Fox News reports Michael Dukakis, the former Democratic Massachusetts governor who lost his 1988 White House bid to then-Vice President George H. W. Bush, is warning Joe Biden not to take polls showing him with a double-digit lead over President Trump too seriously.
A recent Fox News poll has Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leading Trump 50-38 nationally as concerns grow over the coronavirus pandemic, racism and unemployment. He also leads Trump by 8.8 percentage points in an average of the latest national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.
By comparison, in late July 1988, a Newsweek/Gallup poll showed Dukakis with a 55-38 lead over Bush, according to The Boston Globe.
“Particularly this year, [polls] should be studied cautiously,” Dukakis told the Globe. “Biden can and should win, but being at 50, no matter how weak your opponent is, is no guarantee of success.”
Dukakis’ numbers took a nosedive following a series of public relations gaffes, as well as what was regarded as a dispassionate performance in the second debate between himself and Bush. At one point, CNN anchor Bernard Shaw asked Dukakis if he would support the death penalty if his wife were raped and murdered.
Dukakis said “no,” citing his belief that capital punishment isn’t a deterrent to crime. Many saw his answer as cold.
“It was a question about Dukakis’s values and emotions,” his campaign director, Susan Estrich, later recalled, according to Politico. “When he answered by talking policy, I knew we lost the election.”
Dukakis’ numbers further declined following a Bush campaign attack ad that featured Willie Horton, a black man who raped and killed a white woman and stabbed her fiance in a 1987 home invasion in Maryland. Horton had escaped from a weekend furlough at a Massachusetts prison when the killing occurred.
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