NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Poll Watch: Biden’s lead over Trump has increased, despite Tara Reade allegations

Don­ald Trump and Joe Biden have both had a chal­leng­ing week.

The source of Trump’s woes is, of course, his administration’s ongo­ing sham­bol­ic response to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. Ear­li­er this week Trump – in an obvi­ous attempt to declare some sort of pre­ma­ture vic­to­ry over the virus – declared that he was con­sid­er­ing wind­ing down the White House coro­n­avirus task force.

Faced with an imme­di­ate pub­lic back­lash, he reversed course in under twen­ty-four hours, but made it very clear that his deci­sion had absolute­ly no basis in pub­lic health sci­ence: “I had no idea how pop­u­lar the task force is until actu­al­ly yes­ter­day when I start­ed talk­ing about wind­ing it down!”

Biden’s rough week was caused by an entire­ly dif­fer­ent set of circumstances.

In late March Tara Reade, a for­mer Sen­ate staffer, claimed in a pod­cast inter­view that in 1993 then-Sen­a­­tor Biden sex­u­al­ly assault­ed her.

This claim took some time to be cov­ered by big media, but the sec­ond half of April saw mount­ing atten­tion paid to the alle­ga­tions – at the same time as Ms. Reade’s fam­i­ly and neigh­bors came for­ward to cor­rob­o­rate her claims.

Biden did not help him­self with his slow response to Reade’s alle­ga­tion. Instead of quick­ly address­ing the issue him­self, Biden opt­ed to let high-pro­­file Demo­c­ra­t­ic women defend him in TV inter­views – while pro­vid­ing them with inac­cu­rate talk­ing points. Biden only broke his long silence on Fri­day to issue a blan­ket pub­lic denial of the accu­sa­tions: “I’m say­ing unequiv­o­cal­ly it nev­er, nev­er happened.”

How­ev­er, the lat­est poll from Mon­mouth Uni­ver­si­ty seems to show that Biden’s slow response to the Reade accu­sa­tions has not hurt him with vot­ers; the poll, released on Wednes­day, showed Biden with an increased lead over Trump of 50% to 41%. The sur­vey – which began ask­ing respon­dents about Tara Reade’s alle­ga­tions after Biden’s pub­lic denial on Fri­day – showed that the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of peo­ple (86%) have heard about the story.

Patrick Mur­ray (Direc­tor of Monmouth’s polling insti­tute) explained that although head­lines about Reade’s accu­sa­tions may affect the for­mer Vice President’s favor­a­bil­i­ty rat­ings, “most vot­ers still see this elec­tion as a ref­er­en­dum on Trump.”

Even with the survey’s 3.6% mar­gin of error, Biden holds a com­fort­able lead over Don­ald Trump, news that will be wel­come for Democrats.

How­ev­er, the Democ­rats can­not not rest on their lau­rels – Don­ald Trump was elect­ed in 2016 by the Elec­toral Col­lege despite los­ing the pop­u­lar vote to Hillary Clin­ton by near­ly three mil­lion votes.

The Repub­li­cans have shown over the past few years that they will do any­thing to keep this state of affairs in place. To name just one exam­ple, Flori­da Repub­li­cans are fight­ing tooth and nail to clamp down vot­ing restric­tions on ex-felons in the state – despite a 2018 bal­lot mea­sure that restored those felons’ vot­ing rights.

The onslaught of COVID-19 has not slowed Repub­li­can attempts at vot­er sup­pres­sion at all. In the vital­ly impor­tant state of Wis­con­sin, the Repub­li­cans delib­er­ate­ly turned the state’s pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry into a chaot­ic mess, putting hun­dreds of thou­sands of Wis­con­sinites in dan­ger of catch­ing the virus – all with the intent of stop­ping “unde­sir­able” vot­ers from exer­cis­ing their vot­ing rights.

Democ­rats will need to be on the look out for such tac­tics in the run-up to Novem­ber. The COVID-19 cri­sis has only rein­forced how vital­ly impor­tant it is to get Don­ald Trump out of office and install some­one (lit­er­al­ly any­one) more com­pe­tent, less ego­tis­ti­cal, and less cav­a­lier with Amer­i­cans’ lives.

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