OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
A top CNN anchor appeared to be taken aback during a show segment on Sunday after learning from a network polling analyst former President Donald Trump is “in a stronger position” now than he was in 2020.
In an interview with host Jim Acosta, analyst Harry Enten said current polling data suggest that Trump appears to be gaining momentum at a clip unseen during his last campaign, which occurred at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing a Quinnipiac University survey from February, Enten noted that at the time President Joe Biden led by 2 points, but now, Biden is only up by one point, “well within the margin of error,” he said.
“But take away one thing from this and one thing only if you take away only one thing, and that is, I think there are a lot of Democrats who simply can’t believe that Donald Trump can be elected president again — the polling indicates that Trump is, in fact, in a stronger position at this point than he was during the entire 2020 campaign, according to the national polls,” Enten continued.
He went on to speculate that “if we had state-level polling, I wouldn’t even be surprised if Trump were ahead in the swing states that are most important,” he added.
That update appeared to shock Acosta.
“When the race is that close, it comes down to the Electoral College, and who knows what happens with that,” Acosta began. “We don’t even have those kinds of numbers just yet.
“But from a national standpoint, you’re absolutely right. It is remarkable where Trump stands right now when it comes to the rest of this field and with general election voters,” he added.
CNN's Jim Acosta appears stunned when confronted with President Trump's rising poll numbers.
"Donald Trump is in a stronger position now than all of the 2020 election and I wouldn't be surprised if he was leading in the swing states." pic.twitter.com/qRfIvjz4R2
— Brigitte Gabriel (@ACTBrigitte) August 20, 2023
Trump is leading his likely Democratic rival in several swing states, according to polling data from Echelon Insights published in early July.
The survey “found that 48% of respondents in swing states would probably or definitely vote for Trump, compared to just 41% for Biden. Though Biden is narrowly favored overall by likely voters, with 43% favoring him compared to 42% for Trump, the Republican front-runner could win 270 Electoral College votes by seizing the swing states,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Additionally, when considering the challenger Cornel West from the Green Party, Biden’s grip on the overall vote is also not guaranteed. The poll reveals that West has the potential to attract a substantial portion of Biden’s liberal voters, potentially enough to tilt the majority of the ballot in favor of Trump.
“When taking West into consideration, Biden’s share of the vote drops to 42%, with West taking 4% of the vote. Trump emerges triumphant with 43% of the vote,” the Examiner added. “Trump’s lead in swing states is further solidified when West is involved as well. Trump’s share remains at 48%, while Biden’s drops to 40%.”
West can play a decisive role in the overall outcome of next year’s race if he decides to stay in as a third-party candidate.
“There is always a danger a third-party candidate can impact the Electoral College results, particularly if they receive enough votes in a battleground state or states to change the outcome,” University of Akron (Ohio) political science Prof. David B. Cohen told Newsweek. “In a close election, Cornel West could well be a spoiler.”
He noted further: “There is no evidence to suggest that the 2024 election will be anything but a very close election decided by razor-thin margins, which means that a third-party candidate could have an outsized influence in the result.”
The Examiner noted further:
Biden’s fortunes would be even worse if artist Taylor Swift decided to run as an independent candidate, with the poll finding that she would win 7% of the vote, mostly poaching votes off Biden. Her entrance into the race would send Biden’s share of the vote in swing states down to 38%. In that case, Trump would take 43% of the overall vote, compared to Biden’s 41%.