Trump’s white backlash is still not here, but even if it arrived, it wouldn’t save him

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Donald Trump is a president trapped by his idiocy and incompetence. His entire plan was to coast to reelection on the same kind of blind luck that got him the job in the first place—mainly, this time, an economy doing its own thing. But then a crisis happened, and a second one, and we’re at 120,000 deaths (and counting), and racial tensions are sweeping the country, and the best the idiot can do is rant in a half-empty stadium in deep-red country about how slippery a 3% ramp was and how great it is that he can drink water with one hand. That’s his message. He can too walk down a ramp—if only it had a hand railing—and he’s masterful at drinking water.

Well, that’s not 100% true. He’ll interrupt his regularly scheduled whines and airing of grievances for one other topic, an attempt at something of a message; something about “LAW AND ORDER!” in an attempt to capitulate to the backlash to the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation. Unfortunately for him, we’re still not seeing any evidence of a white backlash. And given his deep polling deficit, there’s no chance of a Trump comeback without one.

Trump won white people by a solid 20 points in 2016: 57-37. Yet his approval rating from this group per Civiqs daily tracking poll is just 50-46. That’s a disastrous net 16-point drop, a collapse in his core support he can ill afford in what was already the thinnest of victory margins in 2016. It’s a collapse that began with Trump’s coronavirus response and has ticked down even further since the start of the recent waves of protests.

What we can see here is not only that Trump has suffered recent losses, but, just as importantly, he’s not rebounding. That white backlash? It hasn’t happened, at least not yet.

Let’s compare 2016 exit polls to his current status according to Civiqs:

Trump net approval 2016 exit polls Current Civiqs Difference
white +20 +5 -15
Non-College white +37 +12 -25
white 65+ +48 +20 -28
Independents +4 -15 -19

Those are stunning drops in support. Of course, this isn’t an apples to apples comparison—it’s comparing one poll to another. But it does explain why Trump is objectively in such trouble with such terrible approval numbers. And not just nationally, which really doesn’t matter much, but in the nine battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Here, see for yourself:

Heck, the way things are going in Alaska, Montana, and Texas, this election is threatening to get even more interesting!

Driving Trump’s terrible numbers is still, first and foremost, his woeful non-handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He and his administration may be pretending the pandemic is over and the continued mass daily deaths don’t matter, but the public just isn’t buying it:

And, once again, the numbers aren’t just terrible nationwide—they’re terrible in those nine battlegrounds.

We can rest assured that Trump doesn’t have to worry about Alabama, West Virginia, and Wyoming. But that’s not a picture of success and competence. In fact, the only battleground state in which Trump has a better than a minus-20 rating is Georgia, at minus 17.

Meanwhile, there might be some movement away from Black Lives Matter support among white people:

The “supports” are down from 44% to 43% and the opposed are up from 33% to 36%, seemingly pulling from the “neither support nor oppose” crowd, which is down from 21% to 19%. The movement is slight, so we’ll have to wait and see whether it’s statistical float or the beginning of a snap back.

So to summarize, among Trump’s core white base:

  • Trump’s numbers are crap and stable
  • Trump’s ratings on the coronavirus pandemic are crap and stable
  • White sentiment is (maybe) souring a tad on Black Lives Matter

What does that mean? It means that Trump’s personal ratings aren’t tied to Black Lives Matter, but instead are being driven more heavily by the pandemic. So even if white people get tired of Black people demanding equal treatment under the law, it doesn’t mean that Trump would benefit. 

Or put another way, Trump’s attempt to make this election about “law and order” doesn’t address the biggest reason his numbers are crap: the fact that too many people are dying from disease.

In fact, the comically terrible attendance rate at his rally this Saturday supports this theory—even his strongest supporters decided they’d rather stay home rather than risk infection, disease, and death.

In any case, it’s not even as if Trump can stay on message long enough to have a message. So even if “LAW AND ORDER!” was a good message, forget about him sticking to it. Those who were deplorable enough to actually attend his rally on Saturday may have been stupid enough to cheer him drinking a glass of water, but that’s not the kind of message (ha ha) that wins elections.

Keeping grandma alive might, but he’s got zero interest in that.

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