden’s tied with Trump in the new Suffolk poll, 69 percent say the country is on the wrong track.

That is a problem for Biden, Granite State political experts say, because the president is a completely known quantity with only one variable: his age. And it’s only going in one direction; the wrong one.

“I know liberals say, ‘Don’t say Joe Biden is old’ — don’t say what people see with their own eyes! You can say it, he can’t hear us,” said comedian and longtime liberal Jon Stewart this week. “I’m not saying that Biden can’t contribute to society, he just shouldn’t be president,” Stewart added.

Whether it’s six months or six days, time is not Joe Biden’s friend.

At the same time, Trump is sitting in a courtroom awaiting what’s likely to be a guilty verdict from a Manhattan jury. The odds he will escape the label “convicted felon” for another six months are very slim.

Which is why one veteran New Hampshire Democratic operative told NHJournal on background that he’s not buying the doom and gloom that’s infected others in the party.

“I have zero faith in pollsters ability to select who is likely to vote,” the Democrat said. “We have no idea how the Trump trial — or trials — are going to go, or his Supreme Court cases, or what both candidates’ health will be in six months.”

Plus, the operative added, “We have never seen an election like this one.”

In more ways that one, says Paleologos, who points out that Maine’s decision to go to ranked choice voting could actually hand Electoral College votes to Kennedy.

“Biden won Maine by nine or ten points in 2020. But if he wins by nine or 10 points and doesn’t get to 50 percent, and RFK Jr. finishes second, Trump voters won’t have picked Biden as a second choice. They’ll pick RFK Jr., right? That could potentially take votes off the books for Biden.”

Kennedy has been polling around 10 percent or so for months. Interestingly, points out political science professor Nathan Shrader of New England College, he’s the one candidate who could be hurt by the six-month window before Election Day.

“Kennedy has yet to endure any significant or sustained attacks thus far and will inevitably come under heavy fire from the press, various Super PACs, and from both of the Big Two candidates, dragging his poll numbers back to Earth once that barrage of negativity begins,” Shrader said.

Paleologos says it’s hard to tell whether Trump or Biden will be hurt more by Kennedy’s candidacy when November rolls around.

“If you look at the RFK voters, a disproportionate number self-identify as being conservative versus liberals. And so on the surface you’d say, well, that probably hurts Trump. But when you look at the categories of voters, RFK is strongest with young people, which hurts Biden. He’s strong with Hispanics, which also hurts Biden. So I think it’s going to come down to the state-by-state polling.”

Paleologos’ final verdict: Time is running out and the race is too close to call.

“We’re basically at the doorstep of the election, and the outcome is a coin flip.”