New polling shows Trump trailing Dems (but he's pretending otherwise)

When Trump claims polls show him leading both Biden and Sanders, he's turning reality on its head.
Image: Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders participate in the second Democratic primary debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida.
Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders participate in the second Democratic primary debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida.Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images fil
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By Steve Benen

Referring to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders on Twitter this morning, Donald Trump declared, "Polls say they BOTH lose to 'Trump'."

There may come a day on which the president learns how quotation marks work, and while that will be glorious, today is not that day.

Nevertheless, Trump's timing could be better. While the Republican apparently wants people to believe that polls show Biden and Sanders trailing in hypothetical 2020 match-ups, just yesterday two leading pollsters pointed in the opposite direction.

Take the latest Quinnipiac findings, for example.

In head to head matchups with President Trump among registered voters, Biden gets support from more than half of registered voters against the incumbent president, while Sanders does not. Biden leads Trump 52 - 41 percent, and Sanders leads Trump 49 - 42 percent.

The report quoted Quinnipiac University Poll Analyst Tim Malloy saying, "Perhaps most troubling for the Trump camp in these numbers is the comparative assessment of which candidate can handle a crisis: it is Biden hands down. Couple that with an approval rating frozen in the low forties and comparatively terrible numbers on leadership, honesty, and empathy for fellow Americans, and team Trump has a formidable fight ahead."

The results coincided with the latest national CNN poll, which pointed in a very similar direction: the survey found Biden leading Trump by 10 points (53% to 43%), while Sanders had a seven-point advantage over the Republican (52% to 45%).

Trump's tweet this morning notwithstanding, it's not great for an incumbent president to be trailing the rival party's top candidate by double digits eight months before the election.

Some caveats are in order. It's impossible to say with any confidence, for example, what kind of developments will unfold in the coming months, and what impact they may have on Trump's political standing. The president appears to be trailing now, and if there's a 2020 recession, his odds of winning will likely get worse.

It's also worth noting that neither side of the political divide should be too confident or too despondent. At roughly this point four years ago, Hillary Clinton enjoyed leads over Trump that were quite similar to Biden's leads now, and I think we all know how that race turned out.

But that's hardly reason for the president to peddle nonsense. When he claims polls show him leading both Biden and Sanders, he's turning reality on its head.

Election Day is 34 weeks from today. Buckle up.