Can Donald Trump still make the polls lie?

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Frédéric Arnould (access the author's page)

One need only take the trouble to listen to a few speeches by Donald Trump in their entirety during his famous partisan rallies in front of a few thousand worshipers to realize two things.

First of all, he loves campaigning in front of an audience won over in advance. Then there is something sorely lacking: a program on which to build your arguments for re-election. Despite everything, can he still win thanks to the famous voters who are silent and “hidden” in the polls?

The 2016 result continues to haunt pollsters' memories four years later.

One of the tenors of the profession, Frank Luntz said this ten days before the vote: If Trump ever lies the polls this time around, my profession is screwed up.

That says a lot about his fear of a surprise, not in October, because they are no longer counted, but in November.

A good American friend of mine from Washington keeps telling me this, beware, you media, you haven't seen those hidden voters who voted for Trump in 2016. There are quite a few more this time around and more than you think. And they are in all walks of life. Beware, many do not dare to say they will vote for Trump.

He who voted Democrat says he is very nervous about the fateful date of November 3. Even in the face of polls that give Biden a good head start against Trump nationally, or even in some pivotal states.

A plausible scenario?

First, we are not in 2016 anymore and the attraction of novelty is no longer on the agenda. The president now has a record to defend first and should normally have a vision to present to convince voters of the merits of his re-election.

In the first case, the results seemed to be positive before the start of the pandemic. The economic growth well underway under Barack Obama has allowed Donald Trump to benefit from it and to have good economic indicators.

But COVID-19 has turned everything upside down and its sometimes casual management of the file has plunged the country into the red. I take my responsibilities, he said Thursday night in the debate against Biden, but, he added, it is not my fault, it is because of China.

The question that every voter generally asks himself in every election is: Is my situation worse or better than four years ago? On this point, between 50 and 61% believe that their situation has improved, even despite the pandemic and the economic crisis.

On the other hand, it is far from over for the president when asked if the country is going in the right direction.

Then there remains the second case, that of vision. But what can Americans rely on? Where is the president's famous electoral platform? It is in one sentence: Vote for me and you will see …

A bet that won him over in 2016, but is rather risky today. Because this presidential election has become a real referendum on him and on his personality. Not because Biden wanted it, but because Trump himself chose to play his own card.

A more or less calculated risk which today finds itself faced with a certain erosion of support among its favorite clienteles (evangelicals, suburban women, the elderly and the military), which is not a very good sign for a possible reissue of his feat of four years ago.

Trump on the campaign trail.

Donald Trump at a campaign rally at The Villages Polo Club, Florida

Photo: Reuters / TOM BRENNER

A president in his comfortable bubble

Donald Trump focuses most of his campaign on virulent attacks on his opponent and fuels the fervor of his patriots with theories from the Fox News ecosystem or from the extreme rightosphere conspiratorial.

It may draw a lot of cheers during its rallies on the airport tarmac, but outside of this cozy bubble, few voters give credibility to this sometimes unstable scaffolding, or even understand what it is all about.

He who hardens his attacks against his Democratic opponent, even more corrupt than Hillary Clinton, he insists, and against the press, necessarily an accomplice according to him, connects falsehoods and lies at a frantic pace in his fiery flights in front of his audience who does not ask so much to applaud and chant Four more years!

But these gatherings do not attract seniors, the self-employed or the suburban women he needs. On the contrary. No plan to convince them, just go over the last four years and attack, attack, attack.

These gatherings therefore only reinforce the opinion of those who attend them, a public won over in advance. But gaining on friendly ground doesn't make you win the war. And when the time comes to campaign for re-election, it takes the sinews of war, money.

Almost empty chests

To demonstrate that Donald Trump has always liked to campaign to win, it suffices to remember that this is what he did the day after his inauguration ceremony, in January 2017. Barely invested in his presidential office, he had quite simply and simply created its re-election committee for 2020.

His first term in hand, he was already thinking of winning his second even before taking office. This committee, which raised a lot of money, was thus going to ensure it a nice jackpot to face the 2020 campaign. Know that in January 2019, there was $ 1.5 billion in these coffers. An impressive number that shrunk like a skin of grief less than two years later.

Donald Trump ends the month of October with $ 63 million. Joe Biden still has three times the money of his rival, which allows him to buy a lot of ad space in states Democrats may not even expect to win.

Joe Biden talks about his COVID-19 plan in Wilmington, Delaware.

Joe Biden opens up about his COVID-19 plan in Wilmington, Delaware

Photo: Reuters / KEVIN LAMARQUE

Have you seen the lines for early voting and the latest polls in Texas? The fact that Biden is one point ahead is negligible, but who would have thought that a Democratic presidential candidate would be so close in voting intentions in a land usually acquired by Republicans?

It's hard not to see this as a sign that the most thunderous campaign and the most present on the ground is no longer successful when it comes to fundraising.

A presidential election is not only a popularity contest among those who follow you as followers, it is also necessary to know how to seduce and attract new support outside this bubble.

But where are they today, just over a week from the poll? If ever they exist, in any case, they are really very discreet in the polls. Can Donald Trump still make the polls lie?

Read also :

  • A final Trump-Biden duel with more civility, but contrasting visions
  • For Donald Trump, a very bad "October surprise"
  • The white suburban woman, indispensable target of Donald Trump


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