I definitely wasn’t cherry-picking any polls; in fact I tried to be careful to link only to numbers showing long-term trends. The biggest trend I notice is that virtually no voters are changing their minds about Trump. If an impeachment trial doesn’t change anyone’s mind, there’s almost nothing else that could. So it’s probably going to depend more on turnout than anything else. If that’s the case, then Trump does have at least a decent chance to win, despite my exaggerations in the article. Anything could happen with turnout, as we saw in 2016.
But given that negative partisanship is playing such a huge role in our national politics now, it does stand to reason that for Republicans, Pence would be a better choice than Trump, no matter what. Trump will definitely draw out more Democratic voters to the polls than Pence ever could. Democrats don’t hate Pence as much as Trump, except maybe for a few abortion rights activists. They would not feel the same sense of urgency about defeating Pence. And that’s even more true for independents and low-info voters. So if McConnell wanted to depress the national Democratic turnout, his smartest move would have been to replace Trump with Pence.