The CNN poll showed Biden with a pretty sterling image rating: 55 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable. That plus-13 was notably far better than Trump, who was 16 points underwater (41 percent favorable to 57 percent unfavorable).
And although the gap was particularly pronounced, it’s merely the latest evidence that Biden has gotten more popular as the race has worn on — in contrast to Clinton, who wound up about as unpopular as Trump on Election Day 2016 (about 6 in 10 voters disliked each of them).
Here’s how that chart looks, via RealClearPolitics:
We’re getting to the point, if we’re not already past it, at which it’s too late for any attempts to damage Biden having a meaningful impact. Among the many strands of spaghetti tossed at the wall by the Trump campaign, few of them appear to have stuck, including most recently the renewed Hunter Biden push.
If you were to apply the yawning gap in image ratings to virtually any political race, it would be pretty clear who was about to win. And on top of Democrats’ strong edge on the generic ballot, which Philip Bump detailed Wednesday, there are plenty of signs when it comes to which party is primed for a win.
Georgia is increasingly pivotal
The polls are coming thick and fast now, and a storyline in one increasingly pivotal state — Georgia — deserves attention.
As I wrote earlier Thursday, Joe Biden picking off this state, which has trended Democratic of late and is polling dead even, would be huge for his path to victory. But the state is also increasingly important in another regard: It could tip the battle for the Senate to the Democrats.
A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Biden leading Trump there by five percentage points among registered voters, which is a notable shift from last month (Trump +1). Other polls show a closer race.
Perhaps more notably, it shows even bigger shifts in the state’s Senate races.
While Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) led by six points last month, the margin swung nine points to Democrat Jon Ossoff, who was at 49 percent to Perdue’s 46 percent.
The shift was even bigger in the special election for the state’s other seat. There, Democrat Ralph Warnock is looking like a lock for the runoff after the open “jungle” primary, polling at 41 percent, while appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R) battle it out for the other spot. Loeffler was at 21 percent, while Collins was at 18 percent.
Even more interesting, though, is what happens in either prospective runoff: Warnock leads Loeffler 49-41 — better than Biden’s and Ossoff’s margins — and leads Collins by an even bigger 51-39 margin.
This isn’t the first poll to show Warnock looking like a favorite and Ossoff with a fighting chance. A Quinnipiac University poll two weeks ago had Warnock leading Loeffler by eight (52-44) and Collins by 12 (54-42), and Ossoff up six (51-45). The margins were smaller in a New York Times-Siena College poll last week that had Warnock leading both Loeffler and Collins by four and Ossoff tied.
It bears emphasizing that runoffs are tricky, given that turnout looks different after Election Day and Republicans usually benefit. In a 2008 runoff, for example, GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss expanded his Election Day margin by four points in the runoff. It’s also possible that the brutal fight between Loeffler and Collins is depressing their standings in the runoff, and that could subside after Election Day.
But both of them have gone pretty far to the extreme in their quest to outflank one another. Loeffler has run ads calling herself “more conservative than Attila the Hun” and promoted the endorsement of QAnon-supporting congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, while Collins recently countered with support from a coterie of figures in the Russia investigation, including convicted felons Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos. These quite simply aren’t the tactics you would probably pursue in a normal race, and they could have lasting impacts when it comes to marginalizing whichever Republican emerges.
And if the battle for the Senate is close, it’s quite possible it could be decided a month after Election Day in one or both of these races. Imagine the influx of cash and attention the state would face then.
Democrats struggling to match 2016 early vote edge in Nevada
As we noted in the first edition of this daily update and will continue to note, looking at the partisan split of early voting isn’t always terribly instructive. These may be voters who would just otherwise turn out on Election Day, after all, and we already knew Democrats were more likely to use mail ballots than Republicans.
If there’s a key state where we want to keep close tabs on it, though, it’s Nevada. That’s because early voting there is usually the overwhelming chunk of all votes. To the extent that the early vote is the vote in an important state, that state is Nevada. And it’s perhaps the best small-scale indicator of what turnout might be overall in 2020 — albeit in a small state in a region with few swing states.
The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston now reports that Democrats may fall short of their 2016 advantage in early voting, when you adjust for population growth. They’re around the same advantage in all-important Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas and about two-thirds of the state’s voters, with two days to spare (74,000 more Democratic voters than Republican ones). But he notes that population growth means Democrats would have wanted to exceed that number more than they are. He puts the target at 87,000, and Democrats aren’t trending up fast enough.
They’re doing better in the state’s second-largest county, Reno-based Washoe County, relative to 2016. But overall, he predicts that they’ll fall just shy of his overall target of 54,000 more Democratic voters than Republican ones in the early vote. They have some cushion, given that Hillary Clinton won the state by two points, but this one is clearly worth keeping an eye on. Early voting ends Friday.