Joe Biden’s Lead In The Polls, Unlike Hillary Clinton’s, Is ‘Safe,’ Says Political Analyst

Joe Biden speaks to families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act
Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

Joe Biden’s commanding lead in the polls is “safe” and will not prove to be a red herring that ends in defeat, like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Slate writer William Saletan predicted.

In 2016, the former first lady and Secretary of State had a small lead of three percentage points going into Election Day, and various models forecast that she would win, as Time had reported. Further, at various points leading up to the election, Clinton had even bigger leads in the polls.

History, however, proved those polls wrong, and Clinton, though winning the popular vote, lost the election to Donald Trump.

It’s a fact that’s been pointed out repeatedly during this election cycle, by both Democrats and Republicans; Biden may currently have a commanding lead in the polls — as much as 14 percent, according to some — but polling numbers can shift and the polls can be proven wrong.

However, Saletan believes that Biden has something that Clinton lacked, and that will carry him to an easy victory over Donald Trump in November: likability.

LANCASTER, PA - JUNE 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during an event about affordable healthcare at the Lancaster Recreation Center on June 25, 2020 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Biden met with families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and made remarks on his plan for affordable healthcare. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
  Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

Simply put, a lot of voters simply didn’t like Hillary Clinton, and their votes proved that.

“You can argue that public antipathy toward Clinton was sexist, based on lies, or propelled by the media. But that antipathy was a fact, and polls consistently documented it,” he wrote.

Biden, by comparison, scores consistently well when the issue of his likability is brought up in polls.

Saletan looked at polls that asked about likability/favorability in 2016 and compared Clinton’s numbers with Biden’s numbers in polls that do the same. The difference, he says, is staggering.

In five particular polls, Clinton was viewed unfavorably by between 39 to 49 percent of voters. By comparison, Biden’s net unfavorability rating is about 30 percent by Saletan’s math.

Among Independent voters, whose votes could be the difference between victory and defeat for Biden, the former vice president’s net favorability rating is 22 points better than Clinton’s. Among men, it’s 19 percent better. Among women, 10 percent better.

Further, Biden seems to have been immune to the Trump campaign’s efforts to paint him unfavorably with voters.

“Biden has endured a yearlong smear campaign by Trump and the GOP, with little to no effect. And long-term data show no sign that Biden can be vilified as successfully as Clinton was,” Saletan wrote.

There is some wiggle room about which Biden’s supporters should be concerned, however, Saletan said. He notes that in 2016, Trump’s net unfavorability rating has fallen from 61 percent in 2016 to 55 percent now. However, Saletan chalks that up to the fact that, in 2016, Trump hadn’t yet consolidated support from his Republican base, which he has done since then.

“For now, the numbers send a clear message: Biden is in a much better position than Clinton was,” Saletan concluded.