As Kerry Eleveld covered just a short while ago, bunker-cowering president Donald Trump’s job approval numbers in a new CNN/SSRS poll have utterly collapsed—down to 38% approve, 57% disapprove. The poll has presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden ahead by a gaudy 55-41 that, if accurate, would have Biden approaching the 400 electoral vote mark.
The daily 50-state tracking poll at Civiqs is showing similar movement. Let me walk you through why Trump’s polling collapse is so significant and why if current trends continue, that 400 EV mark is actually within reach.
To start with, no one is counting any chickens before they hatch. This is a hard race, and things will get uglier the closer we get to Election Day. We have to fight harder than we’ve ever fought. That said, it also makes no sense to fear reality. Yes, 2016 hurt—no one wants a repeat. But this isn’t 2016. Not even close.
Trump has lost a net six points of support since the coronavirus pandemic hit our shores.
That -16 net approval matches the worst of his presidency, which he hit twice before—both times during efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act. That means that Trump is now underwater not only in every battleground state, but also in edge states Alaska, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas.
Fueling this collapse: white and elderly voters. Trump went from a net +11 approval rating among whites after the nation’s brief rally-around-Trump effect when the pandemic first hit, to -2 today.
That’s a 49-47 approval number, so yes, he’s still above water by a hair—but keep in mind that Trump won white voters by a 57-37 margin in 2016. That’s a lot of slippage among his must-win demographic.
Driving that collapse, Trump is on the wrong side of the nation’s two current crises. White support has moved dramatically in favor of Black Lives Matter compared to Charlottesville in August of 2017.
During Charlottesville, only 28% of white people supported Black Lives Matter. That number is now 44%. That’s a net shift from -23 to +14, or a whopping net-37 points in favor of the movement. Only 30% of whites now oppose it. And yet Trump has positioned himself with that rump 30% of deplorables—as usual, as always. He is utterly incapable of reading the room.
Meanwhile I know people are forgetting it, but we still have about 1,000 people dying every single day from the coronavirus. That’s a 9/11’s worth of deaths every three days! And it may not be getting a lot of play, but disapproval in Trump’s handling of the pandemic is still growing.
That -23 net approval is Trump’s all-time worst coronavirus rating, and even among whites, he’s at -9 (also an all-time low).
So he’s lost voters on the virus. He’s certainly on the wrong side of them on Black Lives Matter. Is it any wonder his approval ratings are finally tanking?
Now this is why it matters. This is a very real dynamic:
Along these lines worth noting that in 12 exit polls Obama lost strong disapprovers 96-1 & in 04 exits, W. Bush lost them 97-2. In ANES studies, Clinton won 2% of them in 96 & HW Bush 5% in 1992. Incumbents win some "somewhat" disapprovers-but not many strong disapprovers. https://t.co/tyl5a0RdJL
— Ronald Brownstein (@RonBrownstein) June 7, 2020
The vast majority of people who disapprove of Trump really disapprove of him. That means that there is strong correlation between Trump’s approval ratings and his share of the Biden versus Trump vote. Take a look at Civiqs’ recent public state-level polling:
|State||Trump favorables||Trump v Biden|
This feels a little like burying the lede, so I’ll write this up again really stressing this point, but as you can see, Trump’s share of the vote in the head-to-head is tightly correlated with how people rate him personally. (There is little deviation from “favorability” and “job approval.”)
So let’s go back to that 50-state map of Trump’s job approvals:
You see it, right? Every state bathed in orange is a state that Donald Trump has a real chance of losing. Here are his approvals in chart format:
The starred states are the “reach” states. Well, Ohio is not a reach state anymore. It’s a legit (Trump-leaning) battleground state. Civiqs has a poll in the field in Iowa right now, so it might graduate to battleground status as well. We’ll know by tomorrow or Wednesday.
Alaska and Texas are still tough. Trump is likely around 47%-48% of the two-person vote in both states. But trends matter:
That’s why Trump’s falling numbers matter: They are making battleground states safer for Biden. They have made former battleground states like Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire safe blue states (you don’t hear about Trump contesting them anymore). And they are shifting the battleground states deeper into Trump territory. Why are we even mentioning Alaska in terms of presidential politics, anyway?
All the usual caveats apply, of course. Given these are recent defectors away from Trump, they are also the most likely to snap back. Maybe. Who knows. But the possibility is certainly still there.
Nothing is etched in stone. But at least for now, Trump is getting punished for his rank incompetence and utter lack of real leadership skills. Our job? We see him drowning. Now let’s throw him some anchors. Lots of anchors.