I had a chance to catch up with Richard Baris, America’s top pollster. We did a round-the-horn survey on a number of topics and where he sees the U.S. public today.
First, Joe Biden’s poll numbers: 60% approval? Baris said his own polling had Biden fluctuating between 48% to a high of about 54%—but the highs were at the peak of the vaccine rollout. He thinks a pretty reliable number is under 50. Moreover, the most recent data had him tailing off as the gas shortages and inflation hit. When it comes to specific issues, the only one in which Biden is above water is in the COVID vaccines.
As far as other political figures are concerned, the most unpopular man in America right now is Mitch McConnell. Kevin McCarthy is much less well known, but also underwater. Currently, Baris has Matt Gaetz surviving an election, mainly because Floridians do not trust the Hoax News media. Many are suspicious of Gaetz and even think he may have done something inappropriate, but not criminal and not enough to warrant his removal. However, Baris found a strong “wait and see” sentiment among voters.
What about Trump? Currently, Trump’s money-raising ability is unmatched. But Baris said his polling shows that Trump has to begin to get more issue-oriented and stop talking about the November 3 steal. It would help, he noted, if Trump would have talked about the Georgia steal of the senate seats and reminded people daily that some of his supporters are in jail . . . still! Other potential contenders, such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis, according to Baris, do not yet have Trump’s stature and have a way to go before they could fill his shoes on a ballot.
We discussed the audits in New Hampshire and Arizona. He does not think New Hampshire will produce enough discrepancies to declare the November vote illegitimate. But two issues in Arizona suggest there may be something serious at work. One is, Maricopa County was actually a county fairly favorable to Trump, with (he’s hearing) the real cheating going on in Apache and Pima (i.e., in Tucson). If the Maricopa County audit produces errors outside the margin of normal sampling error, it could be a harbinger of much more questionable results elsewhere in Arizona. Regardless, he thought that the main outcome of all of the audits would be to institute Republican-supported reforms, not the Democrat “reforms” that would open up elections to fraud even further.
When it comes to the COVID vaccines, Baris has found there is a quarter of the American public that won’t get the vaccine under any conditions. He also found that the “no-vaxers” are extremely informed on the subject, know the difference, for example, between the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines, and so on. To his surprise, the “no’s” were not just white evangelicals but had heavy support from Hispanics, American Indians, Indians, Asians, and other minority groups. Those minorities seem to remember something about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.
Baris said that nationally the issues are trending to Republicans and better leadership. They could produce shocking results in 2022. But going back to his polling on McConnell and McCarthy, the GOP leadership is tone-deaf when it comes to its voters. Meanwhile, he noted, the wheels are coming off the Biden bus, and there are internal battles among his different advisors, leading to a hodgepodge of policies.