All that said, where are we? This close to Election Day and everyone with bated breath. Everyone sees the polls, the clear Biden lead nationwide and the smaller lead in most of battleground states. We know what those polls suggest. But there is little air of defeat among Trump supporters and no triumphalism among Democrats.
Trump supporters believe he will win because of his special magic, Trump foes fear he will win because of his dark magic. Pollsters and pundits stare at the data and wonder how to quantify his unfathomable magic. It’s remarkable that all in their different ways put such stock in the president’s powers, his ability to pull a black swan out of a hat. I believe he is not magic and faces a big loss, and from the way he’s acted the week leading up to the debate—flailing about, stirring themeless chaos—so does he.
But there are a few points that contradict the picture. One is the number 56. That is the percentage of registered voters who, asked by Gallup if they are better off than they were four years ago, say yes. (Gallup has asked this regularly in election years since 1984.) Fifty-six percent—in a pandemic, after protests, riots and recession!
It’s only a poll, but after Gallup, a New York Times/Siena poll asked the same question, and 49% said they were better off.
What’s interesting, though, is that when Siena asked respondents if the country was better off than it was four years ago, only 39% said yes.
What does this mean? No one knows.