Monday, October 14, 2019

Polling: "Generic" Doesn't Tell Us Much

A new poll (h/t Taegan Goddard) has Donald Trump running behind a generic Democrat 48%-47%  -- and 51%-37% among independent voters -- for re-election in Ohio.

But after a certain point, Trump won't be running against a generic Democrat, he'll be running against a particular Democrat.

That's important.

Of the voters who are thinking "don't like Trump much, a Democrat might be better next time," some of them already have "as long as that Democrat is or isn't [insert name here]" floating around in the backs of their minds.

Also, once there's a nominee apparent, Trump and Co. will be able to focus their campaign strategy on that particular Democrat. They're already doing that to a degree (Biden is their main bugaboo of choice at the moment), but whichever Democrat they're attacking at any given moment is really more of a proxy for Democrats in general -- a "generic" target, one might say.

Finally there's the question of just how motivated the voters being polled are. It's one thing to say you prefer a generic Democrat when asked. It's another thing entirely to get off your ass cast a vote for a specific Democrat. It's gonna be a little while before we see how good the two major party campaigns' Get Out The Vote games are.

Trump won Ohio by 8.13% in 2016 after a cycle of zig-zagging poll numbers. Third party, independent, and write-in candidates grabbed 4.75% of the vote. As of this moment, it looks to me like he's reasonably well-positioned to win it again, albeit likely by a lower margin.

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