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Election season brings with it a flurry of polling which can be interpreted in a number of ways. During the 2016 election, polling did not bear out in the November election very well. Even now, if you look at some of the numbers being put out, whether it is the President’s approval numbers or potential head to head match-up, they seem to be different than what you might expect.
The President and the GOP have hit record fundraising numbers for the past few reporting periods. President Trump can still pack stadiums. The economy is humming along and we are back on the world stage with authority. Yet the President remains with lower approval numbers than you might expect and the head to head match-ups with potential Democrat nominees are all over the place.
Trump Campaign Manager, Brad Parscale, regularly offers some insight for why the numbers may not resonate. First he often references the GOP data operations. Having seen some of the data offered to campaign volunteers, he is not overselling.
However, even if you just look at Parscale’s summary tweets after a rally, you get some insight into why the polls and other assessments may sound different then what you hear in your community. Here is a typical rally summary:
Big Rally tonight in Hershey, PA! Strong data ?.
✅ 23,207 voters identified (82.5% from PA)
✅ 20% have only voted in 1 of last 4 elections (9% in zero)
✅ 20.3% Democrats
✅ 18% non-white
This data will propel @realDonaldTrump in Pennsylvania in 2020!
— Brad Parscale – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@parscale) December 11, 2019
It is the second stat in the tweet that is really important. Infrequent voters are often excluded from polls. Conventional wisdom says that assessing “likely voters” will lead to more accurate results. This information is taken from voter files for pollsters to use. If someone hasn’t voted or only voted once, it is not likely they will be polled. In all of the data sets Parscale has shared have this statistic around the 20% mark. President Trump appears to be motivating new voters.
Each data set also indicates the number of registered Democrats that register to attend rallies. Again, the typical percentage is high-teens. The numbers posted for minority voters also generally fall higher than the share the president won in 2016 and shy of some of the recent polling has indicated.
Rallies are just one place the Trump campaign collects data. Online polls advertised on YouTube and other outlets are also collection points. Voter registration drives utilizing creative techniques to identify issues-based voters are also utilized. As a voter that receives campaign notifications from Trump 2020, they communicate regularly and local events within driving distance are held frequently. It is a full court press that touches those identified frequently without being irritating.
In addition, a Gallup poll released yesterday showed that American’s satisfaction on 27 issues is higher than at the end of the Obama presidency. In fact, overall satisfaction is the highest it has been since 2005. The economy alone has seen a 22-point increase in the three years of Trump’s term. Even the satisfaction with race relations has increased 14-points, despite what you see in the media and the pandering you hear from potential nominees.
These are not numbers that indicate a change election at the Presidential level. Democratic strategist James Carville once said “The economy, stupid”. Yet Democrat proposals that raise the top tax rate and increase spending are the norm. Even the three items that indicate increased dissatisfaction are too vague to understand which perspective individuals are coming from. For example, satisfaction with “The level of immigration into the country today” has fallen six points. The item does not tell you whether respondents think the level is too high or too low.
If you look at these numbers and look at the fracture in the Democrat party, it is painting an encouraging picture for November. Even The New York Times is beginning to worry the disparate coalitions will cause a problem in the general. The headline reads:
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A Major Fear for Democrats: Will the Party Come Together by November?
Even the goal of defeating President Trump isn’t enough for some voters to commit to backing the eventual Democratic nominee, expressing a clear aversion to a candidate who is too liberal or centrist for their tastes.
Even with these positive indicators, it is not time to get comfortable. In your own districts and communities it is imperative we use these positives to win back the House and get voters to the polls to support the President. Make sure you and all of you like-minded family and friends are registered. Carpool to the poll. Make plans to celebrate your vote. Even if you are in a blue state, get everyone you can to pull the lever.
Let’s take the popular vote this time and leave no questions.
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