With the 2020 general election just seven weeks off, most polls indicate Democrat Joe Biden will garner more votes than President Trump, but the current margin is just 5.6 points and that spread could tighten – especially if the incumbent and his supporters are successful in portraying the former vice president as weak on law-and-order issues.
The United States has been roiled by racial justice protests – peaceful and otherwise – since Memorial Day when a white Minneapolis officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd, leading to the Black man’s death. Cries of defund the police have become a mantra and Trump has accused Biden of supporting the sentiment despite repeated denials. Part of the problem is no one knows what defund the police really means, and Biden has failed to articulate what reforms he does support.
A Siena/New York Times poll released during the weekend indicated Biden leads by 2 to 9 points in the battleground states of New Hampshire, Nevada, Wisconsin and Minnesota – and a YouGov/CBS poll confirmed Biden’s 9-point Minnesota lead. Three polls of Arizona voters – Gravis, You/Gov and OH Predictive Insights – give Biden a 2- to 10-point margin.
But when it comes to law-and-order issues, though, that support is soft – not just among white voters, but among Blacks and Latinos, as well.
The Siena poll – conducted Sept. 8-10 in New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota and Sept. 8-11 in Nevada among 445-814 voters in each state, with error margins ranging from 3.9% to 5.5% – indicates voters are taking the law-and-order issue more seriously than the coronavirus pandemic, and say Biden should have more forcefully rejected violent protests.
Biden Sunday condemned the shooting of two Los Angeles County deputies who were just sitting in their squad car when an assailant walked up and opened fire.
“These attacks are absolutely unconscionable — they bring only greater violence, injustice and grief to a nation in desperate need of healing,” Biden said in a statement, adding: “Acts of lawlessness and violence directed against police officers are unacceptable, outrageous and entirely counterproductive to the pursuit of greater peace and justice in America — as are the actions of those who cheer such attacks on. Those who perpetrate these crimes must be brought to justice, and, if convicted, face the full brunt of the law.”
Biden also has released ads accusing Trump of fanning “the flames of division” and violence, which Biden says Trump is using as a “political strategy.”
In condemning the recent violence as “senseless,” Biden said the Trump administration sees “violence as a winning electoral strategy, nevermind the cost to everyday Americans. Trump cannot bring himself to condemn violence that he himself is stoking.”
Trump, for his part, has been trying to stoke fear among suburbanites, accusing Biden of wanting to defund the police and “destroy America.”