First things first: The theme song of the week is the 2007 credits to The View.
Poll of the week: A new New York Times/Siena College poll of likely voters across the six closest states President Donald Trump won in 2016 (Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leads Trump by an average of 1 point. Sanders trails by 1 point. Warren is down 3 points to Trump.
An average of recent national polling indicates Biden, Sanders and Warren lead Trump by anywhere from 5 points for Warren to 8 points for Biden.
What’s the point: The New York Times polling is, of course, just one data point. We don’t know for sure that Trump is so much stronger in the swing states than he is nationally. Further, it’s clear that any of the Democrats could beat Trump nationally.
One consistency in the data, however, is that Warren runs slightly weaker than Sanders and clearly weaker than Biden.
These new polls echo prior data that has shown that Warren’s electability case is not anywhere near as strong as it is for Biden.
In CNN’s October national poll, voters were asked whether or not they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the different Democrats. Among those who had an opinion of both Biden and Warren, Biden’s net favorability (favorable – unfavorable) rating was 4 points higher than Warren’s. Back in July, his net favorability was a very similar 5 points higher among those who had an opinion of both.
This gap in popularity lines up with the gap we’re seeing in how they do against Trump.
The numbers look even worse for Warren among those who aren’t Democrats or Democratic leaning independents, following Biden’s argument that he appeals better to non traditionally Democratic voters. In our October national poll, Biden’s net favorability among this group was 11 points higher than Warren’s.
Beyond the polling, past electoral results give us a good look at Warren’s electability argument.
Her reelection margin to the Senate in 2018 was weak considering the partisan leaning of her state. She won by 24 points. The Democrats running for election to the House in Massachusetts (accounting for uncontested races) won by 36 points. In other words, Warren ran 12 points behind her fellow Massachusetts Democrats running for federal office in 2018. For comparison, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar did 13 points better than the Minnesota Democrats running for the House in 2018.
These results are backed by the fact that Warren’s favorable ratings in deep blue Massachusetts regularly fall below 50%, while Klobuchar’s have topped 60% in the swing state of Minnesota.
Indeed, Klobuchar may actually have a stronger electability case than Biden, based upon her popularity in a key Midwest state.
There’s also an argument to be made that a more moderate candidate like Biden or Klobuchar is more electable than a more liberal one. Warren would arguably be the most liberal Democratic presidential nominee of the modern era. (Note this is also true of Sanders, who runs worse than Biden, though not by as much as Warren.)
As I pointed out in July, there is a slew of evidence that more moderate candidates have done better than those closer to ideological poles in House elections over the last decade. Now, the difference isn’t so great as to make Warren unelectable, and there are other factors at play in elections than ideology. The average gap once we control for other factors is, however, large enough to be consistent with the polling showing Biden running a few points better than Warren against Trump.
Although we don’t have a large sample size of recent presidential elections, past ones suggest ideology does matter.
Again, none of this data means Warren can’t beat Trump. It just means that she continues to have a weaker case to make about electability than Biden at this point.