The Double Haters

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Joe Biden has announced that he won’t show up at his own convention. While that is rather unusual, it might actually not be a bad move. Ever since he has been staying in his basement, his survey ratings have improved. I have always argued that if the media attention is on Trump, Biden will win. On the other hand, if the focus is on Biden, Trump has a chance. Let me explain.

A standard question we ask in surveys is personal favorability: Is your opinion about a person rather favorable or rather unfavorable? Obviously, people who have a favorable opinion about Donald Trump tend to vote for Trump. Voters who have a favorable opinion about Joe Biden tend to vote for Biden. The question is to know what happens with those who have an unfavorable opinion about both candidates? In the campaign jargon, we call them the double haters. They might abstain or vote for a third party candidate. But in a typical two-party system like the U.S., quite a number of them might still vote for one of the main candidates. Be it out of civic duty.

The exit polls have shown that back in 2016, the double haters have overwhelmingly voted for Trump and, in fact, delivered him his victory. This might be different this time around. Voters who say that they have an unfavorable opinion are then asked how unfavorable their opinion is: Is your opinion about XY very unfavorable or just unfavorable? And here comes the bad news for Donald Trump. A research by Morning Consult has shown that the double haters hate Trump more than they hate Biden. The group is also made up of different socio-demographics than four years ago. Apparently, the double haters are notably younger and more liberal this year around compared to 2016. That’s where the choice of the vice-presidential candidate comes into play. With the right pick, there’s a chance some double haters might turn out for Biden.

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