Polls Show Biden's Narrowing Path To Victory | Crooked Media
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July 10, 2024
What A Day
Polls Show Biden's Narrowing Path To Victory

In This Episode

  • Lawmakers continue to weigh in on the fate of President Biden’s re-election campaign. Vermont’s Peter Welch on Wednesday became the first Democratic senator to call on Biden to step aside. However, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on MSNBC that her fellow Democratic lawmakers should “hold off” on publicly debating the issue until after this week. Meanwhile, actor George Clooney penned a New York Times op-ed to describe a recent fundraiser he co-hosted for Biden and said the president was, “the same man we all witnessed at the debate.” Amid all the will-he-or-won’t-he chatter, what do voters think about Biden? Friend of the pod Dan Pfeiffer breaks down some of the recent polls in excerpts from the latest episode of, “Pollercoaster.”And in headlines: Two Senate Democrats asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for possible tax and ethics violations, testimony began in the involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin, and Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin became the latest governor to call for restrictions on cell phone use in K-12 schools.


Show Notes:


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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, July 11th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The pod that hoped to never hear from Ron DeSantis ever again. 


Priyanka Aribindi: After it was reported that he would not speak at next week’s Republican National Convention, outlets are now saying that he will have some time on the mic. Apparently, there was a schedule change?


Juanita Tolliver: What self-respecting person would want to join the coronation for a convicted felon and twice impeached one term president? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Think you answered your question there with self-respecting. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, Democratic lawmakers say Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should be investigated for ethics violations. Plus, I am announcing my retirement because–


Juanita Tolliver: Woo hoo! 


Priyanka Aribindi: –Taco Bell is opening up a pop up retirement community next month, and I would like to enjoy a tiki cocktail Bellgrande. 


Juanita Tolliver: That sounds absolutely fabulous. But first, there have been some major updates on the story we’re all watching. The fate of President Biden’s candidacy for reelection. Vermont Senator Peter Welch called for President Biden to withdraw from the presidential race in an op ed for The Washington Post yesterday. He is the first Democratic senator to do so. He wrote, quote, “Vermont loves Joe Biden. President Biden and Vice President Harris received a larger vote percentage here than in any other state. But regular Vermonters are worried that he can’t win this time, and they’re terrified of another Trump presidency.” Also yesterday, former speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke to MSNBC about her thoughts on folks calling for Biden to step aside. 


[clip of Nancy Pelosi] And I’ve said to everyone, let’s just hold off whatever you’re thinking. Either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think everyone is taking that advice. It feels like dominoes are falling here. What has Congress been saying about this? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, yesterday, Axios reported that the Republican led House Oversight Committee subpoenaed three senior White House aides to discuss Biden’s health and mental acuity later this month, Republicans also requested to speak with Biden’s personal doctor, Kevin O’Connor. No surprise there that Republicans are taking advantage of this moment to, you know, do what they do, drag Biden down as far as they can. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. I mean, they do it when there is no issue. And now that there is blood in the water, of course they have jumped on it. And, you know, we also have some commentary from Hollywood as well. What is going on with that? 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. George Clooney penned an op ed in the New York Times yesterday, describing the fundraiser for Biden that he co-hosted last month. Clooney wrote, quote, “It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the Joe big effing deal Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.” In the midst of all of this turmoil among Democrats, we wanted to learn more about how voters are feeling. Many analysts and political strategists are pointing to the polls and sounding the alarm about Biden’s candidacy and his impact on down ballot races. Of course, polls are merely a snapshot of voter sentiment at a specific moment in time, and they are not predictive. But they do include information that campaigns and political forecasters use to make strategic decisions as the campaign progresses. Yesterday, Biden’s former communications director urged the presidential campaign to show its polling, saying on the social media platform X if they have data that supports the path to victory that they see, they should put it out there now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I know the campaign has since released that they do believe they still have a path to victory through Latino voters. But let’s dive into some of that recent data. That was the focus of the latest episode of Crooked Media’s Pollercoaster. That is our series exclusively for friends of the pod subscribers, and it features former White House communications director and Pod Save America host Dan Pfeiffer, as well as producer Caroline Reston. So what did they have to say about all of this? 


Juanita Tolliver: One of the first takeaways from the episode is that, based on the most recent polls, one respected political forecaster has shifted its outlook in six states. Take a listen. 


[clip of Dan Pfeiffer] Biden is behind. He’s behind nationally. He’s behind in the swing states. The Cook Political Report, which is probably the premier election forecasting publication out there, just earlier this week changed their ratings for six states. Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. They moved them from toss up to lean Republican, and they took Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Nebraska’s second congressional district and moved them from likely Democrat to lean Democrat. They make their decisions based not just on public polling, but a lot of campaigns and political action committees share their internal polling with the Cook Political Report to try to shift these races, because you are more likely to get donations and support and endorsements if you are a toss up race than a lean Republican race. And so this is not them throwing darts at a dartboard. This is a very well-researched, well-considered decision. To put that in perspective, if it is truly the case and time will tell that Arizona, Nevada and Georgia are not necessarily winnable for Biden. That means he has to win Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and the second Congressional District of Nebraska to get to exactly 270 electoral votes. So his path is much narrower than Trump’s. I think there’s been a lot of gaslighting from a lot of pro-Biden people, including the Biden campaign, in the wake of the debate. The reality is Biden was behind in the debate. He’s more behind now because of the debate. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, the debate impact here really shows how much more narrow that path for Biden’s campaign to reach 270 electoral votes is. But also, no one should take anything too lightly from the Cook Political Report because, as Dan mentioned, they get their data from a lot of places. This is meticulously planned. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: But I just have to remind our audience, this is not predictive. It is just a snapshot as of July 11th, 2024. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Sticking to the swing states, here’s what Dan and Caroline flagged about Trump’s gains in the polls in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia since the first presidential debate at the end of June. 


[clip of Caroline Reston] When I was doing research for this episode, I was looking at swing states, polls post-debate, and I just want you to, like, talk a little bit more through it because these numbers were, like, really alarming to me. It was Nevada, Trump leads 47 to 41. His lead increase went from three points to six points. In Pennsylvania, his lead increase went from three points to five points. In Georgia, four points to five points. Like, that’s really scary to read when you know that this election is going to come down to a couple thousand people in these swing states. Are you alarmed by this? What feels like–


[clip of Dan Pfeiffer] Yes. 


[clip of Caroline Reston] –a massive swing? 


[clip of Dan Pfeiffer] I think we need to lets see this settle out. In the internal polls right now, not the Biden campaign polls based on what we understand. Not the Biden campaign polls. Their polls seem to be more optimistic than everyone else and their pollsters are very good. So I just want to stipulate that they’re very, very good. But the polls for various Senate campaigns and gubernatorial candidates and state parties are worse than that, right? I’ve seen polls that have Biden down as much as ten in some of the swing states, including Pennsylvania. And so is that really what he’s down? Probably not, but he is down in those states. 


Juanita Tolliver: I want to emphasize let this settle out a little bit. [laugh]


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Because when the news cycle has been dominating the narrative around concerns about Biden, you have members of Congress stepping forward. You have disarray among Democrats, right? Of course, there’s going to be these reactions, heightened reactions from voters. But I am curious to see what this is a month out, two months out, what it looks like after the Republican National Convention next week, because I’m sure people will have more reactions. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I know, and it’s tough to say because everyone, as always, seems to want to see things immediately, and there’s not a lot of time to spare between now and the election. But as you, as Dan, as everyone knows these things, they change over time. 


Juanita Tolliver: Another big factor in this presidential election is the impact of Biden’s candidacy on down ballot races, those critical Senate and House races that will determine control of Congress, as well as gubernatorial races where Republicans are putting up their best anti-abortion anti LGBTQ candidates, like in North Carolina. But based on the latest data, there hasn’t been much of an impact down ballot just yet. 


[clip of Caroline Reston] Is there polling on how Biden’s debate performance is affecting Democrats running in states? Like, is it affecting someone like Senator Tammy Baldwin? Is it affecting Democrats down the ballot in a negative way? 


[clip of Dan Pfeiffer] We have not seen that yet in the public polling. Senate Democrats continue to outrun Biden. That was true before the debate. That is true now. The AARP had a poll in Wisconsin that came out earlier this week. It was a bipartisan poll conducted by a firm that polls for the Biden campaign and a firm that polls for the Trump campaign. So I think you treat this as a high quality poll, and that poll had Biden down a few points in Wisconsin, but Tammy Baldwin out running Biden by 12 points. 


Juanita Tolliver: Now, this is the interesting part, because if you have voters turning out en masse for someone like Senator Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, you have to understand that there is very little likelihood that those same voters will either leave the presidential race blank or vote against Joe Biden at the top of the ticket. I think people can look at this and just try to understand that this presidential election is not happening in a vacuum. And as the numbers show, as of today, there’s not a negative impact down ballot. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, there are a lot of tough things that we’ve been seeing in polls lately. This, not one of them something something good for once. 


Juanita Tolliver: She said there’s a glimmer of light. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’ll take it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Friends of the pod can listen to the full episode of Pollercoaster, which came out today. Tune in to hear more of Dan digging into the numbers and outlining what he believes Democrats should do next to turn things around. If you’re not a friend of the pod, sign up today at crooked.com/friends. And that’s the lastest for now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We’ll get to some headlines in just a moment, but if you like our show please make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be right back after some ads. [music break] 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Two Senate Democrats have asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel to investigate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Ron Wyden of Oregon want the Justice Department to look into whether Thomas violated federal tax and ethics laws. They say that he accepted luxury trips and gifts from wealthy donors worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, some of it unreported. In a letter dated last week that became public on Tuesday, the two senators wrote that the evidence, quote, “plainly suggests that Justice Thomas has committed numerous willful violations of federal ethics and false statement laws.” I mean, people, this is happening in public. We know he did it. 


Juanita Tolliver: And lives that sponsored life. 


Priyanka Aribindi: [laugh] Neither the Supreme Court nor the Justice Department has publicly commented on the letter. Meanwhile, New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez filed articles of impeachment against Thomas and fellow ultra conservative Justice Samuel Alito on Wednesday. My only question is why has it taken this long? We’ve known this. She said that their failure to recuse themselves from cases in which they had financial or personal stake, quote, “constitutes a grave threat to American rule of law.” She cited both gifts they received from donors and recent cases related to January 6th. As a reminder, Alito was out there flying flags at his houses, plural, that were carried by some of the insurrectionists on January 6th, while Thomas’s wife Ginni was actively involved in former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. It doesn’t get any more clearcut than that, in my opinion. I don’t know what are we doing here? 


Juanita Tolliver: I hope that the American public keeps these facts front of mind as they’re getting these horrible decisions out of this right wing court. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: The trial against actor Alec Baldwin over the fatal 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust, began on Wednesday. The DA for Santa Fe, New Mexico, the county where the shooting took place, charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter last year. Baldwin pleaded not guilty, maintaining his claim that the gun fired accidentally. Prosecutors argued that Baldwin recklessly handled the gun that killed Hutchins and skipped crucial safety checks on set. Baldwin’s defense attorney told the jury yesterday that his client, quote, “committed no crime. He was an actor, acting.” The prosecution also called two police officers who responded to the incident to the stand. They also showed the jury the officer’s body camera footage from the day of the shooting, showing their interactions with Baldwin and others on set. Under New Mexico law, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 18 months in prison. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin became the latest governor to call for restrictions on cell phone use in K-through-12 schools. In an executive order he signed on Tuesday, Youngkin directed the state education department to come up with guidance for school districts to help them adopt cell phone free education. Youngkin cited the risk that social media and phones pose to kids mental health and safety. In a statement, he said that limiting the use of phones in schools will, quote, “promote a healthier and more focused educational environment.” Across the country, the governors of Florida and Indiana have already signed laws that ban cellphones from classrooms, while the governors of California and New York are pushing similar efforts to limit phones in schools. Last month, the U.S. Surgeon general also called for tobacco style warnings to be put on social media apps. This seems like something that is getting both sides of the aisle on board. 


Juanita Tolliver: And finally, Taco Bell is starting a new business venture. The fast food company announced yesterday that it is opening a, quote, “early retirement community” experience in San Diego next month. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Sign us up. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right like please. [laugh] The Cantinas is a two day event exclusively for Taco Bell Rewards members. Members 21 and up will have access to amenities and activities you typically associate with seniors living in retirement homes. Think bocce ball, croquet and arts and crafts projects like knitting. Okay, as a geriatric at heart. I love [laughing] this. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I know a lot of young people who like to knit. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right? Come on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Croquet less so. But bocce for sure. 


Juanita Tolliver: Taco Bell’s marketing official said that The Cantinas is an opportunity for their rewards members, to, quote, “live their mas however they want.”


Priyanka Aribindi: Committed to the bit. 


Juanita Tolliver: [laugh] The experience runs August 17th and 18th. Reservations open this week. Sign me up immediately. I’m happy to host What a Day from The Cantinas. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we’re going to do a live show from this retirement community. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We’re going to go wild. I love it, honestly. Taco Bell, get in contact here. We you have some fans on this program. We would like to talk about your tacos. 


Juanita Tolliver: Uh. Specifically your Doritos Locos tacos with fire sauce. I’ll take three, please. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: I love it. Every part of this is masterful. 


Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. 




Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show. Make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Let me off this Pollercoaster and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just the Taco Bell Retirement activity calendar like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


[spoken together] And see you at the burrito bocce ball courts. 


Juanita Tolliver: Can I confess something? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Always. 


Juanita Tolliver: I don’t like burritos. I don’t like the–


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh. 


Juanita Tolliver: –bunched up tortilla at the end. It just like, is not good. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Me neither really. But I thought you were going to make it about bocce ball. I don’t really get bocce, but maybe someone– 


Juanita Tolliver: Really? 


Priyanka Aribindi: –can teach me? 


Juanita Tolliver: I love bocce. It’s like grass bowling. [laughing]


Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.