There’s no question that Donald Trump is winning the yard sign vote in Michigan.
Drive around Metro Detroit and Trump/Pence signs are everywhere, and larger than I’ve ever seen for a political campaign. Some homes sport signs as big as billboards.
If I’ve seen a Biden/Harris sign, I don’t recall it. I can’t tell you what one looks like.
Trump is winning the lawn vote by a landslide.
And yet the polls show Biden still ahead in Michigan, although by half the margin of a month ago. On Aug. 22, the Real Clear Politics average had Biden up by 7 points; this week the lead has shrunk to 3.2 points.
My theory on polling this year is that if Trump — or any other Republican — is within 3 percentage points of the lead, in actuality the race is either tied or the GOP candidate is winning.
Republicans are reticent to openly acknowledge their Trump support. A Cato poll in July found 77% of Republicans are afraid to share their political views. And for good reason — Trump supporters have been physically attacked, publicly shamed and some say they were fired from their jobs for publicly supporting the president. Why would they risk sharing their voting preference with a pollster?
The Cato survey found the only group comfortable talking about where they stand politically are the far-left.
That makes political polls, which miscalled Trump’s victory in 2016, an inexact science again this year.
Are yard signs a better indicator?
Maybe not. Based on the signage, it’d be easy to assume that all of the energy here is behind Trump.
But a Detroit News/WDIV poll earlier this month gauged voter enthusiasm by both Democrats and Republicans as off the charts. Michigan voters appear eager to cast their ballots, and that’s borne out by the record number of absentee ballot requests.
That should benefit Democrats, since there are more of them in this state. And they came out big-time in the 2018 mid-term election to flip several traditionally Republican seats.
Still, the lack of visual evidence of their enthusiasm is good cause for Democrats to be uneasy. They could be witnessing a repeat of 2016, when the voters their party forgot about for eight years turned out, while too many Democratic voters stayed home.
Or, it could be the reason there is so little outward expression of Biden support is because this election isn’t really about him.
Democrats don’t love Biden. They hate Trump, obsessively so.
Trump is driving turnout on both sides of the ballot. Biden could be anybody with a “D” behind his name, and the Democratic tally would likely be the same.
Under normal circumstances, voters are more apt to make the effort to vote for a candidate, rather than against one. But this isn’t a typical election. There may never have been a candidate who evokes as much emotion, both positive and negative, as Donald Trump.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable predicting the election outcome in Michigan based on either polls or yard signs.
This is a passion election, and passion is a fickle thing.
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