Internal polls are a punchline. Why this one signals real trouble for Trump in Pa. | Monday Morning Coffee

June 8, 2020 7:15 am

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 24: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a signing ceremony for H.R.266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, with members of his administration and Republican lawmakers in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC on April 24th, 2020. The bill includes an additional $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Programs forgivable loans to cover payroll and other costs for small businesses. Hospitals and other health care providers will receive $75 billion and another $25 billion is allocated for COVID-19 testing. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/POOL/Getty Images)

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Ordinarily, we tend to regard internal polling results in much the same way we regard our horoscope: Good for a knowing chuckle, but not necessarily something we want to plan our day around.

Thus, we were prepared to append a suitably dismissive headline to a new Democratic National Committee poll that came wafting into our inbox over the weekend. Something along the lines of, “New Democratic poll, paid for by Democrats, finds Democrats don’t like Trump,” or something else suitably scornful.

After all, no one, but no one, releases the results of an internal poll when they’re getting their clock cleaned.

And then along came Sunday’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finding President Donald Trump with an approval rating still mired in the mid-40s; with more than half of respondents believing that it’s time to change horses, and a plurality giving decidedly poor marks to the economy.

Because what’s striking about this new DNC canvass of voters in six battleground states, including Pennsylvania, is how closely it mirrors the results of the NBC/WSJ poll in most major respects.

Taken together, the two canvasses reinforce the public perception of a White House still flailing in its response to the pandemic and the protests that have wracked the nation for the last two weeks. And in a state that the nation’s 45th chief executive carried by barely a percentage point in 2016, that’s not welcome news.

Below, a look at where the two polls overlap – and where they don’t.

JONES BEACH, NEW YORK, – MARCH 17: A coronavirus drive-thru testing site is up and running at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center on March 17, 2020 at Jones Beach State Park, New York. It is the first drive thru coronavirus testing site on Long Island. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

1. The Pandemic: Barely a third of respondents (37 percent) to the NBC/WSJ poll believe Trump would do a better job than former Vice President Joe Biden of managing the national response to the pandemic. A clear majority of respondents to the DNC canvass (56 percent) believe Trump didn’t listen to experts and didn’t take the threat it posed seriously enough. The result mirrors a May poll by Monmouth University that’s shown a steady, month to month erosion in public confidence over the White House’s management of a public health crisis that’s claimed more than 100,000 American lives.

2. The Economy: Trump outscores Biden 48-37 percent in the NBC/WSJ poll when voters were asked who would be better suited to managing the economy. But, seven in 10 respondents to the DNC poll give poor marks to the economy, matching polling by Quinnipiac University, according to the Washington Post. For a president who has hitched his fortunes to a vigorous economy and a roiling stock market, that may not be compelling enough an argument for the tens of millions of Americans who are currently out of work. That’s backed up by an Oxford Economics forecast that shows Trump losing seven of the states he carried in 2016, including Pennsylvania, based on unemployment, inflation and real disposable income data in those states, the Post reported. If it holds, Trump is on track to the “worst incumbent performance in a century,” according to the Oxford analysis.

3. Approvals: Here, the numbers line up pretty much exactly. Trump is underwater, 45-53 percent on job approvals in the NBC/WSJ poll. Trump’s approvals stand at 45 percent in the DNC canvass. And it matches the RealClear Politics average, where Trump is underwater at an average 43-53 percent. Trump’s poor numbers are “remarkable findings that speak to the power of our partisan silos,” GOP pollster Bill McInTurff told NBC.

The DNC poll sampled the opinions of likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin from June 2-3. The DNC poll has a margin of error of 2.3 percent. The NBC/WSJ poll included 1,000 registered voters, and was conducted from May 28-June 2. It also includes battleground state voters.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller goes deep on how Pennsylvania is spending its share of federal CARES Act money.

A multiracial and multigenerational crowd of protesters gathered on the Capitol steps Sunday to call for police reforms and demand justice for George Floyd and other Black Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. Your humble newsletter author filed the dispatch.

Intern Julia Shanahan takes a look at how Pennsylvania farmers have been squeezed by COVID-19, and how not all have benefited from federal aid.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a University of Michigan scholar says the 2020 uprisings, unprecedented in scope, have joined a long river of struggle in America.

Temple University in Philadelphia (Photo by Brendan O’Kane via Flickr Commons)

Officials at Temple University say they’ll meet with Philadelphia police to address student concerns, the Inquirer reports.
Pittsburgh City Paper talks with suspended Post-Gazette reporter Alexis Johnson about the controversy over the newspaper’s protest coverage.
The Sentinel of Carlisle talks with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera about the state’s reopening guidelines for public schools.
Franklin County’s district attorney has called on fellow Republicans to “exhibit political courage and never put the party before country or conscience,” PennLive reports, and that “Black lives matter. Period. Full Stop.”
Community leaders in the Lehigh Valley see the potential for police reform, but know there’s long road ahead of them, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

The Appeal explains ‘qualified immunity,’ and why it’s such a big deal in police reform.
The Cut has tips on how you can support the fight against police brutality.
WHYY-FM looks at the dialogue in Philly between residents, police and pols over institutional racism.
Workplace testing is the ‘wild west,‘ as businesses reopen, reports.
Roll Call explains how the pandemic recession has changed the conversation around infrastructure renewal.

What Goes On.
The House and Senate both return this week. Here’s a look at the day’s committee action.

In the House:
The House Appropriations Committee meets at the call of the chair.

In the Senate:
12 p.m.: Local Government Committee
Off the Floor: Finance Committee
Off the Floor: Rules Committee
Off the Floor: State Government Committee
Off the Floor: Veterans Affairs/Emergency Preparedness Committee

Time TBD: Daily COVID-19 briefing

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to PennLive’s Julia Hatmaker, who celebrated on Sunday.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley to get the working week started. It’s ‘Strong Will Continue.’

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
The Chop 
says the $12 stadium beer tells you everything you need to know about the current impasse about MLB resuming play this year.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.