If Biden Is So Unpopular, Why Do Democrats Keep Winning?

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

A New York Times and Siena College poll released Nov. 5 showed Donald Trump leading Joe Biden in five of the six key swing states, with a notable jump in support among nonwhite and young voters. In response, Democrats freaked out.

But then two days later, voters across the country actually went to the polls, and Democrats and Democratic-associated policy did pretty well. In Kentucky, Andy Beshear held the governorship. Democrats took back the House of Delegates in Virginia. And Ohio voted for an amendment protecting abortion rights.

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App, Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

I asked Mike Podhorzer, a longtime poll skeptic, to help to help me understand the apparent gap between the polls and the ballot box. Podhorzer was the longtime political director of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. And as the founder of the Analyst Institute, he was the godfather of the data-driven turn in Democratic campaign strategy. He also writes a newsletter on these topics called “Weekend Reading.”

We discuss the underlying assumptions behind polling methodologies and what that says about their results; how to square Biden’s unpopularity with the Democrats’ recent wins; why he thinks an anti-MAGA majority is Biden’s best bet to the White House and how that coalition doesn’t always map cleanly onto demographic data; what a newly energized labor movement might means for Biden; and much more.

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App, Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

This episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” was produced by Rollin Hu. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Kate Sinclair. Mixing by Jeff Geld and Efim Shapiro. Our senior editor is Claire Gordon. The show’s production team includes Emefa Agawu and Kristin Lin. Original music by Isaac Jones. Audience strategy by Kristina Samulewski and Shannon Busta. The executive producer of New York Times Opinion Audio is Annie-Rose Strasser. And special thanks to Carole Sabouraud.

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