Biden campaign manager: We think this race is a lot closer than the pundits do

Biden campaign manager: We think this race is a lot closer than the pundits do

Up to you. You can choose to believe that this is true or you can choose to believe that it’s a lie being told by the campaign to scare Biden voters into not being complacent. The wider his lead in the public polls, the greater the incentive for lefties who are lukewarm towards him to stay home on November 3 in the belief that he doesn’t need their vote.

Which, frankly, may have been fatal to Hillary Clinton four years ago. Remember that some election models gave her a 99 percent chance of winning. If you were a progressive who didn’t like Clinton but really didn’t like Trump and you saw data nerds smugly assuring people that victory was in the bag, you felt comfortable skipping the election or casting a protest vote for Jill Stein. We all know how that worked out in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

The mushy pundit view of the true state of the race right now is “somewhere in between.” The polls *are* overstating Biden’s lead — he’s not going to win the popular vote by 12 points — but he’d get to 270 without much difficulty if the vote were held today. Jen O’Malley Dillon’s job is convincing “soft” Biden voters of the contrary, that his chances are hanging by a thread and depend on whether they show up or not.

Although that’s not really the headline in this series of tweets, is it?

September’s $383 million fundraising haul is the new record for the most money ever raised in a campaign in a single month, breaking Biden’s August record of $365 million. (Trump hasn’t released his September numbers yet.) Team Joe and the DNC had a combined $466 million in the bank at the end of August, which means they spent somewhere north of $400 million last month and still barely dented their cash reserves because of how much money is coming through the door. They could actually increase their rate of spending over the next three weeks without raising another dime and still not be bankrupt by Election Day.

Is there a secret ingredient to Biden’s blowout fundraising?

I’m skeptical that Harrismania is driving a money tsunami after she finished far, far out of the running in the primaries. She’s more exciting to black voters and lefties than, say, Amy Klobuchar would have been, but that’s probably as much as we can say for her. The reason donations took off after she was chosen as VP was probably a function of timing. Once the ticket is set, the campaign suddenly becomes “real.” Voters start paying attention. The more casual liberals began tuning into the race in August, the more annoyed they probably grew by Trump’s daily antics and the more they started shelling out cash for Sleepy Joe.

Contra O’Malley Dillon, a new NBC/WSJ poll this morning finds Biden with an 11-point lead nationally, 53/42. That shows a bit of improvement for Trump, who trailed by 14 in the last survey, but remains a ways away from a tight race. The most notable data point:

Some 50% say they are better off than they were four years ago, compared with 34% who say they are worse off. However, 58% say the country is worse off than four years ago, compared with 38% who say it is better off. Moreover, more than 60% of voters say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The No. 1 election issue among those surveyed was the economy, and voters gave Republicans a 13-point advantage over Democrats as the better economic manager. Yet, the pollsters said voters this election cycle don’t seem to be voting based on that issue alone…

Democrat Peter Hart, who also worked on the survey, said voters were considering more than the economy. More than half of those in the survey said they were concerned that Mr. Trump would divide rather than unite the country. “The 2020 presidential election finds voters looking to heal physically, economically and psychologically,” Mr. Hart said.

That’s the second poll in the past week to find a majority of Americans say they’re better off now than they were four years ago, a metric that normally would cinch reelection for an incumbent president. Some of that sentiment is doubtless due to the previous waves of fiscal stimulus by the feds in propping people up amid the COVID economic slowdown, but some of it is a reaction to how robust the economy was during the first three years of Trump’s presidency. If his persona were even a little less Trumpy, especially with respect to how he talks about the pandemic, I think he’d be cruising to another term. It’s almost an achievement for a president to be down double digits overall despite being *up* double digits on the “better off now” question.

Here’s the graph to think about today, the national average in polls of Trump vs. Biden. Don’t focus on the margin here. Just focus on Biden’s numbers.

He was at 49.4 percent on September 29, the day of the first debate. Two days later, October 1, he crossed over 50 percent. He’s been above that mark every day since. Of the last *20* national polls tracked by RCP, Biden has scored 50 percent or better in 17 of them. (The three exceptions all come from the same pollster, The Hill/HarrisX, which nonetheless have him leading by five to seven points.) Look back to 2016 and you’ll find that Clinton never touched 50 percent in the average after April. The highest she reached after the convention was 49.0 for a single day, in mid-October following Trump’s “Access Hollywood” debacle. All of which is to say, Biden has a majority of the popular vote right now and Trump realistically can’t win reelection under those circumstances. (If he won *all* remaining undecideds and turned it into a 51/49 national vote, I guess that could get him through the swing states.) Something has to change, even if O’Malley Dillon is right that the race is tighter than the grimmest polls would indicate.

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