Nate Cohen follows up hius yesterday’s post in the NY Times that talked about minority voters possibly be lost to President Biden…
Is President Biden really struggling as badly among nonwhite voters — especially Black voters — as the polls say?
I’ve seen plenty of skepticism. Among nonwhite voters, a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t fared as badly as those polls suggest in a presidential election result since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In the case of Black voters, the disparity between the usual support for Democrats — around 90 percent or more — and the recent polling showing it in the 70s or even the 60s just seems too much to accept. Some skeptics believe they’ve seen results like this before, only for Republican strength to vanish on Election Day.
But if we compare the polls with those from previous election cycles, Mr. Biden’s early weakness looks serious. His support among Black, Hispanic and other nonwhite voters is well beneath previous lows for Democrats in pre-election polls over the last several decades — including the polls from the last presidential election. Yet at the same time, his weakness is put in better perspective when judged against prior polls, rather than the final election results….
This lesson isn’t limited to Black voters. To take a different example, Mr. Biden leads by just 46-34 among young registered voters in our polling over the last year, but he leads by 57-35 among young validated 2020 voters if we assign undecided voters based on their 2020 vote preference. His lead among Hispanic voters grows from 47-35 to 56-36 with the same approach. Among Asian American, Native American, multiracial and other nonwhite voters who aren’t Black and Hispanic, it goes up to 50-39, from 40-39.
Of course, we can’t assume that Black, Hispanic, young or any voters will turn out as they did in 2020. We can’t assume that undecided voters will return to their 2020 preferences, either. The point is that the differences between pre-election registered voter polls and the final post-election studies explain many of the differences between survey results by subgroup and your expectations.
If you must compare the crosstabs from registered voter polls with the final election studies, here’s a tip: Focus on major party vote share. In the case of Black voters, Mr. Biden has a 71-12 lead, so that means he has 86 percent of the major party vote in our Times/Siena polling, 71/(71+12) = 86. That roughly five- or six-point shift in major party vote share is a lot likelier to reflect reality than comparing his 59-point margin among decided voters (71-12 = 59) with his 80-point margin from 2020…..
But for now, when I see Mr. Biden’s share among Black voters slip into the 60s and 70s in the polls, I mostly see yet another decline in the Black share of the electorate, at least “if the election were held today.”
If there’s any good news for Mr. Biden here, it’s that the election is still 14 months away…..