During the party conventions, public polling basically took a two-week vacation — did you miss it? OK, don’t answer that. But yesterday, ready or not, we got a flood of new polls showing where voters stand heading into the final two months of the campaign.
Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump nationally, but his margin may have tightened just a bit. According to four probability-based (read: methodologically sound) national polls released yesterday, Biden was ahead of the president by anywhere from seven to 10 percentage points. In some of those polls, his lead had softened slightly since before the conventions.
A Monmouth University poll of Pennsylvania showed Biden up on Trump by just four percentage points among registered voters — within the margin of error, and far below his 13-point lead in July. But Fox News polls from Arizona, North Carolina and Wisconsin all showed Biden essentially maintaining or even expanding his advantages in those states.
In Arizona and Wisconsin, voters preferred Biden over Trump to handle the issues of policing and criminal justice by a five-point margin; in North Carolina, voters were basically split down the middle on this.
Both Biden and Trump unveiled ads yesterday slamming each other for their approaches to the racial justice protests. In Trump’s ads, which are set to air in Minnesota and Wisconsin, his campaign doubles down on the argument that Biden has condoned violence at marches.
But in his own ad, Biden sought to directly undercut that claim. “I want to make it absolutely clear: Rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting,” he says in footage taken from a speech he gave this week in Pittsburgh. “It’s lawlessness, plain and simple.”
Biden’s campaign announced yesterday that together with the Democratic National Committee, it had raised a staggering $364.5 million in August — a monthly record, and more than his and Trump’s July totals combined.
Today Biden will travel to Kenosha, Wis., where the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month gave rise to days of protests that have sometimes turned destructive — and where a teenage Trump supporter has been charged in the killings of two people. Biden will meet with members of the Blake family and attend a community meeting. Trump will head to Latrobe, Pa., to deliver a speech this evening.
While he’s pushing back hard against Trump’s efforts to label him as soft on crime, Biden knows that the top issue on many voters’ minds remains the coronavirus pandemic.
Yesterday he sought to refocus attention on Covid-19, and what he considers a major vulnerability for Trump: the difficult process of reopening schools amid the outbreak. “Mr. President, where are you?” Biden asked during a speech to reporters in Wilmington, Del., saying that the president “still doesn’t have any real plan for how to open our schools safely.”
As if to underscore the urgency of the situation, statistics on the University of South Carolina’s website show that as of yesterday, over 1,000 students had tested positive for the virus and were currently active cases. The university’s data reflected a nearly 28 percent positive test rate, well into the zone that epidemiologists say indicates the virus is out of control.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at the White House, Trump appeared to encourage voters in North Carolina to commit a felony: He said they should try to vote twice — once by mail, then again in person — to stress-test the state’s voting system.
“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” the president said. “That’s the way it is,” he added. “And that’s what they should do.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Trump is seeking to overwhelm and undermine the state’s voting system, or if he thinks he might actually gain an advantage if his supporters cast multiple ballots. What is clear is that he has now called on his supporters to engage in the kind of election fraud he has long railed against.
Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security intervened to prevent the publication of an intelligence report raising alarms about Russian interference in the 2020 election, according to a report by ABC News yesterday.
The intelligence bulletin, from July, sought to inform state and local law enforcement officials that Russian state media agencies were posting “allegations about the poor mental health of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.”
Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, told Fox News yesterday that the report had been held up because it was “very poorly written,” and said that his office planned to release it in some form soon. But Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the agency during the Trump administration, told CNN that the news fit a pattern.
“We had instances like this happen, where the White House didn’t want us to talk about Russian election interference, and we had to go around the White House to do it anyway,” Taylor said.