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Come on, man: CNN poll puts Biden up -- by sixteen points?

There are debate bounces, and then there are media bounces, apparently. After their first debate, media outlets largely blamed Donald Trump for the debacle last week with Joe Biden, whose own demeanor and behavior weren’t exactly out of Roberts Rules of Order. Given Trump’s aggressiveness, however, it’s not unlikely that voters might have been turned off and saw him as the main culprit.

If that’s the case, then it seems reasonable that this would start showing up in polling. However, it seems very unlikely that it would turn into sixteen point lead for Biden and an eight-point bounce in the gap, no matter what CNN’s latest survey shows:

Joe Biden’s advantage over President Donald Trump has expanded and the former vice president now holds his widest lead of the cycle with less than a month remaining before Election Day, according to a new nationwide CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

Among likely voters, 57% say they back Biden and 41% Trump in the poll that was conducted entirely after the first debate and mostly after the President’s coronavirus infection was made public. …

Likely voters broadly prefer Biden over Trump on a number of issues that voters consider critically important in the race, including the coronavirus outbreak (59% prefer Biden, 38% Trump), health care (59% to 39%), racial inequality in America (62% to 36%), nominations to the Supreme Court (57% to 41%) and crime and safety (55% to 43%). The two are about even over who would better handle the economy (50% say Biden, 48% Trump), similar to where they have been among registered voters in recent polling.

Biden’s favorability ratings have also improved, with 52% of Americans now saying they have a positive impression of the former vice president, compared with 39% who have a positive view of Trump.

Note well that this is CNN’s first survey with its likely-voter model in place. That must be one hell of a model, as it predicts a popular vote win that would more than double the gap by which Biden and Barack Obama won in 2008, with their 53/46 win over John McCain. This projects a landslide unlike anything seen since 1984, when Ronald Reagan carried 49 states and won 59/41 over Walter Mondale.

Is it possible? Maybe, but it sure ain’t likely. And who are all these voters CNN says are “likely” to turn out? Obama and Biden won by eight points in 2008 while deploying one of the most innovate and ingenious voter-contact systems in history, if not the most extraordinary. Are we to believe that Biden has doubled the gap without any door-knocking or ground game at all? While Trump and his team have flooded that zone? That’s nonsense.

So, for that matter, are the numbers in the poll. CNN/SSRS doesn’t reveal the demos of its subsample produced by its likely-voter model. They do note that the full sample was comprised of 1,205 adults with a D/R/I of 33/28/39, a fairly reasonable distribution. What was the distribution after the likely-voter model was applied and the sample reduced to 1,001? We don’t know because CNN/SSRS doesn’t tell us. Nor do they tell us where they polled; is it heavy on coastal states? What was the regional distribution of their likely-voter model and their overall polling? They provide zero data on that at all.

It’s very likely that Biden has a substantial national lead, but it’s almost impossible in these narrowly divided days for it to be sixteen points. (Also, as CNN itself notes, national leads don’t mean a lot in presidential elections, as everyone learned in 2016.) You’d think a media outlet would have realized that when it saw these toplines, and then dug into these questions before publishing them. In order for that to happen, we’d have to have media outlets more interested in truth than narrative, however.