Battleground and swing states will save the GOP, its PACs, and the Russians much in the way of 2020 campaign costs, if FiveThirtyEight is correct about approval polling using Morning Consult data.
There’s some correlation between Trump’s popularity and partisanship with enough room for popularity slippage to make Trump still competitive in 2020.
52% of current voters who claim that they will not vote for Trump in 2020 won’t make any difference if they don’t show up to the polls and live in the wrong places. And then there’s the race/class/gender/age differentials that will make the conflicts much clearer.
Is it an auspicious sign for Trump that he isn’t more unpopular in New Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, given his unpopularity nationwide.”
Trump’s low approval ratings nationally aren’t as bad a sign for him as they might appear. If Trump is disproportionately unpopular in safely Republican states but his popularity roughly matches partisanship in swing states, his low national ratings shouldn’t have much of an impact on the Electoral College.
At the present moment, Trump is in a worse position than a typical Republican president would be in Wisconsin, Texas, and Iowa. The problem is that much of the data is becoming inelastic.
In the spirit of my “Popularity Above Replacement” series, in which I’ve looked at how popular governors and senators were relative to the partisanship of their states, I wanted to see what Trump’s state-by-state approval ratings tell us beyond mere partisanship. To find out, I looked at the difference between Trump’s net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating) in a given state according to Morning Consult’s latest polling and that state’s partisan lean (how much more Republican- or Democratic-leaning it is than the country as a whole).1 The result is Trump’s “Popularity Above Replacement President,” or PARP, score for each state.
There are six states where Trump’s net approval rating is higher than it “should” be based on partisan lean, from Rhode Island (+4) in the top spot to Alabama, where his PARP is barely positive (+0.2).
Rhode Island -22 D+26 +4 Mississippi +19 R+15 +4 Louisiana +20 R+17 +3 Hawaii -34 D+36 +2 Massachusetts -28 D+29 +1 Alabama +27 R+27 0
The state where Trump is most underperforming partisan lean is North Dakota — it is 33 points more Republican-leaning than the nation, but Trump’s approval rating there in April was only 6 points higher than his disapproval rating.
South Dakota +10 R+31 -21 New Hampshire -19 R+2 -21 Kansas +2 R+23 -21 Oklahoma +11 R+34 -23 Utah +5 R+31 -26 North Dakota +6 R+33 -27