Donald Trump’s new presidential campaign manager said Friday that public polls were underestimating support for the president, making a more academic version of his boss’ assertion that polls showing him badly trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden are “fake.”
“National polls keep getting it wrong,” said Bill Stepien, a former top aide to then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who replaced Brad Parscale as Trump’s campaign manager last week. “National polls are often askew from what 2016 exit polls were.”
In a briefing for reporters, Stepien argued that many national and state-level surveys of the presidential race are undercounting Republicans, noting the percentage of Republican voters in many polling samples is lower than state percentages of registered Republican voters.
Pollsters typically do not weight their results to reflect states’ party registration breakdowns — as they often do with demographics like gender, race, age or education levels —because survey respondents often say they identify with a party different than the one they are registered with. For example, many voters in Appalachian regions registered as Democrats years ago, even though they hold conservative views and now consider themselves Republicans.
Stepien’s argument, in addition to echoing Trump’s recent claim that polls showing him losing were “fake in 2016, and now they’re even more fake,” also resembles an argument frequently trotted out to explain GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s deficit against President Barack Obama in 2012.
Stepien predicted a “knock-down, drag-out fight to the very end” between Trump and Biden. He said the campaign was confident in its strategy and planning, noting it had deployed ground staffers for more than a year in key states like North Carolina. The Biden campaign only began rolling out state-level staffers in recent weeks.
“We know here at our headquarters what our internal numbers say, and it’s why we exude the quiet confidence in our plan and in our mission,” Stepien said.
He also mockingly invited the Biden campaign to pour resources into Georgia and Texas, two traditionally GOP-leaning states where surveys have shown a close race and where some Republicans have expressed concern about Trump’s standing in populous suburban counties.
“I would invite the Biden campaign to play in Texas. They should play hard. They should go after Texas really, really heavily, spend a lot of money in the Dallas and Houston media markets,” he told reporters. “I’ll even buy their first ad.”
While Stepien was publicly bullish, the campaign’s spending tells a different tale about Trump’s standing in Georgia and Texas. Trump has already spent nearly $5 million on ads in Texas, according to the ad tracking service Kantar/CMAG, and $3 million in Georgia. Biden has spent just $1 million in Texas and $500,000 in Georgia.
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