Trump’s Red Wall Is Beginning to Crumble

A new poll shows Biden ahead in Missouri, a state that Trump carried in 2016 by 17 points.

Nicole Galloway, the State Auditor of Missouri, is running for governor. She hired the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group to poll her race and they tested the Biden-Trump contest as part of their survey. In the business, this is called a “partisan poll” because it’s paid for by a candidate. One advantage to a partisan poll is that a candidate is not compelled to release the data if they don’t like the results. Some polling outfits are not above producing the results their clients wants to see, and a good (even if dishonest) poll can give a struggling campaign some juice and help them attract volunteers, raise money, and get free media attention. ¬†For these reasons, you should always be skeptical of partisan polls, especially when they produce startling headlines.

The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group survey isn’t particularly great news for Auditor Galloway. She has a 40 percent to 47 percent deficit against incumbent Republican governor Mike Parsons. The pollsters helpfully characterize this as “closing the gap” and state that Parson’s lead has been”slashed in half over the past seventeen months.”

FiveThirtyEight gives the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group a middling B/C grade and says they have a D+1.3 mean-reverted bias. By contrast, the Trafalgar Group that does polling for Trump receives a C- rating and a R+0.9 mean-reverted bias. The best way to interpret this is that the Galloway poll is likely to be too optimistic for the Democrats.

So, with that caveat in mind, the survey found that Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump in Missouri by a 47 percent to 45 percent margin. The pollsters insist this “is consistent with national polls showing a double-digit Biden lead and state polls showing Biden ahead in other states Donald Trump won in 2016.” But it’s really not consistent with that. Trump won Missouri in 2016 by a thunderous 56.4 percent to 37.9 percent margin. Polls showing Biden outperforming Clinton by eight-to-ten points nationally and in key battleground states would not support a swing of this magnitude in Missouri. But, when we take the pro-Democratic bias of the pollster into account, we can see how it could bring Missouri into the competitive range.

That’s the real takeaway from these results. It’s unlikely that Biden is actually leading in Missouri but he could be approaching parity. And, with the trajectory things are on, that’s a recipe for eventually carrying the state. I think this is just one more data point that indicates that things are beginning to tilt heavily against Trump. Combined with a mid-June poll showing Biden down by two points in Arkansas and a recent Fox News poll showing him ahead by one point in Texas, we’re seeing a crumbling of the red wall in places where few people expected a competitive race.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com