In every major election, there are plenty of polls conducted by major news organizations, which are known as public polls: survey data that’s shared with the public. But candidates and parties routinely do their own private polls, the results of which the public usually doesn’t see. They’re referred to as internal polls: data that’s only shared internally within a political operation.
Donald Trump, like every modern president, receives briefings on his team’s internal polling, and according to the New York Times, the results at this point don’t look great for the incumbent president.
Late at night, using his old personal cellphone number, President Trump has been calling former advisers who have not heard from him in years, eager to discuss his standing in the polls against the top Democrats in the field – specifically Joseph R. Biden Jr., whom he describes in those conversations as “too old” and “not as popular as people think.”
After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win.
The point of the article seemed to relate to the Republican’s latest antics. Trump is encouraging people to lie about his political standing, for example, and he’s reportedly distracted by trivia.
Indeed, the Times’ report added that during a recent overarching state-of-the-race briefing in Florida, aides found it difficult to maintain Trump’s interest. The president prefers to focus on “final approval over the songs on his campaign playlist, as well as the campaign merchandise.”
And while the behind-the-scenes texture is interesting, I’m far more interested in the fact that Trump’s pollster conducted a 17-state poll, the results of which were “devastating” for the president.
There have been related hints of late. Politico noted last week, for example, that the Trump campaign’s internal polling “shows him falling behind in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”
The Times’ reporting suggests those three states weren’t the only ones that were problematic for the incumbent.
All of the usual caveats still apply, of course. It’s very early in the process; much of the electorate isn’t yet engaged; it’ll be a long while before we can say with any confidence who the Democratic nominee will be; none of the polling reflects the possibility of third- or fourth-party candidates, etc.
But if it seems as if the president is more anxious than usual, it may have something to do with the private polling data he’s seen.