Biden’s vulnerability

According to the Toilet Paper of Record – and I agree – Biden is underwater in this election polling and current position in the race! Here’s why.. [btw – The Times has laid off all its reporters so there are no more bylines to see.. most of the entire publications content is a collaboration of editorial staff ‘groups’!]

Joe Biden at a Sept. 11 memorial service in Manhattan.Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

The latest New York Times/Siena College poll showed Joe Biden to be leading President Trump in four important swing states. But it also showed how Biden could lose the election.

If the campaign is a referendum on the coronavirus, Trump will probably lose. The U.S. has suffered more than almost any other rich country, as many voters realize. When new outbreaks were exploding this summer, Biden’s lead grew to almost 10 percentage points.

But the other issue that’s dominated the news in recent months — the combination of police violence, racial injustice, peaceful protests and rising crime in many cities — is more politically complicated. It has the potential to hurt both Trump and Biden, in different ways. And so far, Biden has not managed to send voters a persuasive message that protects his vulnerabilities.

Perhaps the most surprising finding from the poll was this: In the four swing states — Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin — a larger share of voters said “addressing law and order” was a more important campaign issue to them than said “addressing the coronavirus pandemic” was.

On first glance, these law-and-order concerns may still seem to help Biden. More voters trust him to do a better job on several related issues — including violent crime, unifying the country and handling the protests — than trust Trump. But it’s not quite that simple.

Remember: Most Americans have already made up their minds about the election. Their answers to poll questions about which candidate they trust on specific issues are almost meaningless at this point. The bigger issue is how undecided and uncommitted voters feel.

Biden’s problem is that, on the broad issues of crime and policing, he appears to have a larger group of soft supporters — people who could flip — than Trump does. As Nate Cohn, a Times reporter who helped oversee the poll, told me, “There is definitely some Biden support with worry about crime.” Those worries span Black, Latino and white voters.

Consider these poll questions, all of which show a larger share of Biden supporters giving the answers that the Trump campaign would like to hear than vice versa:

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters from Sept. 8 to Sept. 11.

Biden does have potential ways to address these weaknesses. A large share of people say they think he supports defunding the police — a position Biden rejects but one he evidently has not been clear enough about. (The vagueness of “defund the police,” and whether it means abolish or reduce police funding, is part of his challenge.) A majority of poll respondents also said Biden “hasn’t done enough to condemn violent rioting.” Even 27 percent of his own supporters gave that answer.

Every political campaign is a mixture of offense and defense. For Biden, there are obvious ways to go on the offense — about the virus, Biden’s economic agenda, Trump’s inflaming of racism and his incitement of chaos during protests. But the complex swirl of issues around those protests, including violence and the future of policing, also creates some problems for Biden.

He hasn’t yet solved them. That’s one reason that the campaign has not turned into the rout that seemed possible this summer.

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