2020 poll: Obama 48, Trump 39

On a slow post-holiday news day, what could be more blogworthy than a (1) 2020 poll (2) from Zogby, of all people, (3) featuring a hypothetical match-up between POTUS and Obama?

Michelle Obama, that is. Not Barack.

Her book, “Becoming,” is due out one week after the midterms in November. Hmmmm.

Since our last poll, Michelle Obama has a comfortable 9% lead-the former first lady beats Trump 48% to 39%, up from 49%-42% in January. The reason for the race favoring Michelle Obama is that the former first lady does make the same inroads that [Bernie] Sanders and [Joe] Biden make with groups that supported the president, such as independents (Obama leads 43% to 32%) and voters without a college degree (Obama leads 46% to 41%), 18-29 year olds (Obama leads 56% to 30%) and voters aged 18-24 (Obama leads 62% to 27%). Trump wins with white voters-48% to 39% and among older voters aged 65+ by double digits, NASCAR fans (Trump wins 53%-37%), and Walmart shoppers (Trump wins 46%-42%). Trump also wins voters in the South (Trump wins 46%-44%) and Central Great Lakes regions (Trump wins 46%-42%) region. A majority of union (58%), east (57%) and west (52%) voters back Michelle Obama much more than the president.

That’s not the only bad number for POTUS matched up against a Democrat in Zogby’s poll. Hats off to Paul Bedard of the Examiner for giving it the ol’ college try in spinning it encouragingly for him anyway, noting that he’s improved head-to-head against various potential opponents since Zogby last measured in January. (Although not against Michelle Obama, interestingly. She’s increased her lead since then.) That’s no surprise. Trump’s job approval has also improved considerably since the doldrums of last winter, up from 37 percent to 44 now, so it figures that he’d be more competitive in hypothetical races. He’s gained three points on Elizabeth Warren and five on Joe Biden. The trendline is moving in the right direction.

But eyeball Zogby’s graph and you’ll see immediately what the real takeaway from the data is. Whatever the trendline, Trump is topping out at 37-39 percent against six of the seven Democrats tested, a low ceiling for an incumbent president. It’s true that he leads two of those Democrats, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, by one and three points, respectively, but that’s because much of the country has no idea who either of them is. Given a choice between POTUS and “random Democrat you’ve never heard of,” voters still won’t hand Trump even 40 percent of the vote. The one exception is in his match-up against Oprah, in which he pulls 47 percent but still trails by six, which is around the same margin Obama had over McCain in 2008. And the reason Trump gets to 47 against her is simple: Zogby didn’t include a “don’t know” option for that match-up. Probably he figured that, because they’re the two most famous people in America, everyone polled would have some preference for one or the other, however loosely held.

Stephen Miller had some encouraging, if vague, news for Bedard, though:

Top Trump aide Stephen Miller told Secrets that the administration’s internal polls are better.

“Our poll numbers are better today than they were on Election Day,” Miller told Secrets.

“In today’s country with the nonstop negativity in the media and everything else the political success that we’re having in what you’re seeing in the numbers, the generic ballot and everything else, is all enormously positive,” he added.

Totally true about the generic ballot. I’ve written half a dozen posts about that myself over the last few weeks. In fact, the trends are even more encouraging than polling would indicate. The left-wing counter lately to every bit of good polling news for Trump and the GOP is to point to the scoreboard and note how well the party’s done over the past 15 months when voters have actually gone to the polls in special elections. Forecasts are one thing, we’re told, but special-election margins are hard, real-world data. Fair enough, but Harry Enten of CNN noticed last week that those margins have also begun to dwindle since the beginning of April, suggesting that Trump’s polling improvement is beginning to show up in election-day performance. Wonderful news if you’re worried about a blue wave this fall.