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LUNCHTIME POLITICS: Biden’s VP Pick? – North Carolina Senate, Governor – Florida – Coronavirus Update

Your Daily Polling Update for Tuesday, May 19


Same as Thursday

RON’S COMMENT: Today’s average is based on five polls, ranging from 41% (Reuters) to 48% (Rasmussen). Without these extremes it would still be 45%…. Trump’s disapproval rating averages 53% today (+1 since Thursday), which is 8 points higher than his approval rating…. See the trend in President Trump’s job approval average since the beginning of 2020 at approval trend.


Among voters nationwide

Biden over Trump: +6 (53-47)

RON’S COMMENT: Biden remains in the lead in this national poll. This same survey gives Trump a job approval rating of 47%.

Biden over Trump: +6 (53-47)

RON’S COMMENT: This poll is good news for Biden. In 2016, Trump carried the Sunshine State by a narrow 1.2 points. In the last six presidential elections, Republicans won the state three times and Democrats won it three times. Key findings from the poll report:

  • Independents in Florida are slightly breaking for Biden, 41-39. However, 63% of independent voters who are voting for Trump are excited about his candidacy, while 50% of independents voting for Biden are excited about him.
  • Biden leads South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) 61-30 and Trump leads the rest of the state 48-42.
  • The most important issue for Republicans is the economy, followed by re-electing Trump.
  • The most important issue for Democrats is beating Trump, followed by healthcare.
  • Trump’s rating in Florida is 43% approve/46% disapprove His approval rating has dropped 6 points since March.
  • On his handling of the coronavirus, Trump’s rating is 45% approve/45% disapprove.


Among voters statewide

Trump over Biden: +3 (46-43)

RON’S COMMENT: This shows Biden edging Trump in North Carolina. Trump won the state in 2016 by nearly 4 points. Though Republicans have won the state in nine of the last ten presidential elections, it’s commonly viewed as a critical swing state.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R) over Cal Cunningham (D): +1 (41-40)

RON’S COMMENT: This is a key Senate battleground. Incumbent Tillis is in trouble and Democrats are going all out to unseat him. Handicappers rate the race a tossup.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) over Dan Forest (R): +15 (51-36)

RON’S COMMENT: Incumbent Cooper starts the general election with a substantial lead in a swing state. Handicappers rate the race lean, tilt or likely Democratic.


Among adults and voters nationwide

From Morning Consult polling reports:

  • Political rallies: 22% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans say they’d be comfortable attending a political rally in the next three months.
  • Concern: 73% of Democrats and 43% of Republicans are now “very” concerned about the outbreak (a 30-point gap). In a late March-early April poll, 76 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of Republicans said the same (a 15-point gap).
  • Social distancing: 10% of Democrats and 23% of Republicans now say they are continuing to socialize in public places (a 13-point gap). In late April, 9 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of Republicans said the same (a 2-point gap).
  • Economic concerns: In the latest survey of registered voters, 16% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans said they were more concerned about the economic impact than the health impact of the outbreak (a 39-point gap). In late March, 19% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans said the same (a 20-point gap).
  • Second wave: There is also a partisan divide on whether the U.S. will be ready to handle a second wave of coronavirus. 61% of Republicans say the U.S. is prepared, compared to one-third of independents and 24% of Democrats.
  • China: 73 percent of U.S. adults say the Chinese government bears at least some blame for the deaths, which is tied with “Americans who didn’t socially distance.”
  • Stress and anxiety: 49% of U.S. adults say their general stress and anxiety levels linked with the crisis has been challenging for them; 32% say the same about personal finances.
  • Second wave: 79% of all voters say it’s likely there will be a second wave of the virus next year. There are no major differences by party on this question.


By Ron Faucheux

Who will be Joe Biden’s running mate?

Given Biden’s age, voters will be tempted to view his vice-president as a future president or, at least, a major contender for the top job one day. If Biden wins and decides not to seek re-election, his second-in-command would be in the catbird seat for 2024.

Throughout history, it’s hard to handicap vice-presidential derbies without knowing the innermost feelings of the decision-makers. What does Biden really think of Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar? He’s campaigned against them and with them. He’s sized up their strengths and weaknesses. We have no idea what he really thinks.

Over the years, Biden has had dealings with others, such as former Arizona governor and cabinet member Janet Napolitano, Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. He’s followed the careers of Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Florida Rep. Val Demings and former Georgia state legislator Stacey Abrams. About them, too, his true feelings are a mystery.

Presidents want vice-presidents they trust.

Another unknown is the vetting process. Probing the backgrounds of Democratic VP contenders by Biden’s inner circle could unearth disqualifying flaws that we now know nothing about.

Vice-presidential screenings, as always, should start with capacity to be president. While that metric is supposedly used, and sometimes really is, political factors often push it aside.

Can the running mate deliver a swing state? In close elections, that counts. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine was less than a stellar national candidate, but he did help Hillary Clinton bag his state’s 13 electoral votes––Virginia was the only southern state she carried. Bill Clinton’s number two, Al Gore, played a big role delivering Tennessee twice.

Running mates don’t always bring their states with them. Paul Ryan failed to carry Wisconsin for Mitt Romney, just as John Edwards couldn’t win North Carolina for John Kerry.

Balance can have strategic importance. Biden, himself, was picked by Barack Obama because his foreign policy credentials and long Senate service balanced Obama’s inexperience. The frumpy Lyndon Johnson, a Protestant from Texas with legendary legislative skills, was picked to balance the glamorous, 43-year-old John Kennedy, a Catholic from Massachusetts.

But Bill Clinton proved that balance isn’t always desirable. His choice of Al Gore––another young, Ivy League, southern centrist––was an exercise in image reinforcement.

Energizing the party’s base becomes a factor when the presidential nominee needs to shore up grassroots activists. John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin and Donald Trump’s selection of Mike Pence were designed to reassure staunch conservatives without offending swing voters. McCain’s pick flopped, Trump’s succeeded.

Campaign experience is a consideration––having a running mate who’s already been through the paces of a national campaign is a big plus. That helped Gore and George H. W. Bush, two losing presidential contenders, win VP nods. Then there is political obligation––Franklin Roosevelt put John Nance Garner on the ticket in return for his delegates at the 1932 convention.

In the current vice-presidential sweepstakes––Warren and Napolitano may be seen as best prepared to be president, but others could lay claim to that mantle as well. In terms of delivering a critical state, Whitmer tops the list with Michigan’s 16 electoral votes––although Klobuchar could help with Minnesota and Baldwin with Wisconsin. Being from Florida, the quintessential battleground, is a plus for Demings; her downside is that she’s only won one of the state’s 27 House districts and has never won a statewide election.

Warren on the ticket, for sure, would solidify the party’s left wing around Biden’s candidacy––but she could also turn off moderates and swing voters. Harris, Klobuchar and Warren all have recent national campaign experience, which is a significant strength, but Whitmer, a 48-year old midwestern governor, may best balance Biden’s traits.

How about diversity? Biden could not have won the nomination without steadfast support from African Americans. Democrats who want a diverse ticket now handicap Kamala Harris as the strongest choice––although, in truth, she had trouble attracting support from black voters in her own presidential bid. That’s why Demings and Abrams, and perhaps others, may still be in the hunt.

Interestingly, two of the most popular possibilities for vice-president are off the list––Michelle Obama, who doesn’t want it, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who has been ruled out based on Biden’s pledge to select a woman.

While Joe Biden’s decision is the source of frantic speculation, and could make history, it probably won’t determine who wins in November. Voters vote for president, not vice president. Although this time, with a 77-year old candidate, the choice takes on added importance.

A version of this column was published in The Times Picayune, see here


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Presidential job rating average based on recent nationwide polls.
PRESIDENT: Harvard-Harris, May 13-14
FLORIDA: Florida Atlantic University BEPI, May 8-12
CORONAVIRUS: Morning Consult, May 8-10, May 5-8, April 22-24


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Publication schedule: Lunchtime Politics will publish Tuesdays and Thursdays during the weeks ahead, but will add special editions when important new data becomes available. As soon as political polling gears up again, we will return to regular daily publication. Thanks to all our readers and best of health, Ron

Lunchtime Politics is owned and published by Ron Faucheux, Chief Analyst at Certus Insights. For interviews or speeches about polling and political trends, contact Dr. Faucheux at

The publisher of this report cannot attest to the reliability or methodology of surveys that it does not conduct.

Copyright 2020 Ronald A. Faucheux

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Ron Faucheux

Dr. Faucheux is a nationally respected public opinion analyst with a unique background in public policy and legislative research, public communications and message strategies. He combines professional competence with pragmatic problem solving skills.