Philip Green
8 min readFeb 23, 2024


2024 Oh My! Oh My!

I’ve been looking at the polls obsessively–there is no other way to look at them, they have a life of their own. What I see is as attractive as a rattlesnake den, so I’m going to cut to the chase here and ignore the bad news until and unless it changes, but this has to be said in all honesty: there’s not a single serious political commentator–and for that matter not a single one of my serious friends–who thinks Biden is going to win the election.

To begin with, the nature and meaning of political polls has changed so drastically that it’s very difficult to draw such conclusions from it. But that’s because they reflect a much deeper underlying reality.

One way to understand this new reality is being plumbed by the acceptance or rejection of Donald Trump as the herald of Truth. Six and seven decades ago, when the behavioral social science was at its peak, one of its generally accepted conclusions was in the field of political socialization: that is, how children’s political beliefs develop from childhood to adulthood. At the risk of oversimplification, the two strongest influences, based on empirical research , were said to be family and political party membership.

I imagine that no one will be surprised at the decline of those two influences, at least on the American Right and their replacement in today’s right-wing milieu by the phantasmic world of Donald Trump, which consists almost entirely of a) his interpretation of socio-political events; and b) an unalloyed commitment to the use or threat of the use of violence, to protect against external threats against, or embed his political institutions or beliefs in his demands.

This is usually called the Politics of Grievance or Victimization; but I’ve come to reject that terminology (having often used it myself). Grievance at having been unfairly treated by whom, when? Victimized when trying to do what? We have only to look at the utter nonsense of anti-immigration rhetoric and behavior from people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from it, and suffer from it not in the slightest, to understand that, to be metaphorical, an unloaded pistol is not a nuclear warhead. Trumpism is simply, a strange combination of empirical and metaphysical insanity.

Contemporary liberalism, by way of contrast, has an often sharply delineated world-view, with epigones ranging from John Stuart Mill, FDR, Lyndon Johnson, and Joseph Biden on the one hand, to critics such as Thomas Carlyle, Harold Laski, Willmoore Kendall, Ronald Reagan, and Herbert Marcuse on different versions of the other. All of them have written manifestos or representations about a subject matter that can be either accepted, or rejected, or puzzled over, while remaining fully within the realm of a worldly sensibility. The reactionary Liz Cheney, may vote for Joe Biden, but never for the Trump lickspittle J.D. Vance.

The oddity, however–and it is an oddity hard to grasp–is that neither one of the two modes of thought limping toward what may be a world-changing conclusion in 2024,is captured by the above description, because neither of the two, liberal or anti-liberal, has a consistent behavioral meaning in the minds of the people who make up the world–a very small world–of respondents to presidential polling. Neither upbringing–(as my anecdotal father and daughter described below)–nor at least in one case political party, as in the transformation and decline of what used to be a political party now typified by the helpless Mitch McConnell, has the formative power they once did. In the end the polled are voting for Trump or not for Trump, whose own consistency is non-existent.

All this being said, we can now consider what the polls are telling us.

1. The race has become very close. One or two points separate most results. The latest Quinnipiac Poll has Biden ahead for the first time, by 4 points.

2. Donald Trump is not losing votes because he’s anti-democratic, or threatening to bring about autocracy, or an abuser of women, or being put down by Nikki Haley, or fighting against multiple felony counts. Those are all aspects of Donald Trump, and they are unaccountable in the ordinary terms that politics has usually been fought through in the U.S. I know someone, a good Left-liberal whose daughter became a Trumper; they have never discussed this and probably never will: from his standpoint, what is there to say? Most of you have probably had such an experience.

3. Joe Biden is apparently not losing votes because of his age. How do we know this? In recent polls(such as that one) he has been pitted not against Trump, or Trump alone–but compared with how other liberal Democrats have fared against Trump–specifically, Newsom, Whitmer, and Harris. And lo and behold, he equals or out-polls all of them (Harris, maybe not). They’re all much younger than him, did terrifically well in their last election (Witmer and Newsom, anyhow): and apparently despite their claims to the contrary most Democrats still poll for him. Again, if as some are hoping, Biden were to step aside and then Harris was passed over that would be like lighting a stick of dynamite at the center of the Democratic coalition. But all three are doing worse than Biden. One of them should at least be at a comparable position (See Josh Marshall in “Talking Points Memo” for this analysis.)

4. But now we come to the kicker: None of this is relevant because all these polls are not measuring, or not paying attention to, what really matters!

What do I mean by that?

I’m not going to take a position about that monumental question that will one way or the other define our civilization. It is certainly the case, though, that at this moment all the major pollsters–Cook Reports, Larry Sabato, Crystal Ball, polls, show similar results. There is one aspect of the election, however, that they are all tending to ignore, and that needs to be cleared up.

I’ve identified the three major poll aggregators above, but their analysis is not that simple. This is the problem: they all proceed by drawing up electoral maps, which lists every state by its number of electoral votes, then identify them by color, as some variant of blue, light blue, red, light red, and neutral, and aggregates the results.

This is very minor league. California is blue: 55 electoral votes. New Mexico is blue: 5 electoral votes, or one/eleventh of a state that has over 18 times the population. There is an effort in all the maps to draw the states up by relative size to mimic the electoral college, but that is utterly fruitless. To apply the experience of Hillary Clinton, vote totals and numbers of states and their sizes do not match: you can prevail in one and not the other. Or to put it another way: Biden got 51% of the popular vote (roughly) but almost 54% of the electoral vote. Whoa! No wonder Trump went to bed thinking he’d won. He was ahead in the popular vote — but unknowingly awaiting an electoral landslide.

If we consider this discrepancy carefully in the present circumstances, we may find, among other things, that conversely,Trump can win the electoral vote, and yet Biden win the popular vote: and probably generate a ciivil war. How so? Simply put, most of the 50 states (and D.C.) are decided decisively (even New Mexico), but only a handful (or a handful and a half) are actually competititve–and those decide the election: the endlessly advertised Battleground States!

Thus the closeness of polls is irrelevant, because most don’t don’t count,or don’t yet count, even as Biden’s support grows.The practical effect of this conditiion is this: Trump goes into the “battleground” with 232 electoral votes he can count on. He got that many in 2020 and as the polls seem to indicate he isn’t going to lose any. Biden got 306 electoral votes, but he won the election by winning all the battleground states, mostly by tight margins, for a sum total of 72 EV –GA. PA, WI, MI, AR, NEV.

That is a very tough accomplishment to recapitulate. In other words, he can only count on 234 EV: a virtual tie. And as is so often the case, the map is not the territory. I’ll go to Cook Reports, which is the easiest to deal with. Cook Reports shows 226 Electoral Votes Safe or Leaning for Biden, according to my view of it. Sabato has a difference in “Leaning,”; 538 has no such breakdowns.

However, on any map the “Leaning for” includes Michigan, which all polls everywhere contrarilhy show sliding heavily toward Trump at this point in time.

Why, we don’t really know. Biden’s embrace of Netanyahu certainly has something to do with it: there are 240,000 Arab American votes in Michigan, apparently. What about organized labor, though, which Biden has embraced so heartily and honestly? Not showing, not even when Witmer is substituted for Biden. It’s as though the union population of Michigan has been reading all the literature about how the working class is now Republican, and either doesn’t know or care about the policy differences of Biden’s term–which are hugely in favor of labor. Perhaps it’s immigration–from Canada?-or personality, or age? In any event there it is: a potential disaster for democracy, and perhaps much of the world.

To summarize then, , if via Cook’s Reports you have Biden’s projected EV figure at 226 where it resides, thus not helping Biden at all, you have to imagine that the state which had a Democratic landslide for every state or local office in 2020 is now Trump territory.

Unfortunately, that leaves Biden’s projected base still at 226 –needing 268 to win (there are no ties, since the total EV is the odd number of 535). This is terrible. Where will the make-up come from?–It has to be from other “Leaning blue” states.

Okay, Pennsylvania’s 19 is probably going for Biden–to be generous to Trump’s analytic powers, he probably meant if the state went to Biden it would change to Blue–except it already is. Anyhow, take his word for it and Biden’s now up to 245 EV. So is Wisconsin–like PA, shown as leaning in all accounts, but like PA it’s very likely to go Dem on the basis of the last few years.–so we’re up to 255. Even that is uncertain And there we stall.

We can look at Georgia but forget it. The (one-sided) polls show it as being back to the Confederacy in–just look at the slime fest to which Fanny Willis has been subjected without the faintest indication that anything resembling prosecutorial bias has resulted from her affair with Nathan Wade (think of all the senators and reps who’d be down the drain on that basis). Anyhow, in the polls it’s even worse than Michigan, so bye-bye. Still at 255, needing 268. (One NOTE here. You might wonder about Virginia, but it’s considered to be “leaning Blue” by everybody, and we can leave it at that. It’s not a battleground, it’s a bell-wether: there is no scenario by which Biden loses VA but wins the election. Might as well be New York, If it’s 6 am on Election Wednesday and VA is trailing, forget it: find a good movie on Netflix.)

So then what?–Arizona at 11, and Nevada at 6. That’s it, without Michigan that’s it. Same for Trump.They both need Arizona, and–minus Michigan– Biden needs Navada too. The whole story.

The polls show Arizona another questionable bet, though hard to rate since the Fascist Kari Lake has torn up the turf, still asserting she won the governorship which, let’s face it, was very, very close in her run for it in ’22. Like all of Trump losers, and maybe the worst of all, she’s in a perpetual rage–which then becomes what the Arizona Republican Party is.

So can Biden win Arizona and Nevada? Or Michigan? And thus defeat Trump? The guns will be out to prevent this in Arizona, we’ve seen that before, and it will be worse now.

What to say? If things stay bad, that’s the end of the democratic state. I’ll have more to say about that if I can bring myself to do it. But meanwhile, there we are: watch Michigan; watch Arizona; even Nevada. And hope I’m going to drop this subject until and unless there’s some significant change.