Joe Biden can take some comfort in the polls, but there’s at least one critical area where the Democrat’s White House campaign is falling far short — and it’s time for him to start panicking.
An analysis by the Daily Caller finds an Achilles Heel for Biden in an unsurprising spot: voter enthusiasm.
Biden’s enthusiasm problem
According to polling data, Biden’s backers are more likely to describe themselves as anti-Trump than pro-Biden. An August CNN poll cited by the Daily Caller found that 38% of Biden voters were pro-Biden, compared to 58% who were anti-Trump.
By contrast, 67% of Trump voters were for President Donald Trump, compared to 29% who were anti-Biden. And it seems pundits have taken notice.
“In 2018, the Democrats chirped about the enthusiasm gap, but they are not doing it this year because the intensity here is all for Donald Trump,” Republican strategist Charlie Gerow told The Washington Times last month, as the Daily Caller reported. “I am surprised how invigorated, enthusiastic, intense, and anxious to get to the polls the Trump base is.”
The poll seems to track with what Trump and many of his supporters are saying on the street as the election approaches. “2016 was AMAZING, but we never had this kind of ENTHUSIASM!” the president tweeted recently.
President Trump has also tightened up the race a bit, but Biden has a stubborn 7-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average, the Daily Caller notes, even as Trump gains ground in key battleground states.
Putting it in context
Still, an enthusiasm gap shows up even when taking the incumbent advantage into account. The Daily Caller looked at CNN poll data from previous election cycles going back to 1984 and found that most voters supporting the challenger were voting for that candidate, not just protesting the incumbent.
Even 60% of Romney voters in 2012 were more excited to vote for the guy who once said, “My favorite meat is hot dog,” than they were to vote against Barack Obama. The notable exceptions to the trend are John Kerry and Walter Mondale, both uninspiring candidates who lost their elections, Mondale in one of the worst landslides losses ever.
Biden’s enthusiasm gap appears to be worse than Mondale’s: 47% of Mondale voters were pro-Mondale, according to the Daily Caller, compared to 43% who were anti-Ronald Reagan. To reiterate, 38% of Biden voters are pro-Biden, while 58% are anti-Trump.
In other words, it looks like the much-touted enthusiasm gap is more than just a talking point. Where turnout is concerned, Biden is vulnerable.
And come Election Day, that could make all the difference.