For the U.S., history has just repeated itself in a very short time, and once again the opinion polls have failed to anticipate how much support U.S. President Donald Trump enjoys. On Monday, CNBC reported that the Democratic runner and former Vice President, Joe Biden, had a 6.5-point lead over Trump, according to The RealClearPolitics general election polling average. However, the results at this current time of writing present a very different picture.
So far, this election is proving to be just as close and nail-biting as the 2000 U.S. presidential election, which saw George W. Bush narrowly beat his Democratic rival Al Gore in the state of Florida by just 537 votes. Yet the swing state delivered the Republicans’ biggest win there since the 2004 poll.
The blue wave never happened for Biden
Trump also won certain battleground states that were crucial for his return to the White House, such as Ohio and Iowa. Even Texas was considered to be a battleground state, and Biden would have no doubt been left disappointed at the Democrats’ failure to win the state for the first time since 1976.
But the biggest disappointment for the former Vice President is that the ‘blue wave’ many pollsters anticipated never happened. As I wrote in a previous column, Biden used his former boss, Barack Obama, to his advantage by campaigning alongside him in many swing states. The idea behind this strategy was to encourage many floating voters who voted for Trump’s predecessor in 2008 and 2016, to vote for his former Vice President. The Democrats’ decision to roll out Obama clearly failed to trigger the blue wave that Biden so desperately needed.
Obama failed to inspire the Democratic base
Not only did Obama fail to inspire the Democrats’ base to vote in large numbers, but the blue wave never happened because Biden does not possess the charm and likability that many former Democratic presidents have. According to YouGov, Trump’s predecessor has a 58 percent positive rating, and Bill Clinton remains the thirteenth most popular former Democratic president.
Biden possessed almost the same positive ratings as Hillary Clinton did months before the 2016 election. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that the former Vice President was ahead of Trump by 11 percentage points. In 2016, Hillary was ahead of the then Republican candidate by 10 points. Biden was also over 50 percent in a previous poll, but the polls clearly got it wrong again as they failed to consider one crucial factor that helped Trump carry many US states: the shy Trump factor.
Despite this, there was one pollster who accurately predicted that Trump’s shy supporters would help him win in many battleground states. The Sun reported that Robert Cahaly of the Trafalgar Group said that the U.S. President’s ‘shy’ voters would help get him re-elected. He said that those voters do not tell pollsters the truth because of mounting pressures within society. Therefore, it is clear that Trump still enjoys a lot of popular support amongst his own base.
The Democrats must do some soul-searching
What also became apparent on Tuesday was that Trump performed better with many voters that the Democrats have always taken for granted. The BBC discovered that the U.S. President’s support among black voters increased by 4 percent, and CNN found that Trump won the support of 35 percent of Latino voters, although Biden managed to win over just half of the Latino vote. He performed worse with this group than Hillary did in 2016, as the latter won 62 percent of the Latino vote that year.
Regardless of the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the Democrats need to start asking themselves why they are failing to mobilize their supporters in the same they did when Obama and Bill Clinton were leading their party. They need to learn some lessons from the last four years and stop taking their supporters for granted, otherwise it will be a long time before we witness another blue surge in support.