- New polling shows President Donald Trump sinking into a deeper hole in key states.
- The coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests were already coinciding with the erosion of his electoral college firewall, but the latest batch of New York Times/Siena college polls paint an even more dire picture.
- Trump is down 14% nationally to former Vice President Joe Bide, and is facing significant deficits in crucial electoral college states.
- Among white voters – even those without a college degree – Trump is slipping to Biden, putting his reelection prospects in further jeopardy.
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President Donald Trump’s campaign for re-election is in a precarious position, as the recent polling data shows him behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden by double-digits nationally and in key swing states, and losing ground among crucial demographic groups.
The Times and Siena polls, which have an A+ rating for accuracy in FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings, surveyed registered voters on who they would vote for between Trump and Biden both nationwide and in six key battleground states.
On Wednesday, The Times and Siena’s national poll showed Trump down by 14 percentage points nationally, 36% to 50%, in line with other major national polls.
Of course, Americans don’t vote for president in a popular vote election, and in 2016, Trump won the electoral college despite losing the popular vote.
In 2016, the dynamics of the electoral college worked in Trump’s favour when he swept Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin’s electoral college votes, despite winning each state by a margin of less than one percentage point.
But both the latest round of Times/Siena polls and FiveThirtyEight’s polling averages show flashing warning signs for Trump.
Trump is getting poor marks for his handling of major national crises that could still be relevant when Americans start to vote:
The Times and Siena found that Trump’s marked decline in key battleground states compared to last October can be largely attributed to voters disapproving of how Trump has approached the COVID-19 pandemic and protests over police brutality and racism.
Among a sample of 3,870 registered voters in the six battleground states, 42% approve of Trump’s job performance while 54% disapprove.
On specific issues, 56% of voters approved of Trump’s handling of the economy, but just 41%approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic,40% approved of his handling of criminal justice policy, 34% approve of his handling of race relations, and 31% approved of his response to the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd.
Trump is behind in six key battleground states he carried in 2016, and could be bringing the GOP’s Senate majority down with him:
- In Michigan, The Times and Siena found Biden leading Trump by 11 points, 47% to 36%. Trump carried the state by 0.3 percentage points in 2016.
- In Wisconsin, the poll found Biden leading Trump by 11 points, 49% to 38%. Trump carried Wisconsin by 0.7 percentage points in 2016.
- In Pennsylvania, the poll found Biden leading Trump by 10 points, 50% to 40%.Trump carried Pennsylvania by 0.7 percentage points in 2016.
- In North Carolina, the poll found Biden leading Trump by nine points, 49% to 40%.Trump carried North Carolina 3.6 percentage points in 2016.
- In Florida, the poll found Biden leading Trump by six points, 47% to 41%. Trump carried Florida by 1.2 percentage points in 2016.
- In Arizona, the poll found Biden leading Trump by seven points, 48% to 41%. Trump won Arizona by 3.5 percentage points in 2016.
In 2016, rates of voters splitting their tickets between candidates of different parties fell to its lowest levels in decades. In every state with a US Senate race that Trump won, the Republican candidate also won.
Now, Trump’s poor performance in swing states could also be a drag on Republican US Senate candidates running in those states and ultimately threaten the GOP’s Senate majority.
The Times and Siena found that in Arizona, Democratic Senate candidate leads GOP Sen. Martha McSally by nine points, 47% to 38%. In Michigan, Democratic Sen. Gary Peters is leading Republican candidate by 10 percentage points, 41% to 31%. And in North Carolina, Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham is leading incumbent GOP Sen. Thom Tillis by three points, 42% to 39%.
Trump is also faring poorly among key demographics:
The Times and Siena’s polling found that Trump is not only behind in battleground states more generally, but especially among key demographic groups that he carried in 2016.
This pattern was already being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, putting Trump’s electoral college firewall in jeopardy in recent weeks.
Trump is in a worse position with major voting blocks compared to a series of national and battleground state surveys The Times and Siena conducted in October 2019.
- Among men overall, Trump only leads Biden by 2%, an 8% slide from October 2019.
- Trump’s polling with women voters has gone from bad to worse, with the president now trailing Biden by 19% compared to a 13% margin in October 2019.
- White voters overall have tilted closer to Biden, with Trump hanging on to a 4% lead, down 8% from the survey last year.
- Most importantly, Trump’s base of white voters without a college degree has fallen to a 16% advantage over Biden, down from a more commanding 24% lead last year.
“Trump’s once-commanding advantage among white voters has nearly vanished,” The Times said, “a development that would all but preclude the president’s re-election.”
In 2016, Trump’s margin among white voters without a college degree was the largest seen in exit polls since 1980. Trump won 67% of those voters compared to just 28% for Hillary Clinton.
Trump slipping this much among whites without a college degree could be put the president in an untenable position.
The state by state breakdown in the NYT-Siena poll bears this out, putting Trump in a hole among the most consequential group for his reelection.
But, as The Times noted, the landscape could shift back in Trump’s favour over the summer, especially given that voters still continue to give Trump strong marks on the economy at 56% overall approval.
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