It’s a recipe for electoral disaster to expect to win. Each vote must be earned, and if the 2016 presidential election has taught us any lessons — there were many to glean — the American electorate can surprise us.

But I’m disturbed by the rush to all but condemn the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket to the waste bin of political history in recent weeks by fellow liberals who are taking our charming capacity to “wet the bed” to new heights.

Between the town hall with Donald Trump on CNN, which resurfaced a feeling of existential dread among those who oppose him, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll warning of President Biden’s negative numbers, Democrats seem to be spinning out.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

First things first. About that ABC/Post poll: Like many, I was surprised by the results that claim Trump could beat Biden by 7 points. How could that be? It’s out of step with many months of previous polling.

Well, this was a survey of 1,006 adults, which is certainly an adequate number of respondents, but they didn’t poll registered voters, as is the usual custom. So, although the poll aims to gauge the national mood, showing “here’s how America thinks Biden is doing,” it most certainly is not telling us, “If the election were held today, Trump would win.” Yet, some people are treating it as if it’s useful for that purpose.

Another way to know that it’s likely an outlier is that this poll contains some serious head-scratchers. Any honest broker knows it’s impossible for Trump to win the youth vote by 11 points, considering precedent, especially with the high youth turnout in 2022 and referendums on reproductive rights across the country. The poll has Biden winning the Hispanic vote by only 9 points, but Trump lost that bloc by 24 points in 2020. Biden likely isn’t registering just 34% support with independents; he won their vote by 14 points in 2020 and it’s hard to imagine a world in which he would win 83% of Democrats. And what are the odds that Trump would win 27% of the Black vote, when he got 12% last time around?

Other polls tell a very different story than the recent ABC/Washington Post poll.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll found Biden leading Trump narrowly (45% to 43%), which is consistent with five previous surveys conducted by Yahoo and YouGov. Biden’s approval was a staggering 20% higher than the Post poll found — 47% approve of the job he’s doing, while 50% disapprove. Interestingly, they found an uptick in the percentage of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who want Biden to be the nominee, versus someone else, from 42% in April to 52% in May.

Still, it wasn’t all good news for the White House. Close to two-thirds of Americans are concerned about Biden’s “health and mental acuity,” which is up 5 points since February. They don’t harbor the same fears about Trump’s health and mental acuity, even though he is just a few years younger than Biden (76 years old, to Biden’s 80). What’s more, only 32% believe that Vice President Harris is ready to assume the presidency — a finding that is rumored to be rattling 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as they try to put her more out front to instill faith in the ticket.

The Yahoo News/YouGov poll findings are also much more in line with a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll that found Biden leading Trump by 6 points (44% to 38%) in a hypothetical re-match. The result mirrored a WPA Intelligence poll, in which Biden led Trump by 7 points (47% to 40%), which expanded his winning percentage from 2020 by 4.5 points. It also showed Democrats with a 5-point lead on the generic ballot in which Biden faces off against Trump. The president’s approval hovered at 46%, with 54% disapproving. That’s not ideal but it’s much more in line with what we’ve seen over the past few months.

Democrats continue to win elections. Many pundits regularly bill the 2022 midterms as the “red wave that wasn’t,” and yet Republicans apparently have not learned their lesson. Just a few days ago, Democrats flipped two mayoralties in conservative strongholds — Jacksonville, Fla., and Colorado Springs, Colo. Jacksonville was the largest city in the country run by a Republican, until Donna Deegan’s win. And Colorado Springs will see its first independent Black mayor, Yemi Mobalde, who was backed by Democrats and some prominent Republicans, building a coalition that flies in the face of the status quo that voted handily for Trump in 2020.

Viewed as a “seismic shift” in Colorado politics by The Gazette, Mobalde’s campaign, as well as Deegan’s, used a proven recipe for success: leaning into messages of unity while carefully demonstrating how toxic the GOP brand has become in the wake of last summer’s Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court decision on abortion. It’s working: There have been 18 state legislative races this year and Democrats have outperformed the 2020 results by an average of 6 points.

As Republicans continue to pass hugely unpopular six-week abortion bans, such as in Florida, and ignore the 63% of American voters who are less likely to back a candidate who favors severe restrictions on abortion, as well as the 67% of voters who are more likely to support a candidate who backs stricter gun laws, Democrats will keep succeeding at the ballot box.

And though it may run counter to the bed-wetting tendencies of some in my party, the truth is that Democrats are showing up for Joe Biden in the White House. We are overperforming, compared to precedent, and races across the country are giving us a roadmap for continuing to succeed in 2024.

It doesn’t make you a Pollyanna to tout Democratic accomplishments; it makes you a realist. And the real world is where elections are fought and won. Bowing to any media narrative-du-jour will have you cowering in a corner on election night, fearing a “red wave” that might never come, as we saw with the 2022 midterms. So, keep the faith. 

Jessica Tarlov (@JessicaTarlov) is head of research for Bustle Digital Group and a Fox News contributor. She holds a Ph.D. in political science from the London School of Economics.

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