But while there’s an apparent alternative who might be considered more “electable” for Republicans right now, a new poll reinforces the fact that the matter is hardly so simple for Democrats.
The Fox News poll is the first major survey to test multiple general-election matchups not just with different Republican candidates, but also with different Democratic ones.
The poll is the latest to show former South Carolina governor and ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley faring better than Trump against Biden — and this time by a significant margin. While Trump leads Biden by four points and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leads by five, she leads by 11 points, 52 percent to 41 percent. That’s a number that should cause Republicans to stand up and take notice.
For Democrats, the differences are more negligible. While Biden trails Trump by four points,
- Vice President Harris trails by five
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom also trails by four
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer trails by two
- Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) trails by one.
One way to look at that is that there’s indeed not much difference: Democrats trail, and not one of these candidates comes close to matching the performance of that generic Democrat in last week’s New York Times-Siena College poll. (That poll showed Biden trailing in swing states by four points but the generic Democrat leading by eight.)
Newsom and Whitmer both perform similarly to Biden mostly across the board, including with independent and moderate voters. It seems there isn’t a large universe of voters ready to switch their votes when that generic Democrat is replaced by some of the more plausible, actual alternatives.
Another way to look at it is that these are relatively unknown quantities on the national stage, and yet they still rival and in some cases even slightly exceed the incumbent president’s performance. That’s not generally how this works.
But it’s not the kind of poll that’s suddenly going to inject a great deal more urgency behind possibly replacing Biden on the ticket.
That said, the poll does reinforce the potential wisdom of looking elsewhere on at least one side of the ballot.
While Fox’s September poll showed Trump and Haley performing virtually the same in the general election, this one shows her outperforming Trump by seven points on the margins. And it’s not alone:
- The Times/Siena swing-states poll showed Trump leading by four but Haley leading by eight (Haley +4 on the margins)
- A CNN poll showed Trump leading by four, but Haley leading by six (Haley +2)
- A Marquette University Law School poll of Wisconsin voters showed Trump trailing by two but Haley leading by nine (Haley +11)
- Polls in Georgia and Pennsylvania also have shown Haley performing at least slightly better than Trump.
Haley appears significantly more palatable to middle-of-the-road voters. The new Fox poll, for instance, shows Trump leading Biden among independents by 16 points but Haley leading among them by 43.
Whether any of these edges would hold up over time is a valid question. Haley hasn’t faced extensive scrutiny, having only recently emerged as a leading Trump alternative in the GOP primary race. And it’s unlikely we’ll ever find out whether she’d be a superior nominee, given Trump’s domination of the GOP primary field.
But her polling strength would at least offer some support for the idea of running a more standard-issue Republican — the kind who has routinely over-performed Trumpian candidates in recent elections.
Another election, another sign the GOP could win with normie candidates
On the Democratic side, that more-electable alternative is still a valid theoretical possibility; it’s just harder to grab hold of — at least for now.
And that, on top of how late it is and how arduous it would be to replace an incumbent president on the ballot, would seem to diminish the possibility.
Read the full article here