Dems Need New Polling Data to Resolve the Biden Question

The only thing that Democrats can agree on right now is the urgent need to beat Donald Trump in the presidential election.


In the wake of consistently troubling poll results, made worse by a worrisome debate performance, the question of whether incumbent President Joe Biden or a younger candidate stands a better chance of defeating Trump has become the most bitterly disputed question of the year.


Biden and his supporters are circling the wagons and accusing his Democratic critics of undermining the battle against the Republican Party’s would-be dictator by amplifying unfair criticism. 


Biden critics believe that the elderly president’s egotism has caused him and his supporters to double down on a bad bet that risks the future of our democracy. 


Critics ​​point to a new poll that shows Wisconsin’s Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin winning by five points, while Biden loses to Trump by five points; a ten point negative swing in a state that Democrats will need to win. Senator Jackie Rosen is also up 5 points in recent polls in Nevada, where Biden trails Trump by 5 points.   


In a controversial July 9 editorial, James Carville proposed a “Democratic mini-primary” that would shift the national discussion from Biden’s age to excitement over a new generation of charismatic Democratic leaders. It would involve a series of televised town halls to vet the candidates and provide the public, and August 19th’s Democratic National Convention delegates, with a better sense of who would make the strongest nominee.


Both sides in this increasingly heated argument sincerely believe that their position provides the best chance of beating Trump. But in reality, nobody really knows. It is all so dangerously hypothetical. Which is why, given the consequences of this monumental decision, Democrats need more information. 


To make the right decision, Democrats need to commission the best predictive polls that money can buy, and then trust the science of the results, instead of their personal loyalties. Despite billions that will be spent trying to elect the party nominee this year, nothing close to this effort has been done to date. These non-partisan polls would cost the DNC or a Democratic funder like Reed Hastings just a few million dollars, and could be completed in less than one week.


These urgently needed polls would survey thousands of registered voters in each of the dozen states that have swung both Republican and Democratic during the past four elections. The candidate that wins more of the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin will be our next president. 


Most presidential polls have been national polls of a representative sample of 1,000 or so people across the entire country, weighted by population. This means they survey just a few dozen people in swing states like Wisconsin and Arizona. 


To make a truly informed decision based on which Democratic leader is most likely to beat Trump, we desperately need presidential polls of about 2,000 people in EACH swing state (not nationwide). The results of a sample size this large, and focused, would provide a 99% confidence level with a 3% margin of error.


Of course, President Biden, as well as Vice President Harris, would be included in the polls running against Trump and the third party candidates on the ballot in each state. So would popular governors Gretchen Whitmer, Gavin Newsom, Josh Shapiro and Andy Beshear, as well as Pete Buttigieg.


These swing state polls would provide the perfect opportunity for Biden to demonstrate that he is the best candidate to beat Trump. If the aggregated polls show that Biden is statistically more likely than the other candidates in these swing states to beat Trump, then his critics can quiet down and line up to support him.


But if the data shows that other Democrats have a demonstrably stronger candidate, then his decision to step down, or the decision by party leaders to pressure him to do so, would be based on statistics, rather than speculation. Democratic leaders and donors could then join together to pressure the president to release his delegates within the next few weeks. 


Jonathan Greenberg is the founder of

He is an investigative journalist who has written about Trump since the 1982 Forbes 400, longer than any journalist, including a series of four impactful Trump exposes in the Washington Post during his presidency.