Editor's Brief

Post-Traumatic Stress, Polls and Trump Magical Thinking

The Leaked Poll Saga Has Forced a Reckoning with Trump's Profound and Enduring Unpopularity
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 06: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he hosts the U.S. Military Academy football team, the Army Black Knights, in the Rose Garden of the White House May 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. President... WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 06: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he hosts the U.S. Military Academy football team, the Army Black Knights, in the Rose Garden of the White House May 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy champion to honor their win in 2018. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 18, 2019 9:01 am

We’ve all been watching this Trumpian series of lies, denials and special pleadings tied to the leak of internal Trump campaign polls from March. The numbers showed Trump being defeated decisively for reelection and Trump himself has repeatedly denied exist. Campaign manager Brad Parscale eventually conceded the polls did exist. But he insisted that they’re months out of date and are too early in the campaign cycle to count in any case.

To a significant degree, he’s right. We’re almost a year and a half before the election. But the whole spectacle illustrates a reality I mentioned a couple weeks ago: the political nation is in a collective state of denial about the depths of the President’s unpopularity and his uphill challenge seeking reelection. The denial isn’t based on nothing. The 2016 outcome was a shocking as well as a calamitous result, one based on significant albeit sometimes overstated polling misses in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Still, it’s warped our collective understanding of just what’s happening in the 2020 cycle.

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