by Freddie Sayers
Monday, 21
September 2020
Chart
15:00

Is this the question that will win it for Joe Biden?

by Freddie Sayers

We’re beginning to turn our attention to the forthcoming American election — and I’m excited to say we’ve run some of our own exclusive US polling, with our partners Focaldata (who we partnered with for the UnHerd Britain series before the December general election).

It’s a strange election for many reasons, and so we’re doing something a little bit different. Instead of the normal voting intention questions, we’ve put a series of statements to a large nationally representative sample of 4,000+ US citizens and asked whether they agree. The results are surprising, and give an insight into what might ultimately decide the election. We’ll be releasing them over the next week or two. First up…

Calm down, dears

Say what you like about Biden, he’s not going to set the house on fire. He’s been around since anyone can remember (I was revisiting deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 1993 confirmation hearings over the weekend, and who should be leading the questioning other than ol’ Joe Biden, already 51 years old and already a Senator at that point for 20 years).

As Nate Silver told me in our interview last week:

The argument Republicans will make against him is, OK well, Biden might be fine, but he is a Trojan horse for Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, Ilhan Omar, other more Left-leaning members of the party — which may be an effective attack, but the fact that they’re conceding that Biden might seem like he’s pretty reasonable, is a lot to concede to an opponent… Biden is a boring old white guy, and that insulates him from some criticisms of being a radical.
- Nate Silver, UnHerd interview

So if what Biden is offering is ultimately a more boring four years, is there an appetite for that? From the social media clips, protests and general tenor of the media debate, you’d presume Americans were all up in arms (sometimes literally) and ready to fight. But our statement — “Politically, the thing I’d like most is for everyone to calm down” — was greeted with an astonishing level of support. 84% of US voters agree, including 79% of 2016 Clinton voters, 94% of 2016 Donald Trump voters and 78% of people who didn’t vote in 2016.

Could this be the real “silent majority” in the US? And could it be the very fact of Joe Biden’s boringness that wins him the presidency?

Older and wiser

There’s an intriguing detail in our poll: when you analyse the results by age band, it becomes clear that the ennui with all the hotheaded political atmosphere grows steadily with the generations. The youngest cohort, 18-24-year-olds, are roughly evenly split between agreeing strongly, agreeing mildly and disagreeing altogether: fully 31% of them actively don’t want to calm down. But in the oldest cohort (don’t forget, the most likely age band to vote) a whopping 62% of them strongly agree with the statement, and only 9% disagree.

We’ll be publishing more results from our series in the coming days — stay tuned.

For full tables and methodology data please click HERE.

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