Ginsburg’s Poll Effect

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 2016 portrait. Photo by the Supreme Court of the United States.

It’s been a week since the death of Justice Ginsburg. It was a significant event in American politics, if only because it shifted the national spotlight somewhat from things which weren’t helping the President (200,000 COVID-19 deaths, Dow Jones on a steady decline since Sept. 2, internal friction) onto the Supreme Court. This was the issue which created a late surge in 2018, reducing what had been looking to be a devastating election for the Republicans to merely a significantly damaging one.

A week is enough time to be factored into most polls. If there is significant movement based purely on the issue, it should be visible now.

Emerson released its Trump vs. Biden national poll today. Biden is up only four points, significantly less than he is in many other national polls…. but he was up by only two points in their last report, in August. That’s a two point gain.

Quinnipiac shows that Trump has moved to five points above Biden in Texas. This is a significant jump, four points higher than Trump’s best showing over the last year in that poll. It’s a touch higher than the NYT/Siena poll which gives Trump a three point advantage, and on track with other Texas polls since the conventions. Trump has a slight lead in Texas, and he may have gained a little bit because of the Supreme Court vacancy, but if so he hasn’t benefited much; it looks as if, since the convention, the state is his to lose.

Fox News polls Pennsylvania with its worst showing for Biden in months… and he’s still up by seven points. Meanwhile, the CNBC polling shows no effective change, with Biden up by four points, on target with the two to four point lead he’s consistently shown.

The same CNBC poll taken exclusively after RBG’s passing shows Biden winning Wisconsin by nine points, and the University of Wisconsin, which includes numbers from after her death, shows Biden up by four. The University poll is up slightly for Trump, in keeping with his slight post-convention bounce, and the CNBC up significantly.

ABC News/Washington Post released their first poll of Florida, showing Trump up by four points, taken both before and after the death. Meanwhile, St. Pete Polls, a Florida-centric polling company, took the temperature of the electorate exclusively following the death and found Biden remaining the same three points ahead they’ve had him at for months… mirroring the results of CNBC. It’s noteworthy there that St. Pete Polls uses a sampling size more than four times that of the ABC/Post polling group.

There are limits on all of these. Professional pollsters have to try to account for affiliation of the local populace, question wording and placement, sample size and location and much more. Relying on the polls to predict an election is always a questionable decision, and it becomes moreso during a pandemic when people who have previously voted (the all-so-valuable “likely voters”) may decide to stay home out of safety concerns. But those factors have been integrated into the numbers for months. The question at hand is whether or not the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has signifcantly affected the race… and at the moment, the answer seems to be a strong “no”.

The Republicans will attempt to make it into a central issue if their internal polling shows it might help them, and it may yet do so. That will seemingly depend entirely on how the respective campaigns handle their messaging… which has not been a strong suit for Trump.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.

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