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Joe Biden is succeeding in making the election about Trump

Data: Newswhip; Graphic: Axios Visuals

Even after emerging from his Delaware basement, Joe Biden has consumed less and less of the national conversation while his polling lead over President Trump has swelled, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: Trump's punches aren't landing. Biden is avoiding heightened scrutiny while Trump absorbs the blowback for his responses to national crises.


Flashback: During this period of the campaign in 2016, social media interactions (likes, comments, shares) on stories about Hillary Clinton continued to climb, nearly doubling from April to July — even before the party conventions began. Biden's have plunged.

  • It was also during this time that "Crooked Hillary" saw the most momentum, according to Google Trends data. It peaked in June and saw another spike during the DNC in Philadelphia in late July.

The big picture: The trends speak to Trump's struggles to effectively brand Biden. He has at turns tried to label Biden as corrupt, senile, toothless and a tool for the "radical left".

  • Biden has been able to grow his lead by keeping the focus on Trump — a job made easier by the nationwide surge in coronavirus cases.

By the numbers: Since emerging from his home on Memorial Day for the first time since mid-March, Biden's interactions have continued to drop while his lead in the national polling average has climbed. It jumped from 5.6 points on the holiday to 8.7 points now, per the RealClearPolitics average.

Between the lines: It's not like Biden is becoming more popular. Trump is just becoming less popular.

  • Biden's favorable ratings have held steady at 45% since March, per Quinnipiac polling.
  • Trump's have fallen from 39% to 34% since March.

The bottom line: As long as Trump remains on the defensive — parrying attacks about the health situation, a bleak economy and a backlash against his handling of race relations — the harder it will be for him to get any of his Biden attacks to stick.

Our 2020 attention tracker is based on data from NewsWhip exclusively provided to Axios as part of a project that will regularly update throughout the 2020 campaign.

See all past editions of the tracker here.

Data: Newswhip; Graphic: Axios Visuals — Note: Hover over the graphic on desktop to see weekly articles and interactions for candidates and issues.

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