Noteworthy for two reasons. One is that IBD and its partner TIPP like to say that they were one of the two most accurate pollsters in 2016, which is … sort of true. Their final national poll had Trump ahead by two points, 45/43. That did reflect the ultimate outcome of the race inasmuch as Trump won the election, but national polls are really just guesstimates of the national popular vote. Looked at that way, IBD was off by millions of votes. Other pollsters, like ABC/WaPo, got much closer to forecasting Clinton’s two-point margin.

Still, if you’re inclined to believe that accuracy in 2016 should carry extra weight this year, IBD/TIPP is a poll worth paying special attention to.

The other noteworthy aspect is that their last poll of the race published a week ago had it much tighter than other pollsters did. Biden 49, Trump 46 is what IBD saw, which isn’t altogether encouraging for the president — Biden being close to 50 percent is worrisome — but is a hell of a lot more encouraging than every other survey out there right now. Trump can win the electoral college if he’s down three in national polls on Election Day. If he’s down eight, say, then no way.

Today’s new IBD/TIPP poll: Biden 51.9, Trump 43.4 in a three-way race that includes the libertarian candidate, a margin of 8.5 points. In a two-way race Biden leads by 10.4 points. With IBD now momentarily forecasting a Biden landslide, the last true notable outlier is gone. Here’s the state of play in RCP’s national tracker:

Of 14 national polls published this month, Biden leads by double digits in 10 of them. Trump’s best result is a five-point deficit from The Hill/HarrisX. Nate Silver said awhile back that even a “small” five-point margin of victory in the popular vote should all but guarantee that Biden will get what he needs in swing states to reach 270 electoral votes. To put that another way, even the most encouraging result for Trump lately has him in a hole that’d be too big to climb out of if the vote were held today.

Follow the link above to the IBD/TIPP survey and you’ll find familiar trends. Trump’s winning men but getting obliterated among women. Trump’s leading narrowly among whites and losing vastly among nonwhites. Biden leads almost unanimously among Democrats whereas Trump loses a meaningful (nine percent) share of Republicans. Interestingly, although the debate on September 29 is already viewed widely as an inflection point in the national polling, IBD’s last poll showing Trump down just three was conducted over two days in the immediate aftermath of that debate. The fact that he’s collapsing now suggests that it was the circumstances of his COVID infection and the outbreak at the White House that have driven voters towards Biden.

Another poll published yesterday, from ABC/WaPo, also found the pandemic to be a special liability for Trump. They had Biden up 12 overall, 53/41, but up 17 on who’s more trusted to handle COVID, with two-thirds of voters saying Trump didn’t take proper precautions against infection. A record high of 73 percent say they’re worried that they or a family member will catch the virus. Trump and the GOP have gone all-in over the past few months pushing the idea that it’s time to get “back to normal,” with Trump even cutting a video on the White House balcony upon returning from Walter Reed encouraging people not to treat the virus like a big deal because, after all, he recovered. That message is wildly out of sync with how voters are feeling, it seems; the spectacle of the president himself needing a hospital and a team of doctors to help him through his infection doubtless made the anxiety that much worse. He had seven months to adopt a “safety first” approach and align himself with majority sentiment. He never did it.

Amy Walter looks at the big picture. In 2016 Trump “threaded the needle” in swing states by winning them narrowly across the board despite losing the popular vote. How’d he do it?

To be successful, this ‘thread the needle’ re-election strategy required four main elements:

1. A united, enthusiastic and engaged GOP base

2. A deeply flawed opponent

3. Decent support among independent voters (Even as Trump ran up the score among his base in 2016, he also carried independent voters by 2-points.)

4. Third-party candidates siphoning off enough votes to allow Trump to win key states with a plurality as he did in 2016…

Right now, only #1 is there for him. Even that rock-solid support from his base is looking shaky in the wake of his disastrous debate performance and COVID diagnosis.

Biden’s a genial generic Democrat, not someone easily demonized. Trump’s getting creamed among independents in some polls, with ABC/WaPo recording the biggest margin for a Democrat among that group this weekend since 1988. And there are no high-profile third-party candidates like Gary Johnson or Jill Stein to chip votes off of Biden’s margin. Trump needs a boost to get out of the hole he’s in. If it can’t come entirely from blowout Republican turnout, where can it come from?

Byron York notes that there *are* some good indicators out there for him. There was that Gallup poll a few days ago showing that 56 percent believe they’re better off now than they were four years ago. Trump still leads Biden on the economy in many surveys, and he’s underperforming his job approval in the head-to-head polls, which implies that he has room to grow. But York’s also realistic: “Some Trump supporters ignore the news because some of the polls were wrong in 2016. They shouldn’t. The polls are real, and there is no doubt Trump is facing a serious challenge.” He makes a good point about the irony of Trump’s position:

He had an advantage over other 2016 contenders because of his celebrity, because he had for years been the star of a highly-rated television show. But now he is struggling because, even though he can point to solid accomplishments — on the economy, deregulation, judicial appointments, tax reform, defeating ISIS, reducing illegal immigration, and more — he has not given some Americans the performance they want. They want a president who acts like their vision of a president. Trump doesn’t. And that, more than issues, more than whether voters are better off today than they were four years ago, might be the deciding factor in 2020.

Americans wanted a brash outsider, someone with no patience for ruling-class politesse. In the end they got more than they bargained for, a guy who couldn’t act even a little “presidential” (especially on the pandemic) despite the fact that it would have done wonders for his support among centrists. If he loses next month, that’ll go down as one of the three things that cost him his presidency. The second thing that cost him, as I said above, was his reluctance to approach the pandemic from the standpoint of “safety first.” And the third thing is his baffling willingness to let Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan shape his agenda for the most part instead of insisting on the sort of populist economic policies that helped get him elected. He could have pushed harder for a big infrastructure deal. He could have grabbed Senate Republicans by the throat over the summer to get a new COVID stimulus done. Now he’s a prisoner of his own passivity.

I’ll leave you with this amusing clip, via the Right Scoop. Trump still enjoys an enthusiasm advantage over Biden, 75/60 in the new ABC/WaPo poll. If his strategy for winning this time is nothing more or less than turning out every Republican under the sun, enthusiasm is his only hope.

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