Monday, June 8, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said that he paid someone to say he was popular.

Today, CNN released a poll showing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a 14-point lead over Trump.

New CNN Poll Shows Joe Biden 14 Points Over Donald Trump

It's the third double-digit lead Biden has posted over Trump in polls released in the last two weeks. No national poll has shown Trump leading Biden since February.

Trump responded by tweet, by 3:14 p.m. on the day the poll came out, by saying that he had hired a private pollster to "analyze" the CNN poll. He attached a picture of their one-page report, which blamed "Democrat operatives" and encouraged Trump to "prove them wrong again."

In other words, Trump is saying that he paid money to a firm notorious for giving Republican candidates "friendly" poll numbers, and that this means that he's not losing badly and not extremely unpopular for an incumbent seeking re-election.

Trump didn't say how much John McLaughlin's firm charged him for the quick turnaround on a tweet-friendly memo, but it's not the first time his campaign has had to shell out for custom-made good news. Recently, Trump bizarrely threatened to sue Brad Parscale, his own campaign manager, for bringing him internal polls showing him losing to Biden. Parscale later patched things up by coming up with more flattering projections.

UPDATE, 6/9: The Trump campaign is now buying $400,000 worth of ads in the Washington, D.C. media market, apparently just to reassure Trump himself, who is likely to see them during one of his frequent TV binges. There is no chance that Trump will win Virginia, Maryland, or D.C. itself.

Polls change with public opinion, but national presidential polls have been pretty accurate in the last few decades. The last polls taken just before the presidential election had Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by 3.1%. She actually won by 2.1%.

Why does this matter?

  • A better use of the president's working day might have been to do his job, which then might have helped with his unpopularity.
  • Paying people to tell you what you want to hear isn't a great way to solve a problem.