If the election were held today, Joe Biden would most likely win. Democrats could probably capture the Senate. The problem for Democrats is that the election is not today and the Republicans have had a good convention.
After the Democrats’ convention, President Donald Trump went up five points with independent voters in a CBS News poll. I am hard-pressed to find previous conventions where one candidate got a bump from the other candidate’s convention. Trump has drawn close to Biden in swing state polls. Polling averages in several key states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, have Trump closer to Biden right now than Trump was against Clinton.
That has Democrats concerned, and rightly so. Republicans orchestrated a convention that left much of the media and Democrats screaming, but the convention was never for them, anyway. The convention was not really even for the Republican base. It was for voters who may not like Trump but do like a lot of his policies. It was for voters who like Biden but harbor concerns about progressivism.
Democrats had an opportunity to address those voters, but they failed. They wanted to make their convention a Manichean dichotomy between lightness and dark, good and evil, Biden and Trump. They could have addressed rioters and looters. They could have addressed crime. They chose not to.
Pew Research, one of the best pollsters in the country, routinely surveys voters on the issues they care about. Four years ago, crime was not even in the top 10 issues voters were concerned about. Now the issue is the fifth most important issue voters care about. Gun control is the seventh most important issue. On both, many voters favor the GOP over the Democrats. Many voters also favor Trump to handle the economy. But the virus continues to drag down the President.
If the virus recedes, the President’s popularity could increase. In fact, it appears that is happening. On Wednesday of this past week, The New York Times noted the virus has declined 21% over the past two weeks. Each of the past several weeks have seen declines in most states, and as the virus declines, Trump moves up in polling.
Between the virus receding and rioters burning businesses and destroying livelihoods, Trump has a real path to victory in November. The Democrats failed to address the riots, and now many voters believe Biden supports defunding police departments, which most voters oppose. Biden, in fairness, is opposed to the idea, but he ceded the ground to the GOP, which is taking advantage of the issue.
Republicans, however, have their own problem. Their stagecraft, unaided by Hollywood elite and not filled with celebrities, relies on real people with real stories of how Trump has helped them. More than one of them said they did not vote for Trump in 2016, but he kept his promises, and they will support him now. More than one Democrat came forward to endorse him, and the stage was filled with a diverse array of people.
The Vice President and the President hit all the right notes. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott provided sound voices for reelection that connected with people who do not like the President and want a return to the age of something resembling normal. The week was well done, and the GOP should be proud, but there is that problem. It is defined by two words: President Trump.
All the stagecraft, messaging, themes and people in support of the President can be undercut with a single tweet. The President is his own worst enemy in that regard. The base may love it, but they will vote for him regardless. Republicans just spent a week trying to give people who hate the President a reason to vote for him. Polling suggests they were headed in the right direction.
Unfortunately, Trump too often steps on his own momentum. Someone needs to take away his phone, discourage his tweeting and make him stay on the message so carefully put on display this past week.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.