President Donald Trump lashed out on Wednesday morning at several polls showing him losing to the entire field of top Democratic 2020 contenders, accusing them of being fake “suppression polls” while defending internal polling that he reportedly told staffers to lie about.
Trump’s comments were a repeat of accusations he’s levied against critics in the past.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Trump was recently briefed on “devastating” internal polling from his own campaign that showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in 17 states, including Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which he would need to win in 2020 to keep the White House. Trump reportedly told aides to deny the polling’s results, and after the polling leaked, he told them to say the campaign had other data showing him doing well.
A new Quinnipiac poll published Tuesday evening also showed many Democratic contenders besting Trump in head-to-head matchups, including Biden (by 13%), Bernie Sanders (by 9%), Kamala Harris (by 8%), Elizabeth Warren (by 7%), Pete Buttigieg (by 5%), and Cory Booker (by 5%).
In a series of tweets Wednesday, Trump claimed that the “Fake News” was engaging in what he calls “Fake Polling.” He also used the term “Suppression Polls,” which the conservative outlet Breitbart once defined as “a poll deliberately rigged to demoralize Republicans, to convince them to stay home because there is no chance of winning.”
…..The Fake (Corrupt) News Media said they had a leak into polling done by my campaign which, by the way and despite the phony and never ending Witch Hunt, are the best numbers WE have ever had. They reported Fake numbers that they made up & don’t even exist. WE WILL WIN AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2019
Trump has presented no evidence or counter-polling to substantiate his claim that the surveys in question were somehow rigged or manufactured. But that hasn’t stopped him from pushing that claim repeatedly.
The president has drummed up accusations of “suppression polling” in the past. Last November, Trump lodged the same attack against a CNN poll that came out in the week before the midterm elections that showed Democrats with a 13% advantage in the congressional race. It also showed Trump’s approval rating at 39% overall, which CNN described as “the worst pre-election approval rating for any president approaching their first midterm election in polling dating back to Eisenhower.”
“So funny to see the CNN Fake Suppression Polls and false rhetoric,” Trump tweeted at the time. “Don’t fall for the Suppression Game.” The polls conducted shortly before the 2018 midterms turned out to be among the most accurate on record.
The "suppression polls" line is not the President freelancing. A presidential advisor used the same line with me this morning with same phrasing and argument, claiming, without evidence, that CNN & others deliberately got polls wrong to discourage GOP voters.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) November 7, 2018
In August 2017, Trump similarly objected to a Quinnipiac that showed his approval rating at 33%, as well as a Gallup poll that put his approval rating at 36%.
“Don’t believe the Fake News Suppression Polls!” Trump tweeted at the time.
He also retweeted a Twitter profile that previously posted pro-Trump memes but that had rebranded itself as a fake polling outlet. The Twitter “poll” — as opposed to a real poll of likely voters with any statistical validity — asked, “Who is a better President of the United States?” and juxtaposed Trump with Barack Obama.
That “poll” has since been deleted.
(More recently, that Twitter profile has been used to conduct biased polling, using questions like, “Do you support companies like Facebook and Twitter that censor and ban non-democrat voices like Candace Owens?” and “Do you think the Democrats need to tone down their rhetoric against the President of the United States?”)
Shortly after his tweet attacking CNN’s poll in November, Trump added that he intended to crackdown on illegal voting. The conservative myth that there is widespread voter fraud has been used to justify various forms of voter suppression, such as rolling back early voting opportunities and requiring voter ID, and has been widely debunked.