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My thoughts on the CA Recall and Polls


vcczar
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Here are my thoughts on the CA Recall and Polls:

  • Newsom's victory was basically assured once Elder became the GOP nominee. Elder would be a good candidate in some states, but not in CA. It's analogies to having AOC run against a scandalous politician in Arkansas. Newsom could have punched a baby in the face and still won.
  • We are in a partisan age in which party flipping is going to be very uncommon, regardless of the intensity of scandals. The Roy Moore instance in Alabama a few years ago was a huge outlier, helped only by Doug Jones being rather moderate for a Democrat. Jones fit AL more than Elder fit CA as a whole. 
  • I think presidential election landslides are going to be impossible for awhile because of this partisanship. Both Biden and Trump could perversely seek to shoot their candidacy in the foot (it often seemed to me Trump was doing that) and still be competitive with the other party. The battleground states are not numerous enough to allow a landslide. Those that aren't battleground seem firmly entrenched with one party or the other. I'd argue the definition of a presidential landslide for the 21st century is 320+ EVs, when it used to be 350+ EVs or even 400+ EVs.
  • Newsom exceeded polling expectations. While polls correctly predicted the winner (an easy prediction), they were wrong in the magnitude. This reinforces my belief that the clearest truth in polls is the trend. Newsom's change of victory was improving weekly. When I predicted the result of Biden's 2020 victory with near-perfect accuracy (missing only ME-2), it was because I focused more on trends than the polling #. I'll be doing this again for 2024. 
  • Overall, polls are showing that Biden's Afghanistan slip up is primarily hurting only Biden. For whatever reason, it is having almost no down ballot effect. Also, Democrats are generally winning "generic polls." This suggests that the majority of poll takers disapprove of both Biden and Republicans, but not necessarily Democrats as much, for whatever reason. Biden is now ticking back upwards, however slowly. Despite being more disapproved than approved now, he's still generally beating Trump in a hypothetical rematch, although not by the poling margins of the 2020 election. 
  • A recent poll has some good and bad news for Trump. The good news is most Republicans want Trump to lead the party, but the bad news is half of GOP voters think someone else would be better at beating Biden in 2024: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/09/12/most-republicans-want-trump-to-be-president-again-but-are-split-on-if-hell-actually-win-poll-finds/?sh=355ec6a2a071
  • Overall, GOP really needs to focus on getting a win in VA, which will be difficult, but not as difficult as the CA recall election. An upset victory in VA would give them some momentum, I think. Democrats have to feel a little bit better than their initial fears. Newsom won by a larger margin than expected. Biden is slowly ticking back upwards. Polls aren't favoring GOP down ballot because of Biden. McAuliffe seems more likely than not to win in VA. Democrats should also be elated that the GOP hasn't replaced Trump as either party leader or as frontrunner for 2024. A Trump rematch is probably a gift to Democrats. DeSantis or someone else would be much harder for Democrats to successfully attack. 
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