What Trump’s awful poll numbers tell us about the general election

A Post-ABC News poll has Donald Trump losing by 12 points. Trump was up 2 points in May’s poll. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll has him trailing by 5 points, down from 3 points in the previous survey taken in May. Overall, Hillary Clinton’s RealClearPolitics average lead over Trump is 6.7 points.

It is not hard to see why Trump is crashing. The Post reports:

Roughly 2 in 3 Americans say that they think Trump is unqualified to lead the nation; are anxious about the idea of him as president; believe his comments about women, minorities and Muslims show an unfair bias; and consider his attacks on a federal judge because of his Mexican American heritage to be racist. . . .

Fifty-six percent of the public at large say the celebrity business mogul stands against their beliefs, while 64 percent say he does not have the necessary credentials to be president. Fifty-six percent feel strongly that he is unqualified.

Nearly one-third of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say Trump is unqualified for office, and 18 percent say he does not represent their beliefs, exposing fissures in the GOP base.

Trump only has 77 percent of Republicans behind him in the Post-ABC News poll. He is losing women by 23 points. He is losing among nonwhites by a 77 percent to 15 percent margin. He’ll need to do extraordinarily well with men, but right now he is dead even (45/45 percent) with Clinton. He leads white voters by only 10 points. Even among voters with no college degree, Clinton leads by 8 points. (Those with a college degree support Clinton by 20 points.) Other polls show that Trump is bombing with significant sections of the electorate. The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows: “Clinton leads Trump among African Americans (87 percent to 5 percent), Latinos (69 percent to 22 percent), those ages 18-34 (53 percent to 30 percent), women (52 percent to 35 percent).”

In short, Trump is doing much worse with groups Mitt Romney won overwhelmingly — e.g., Republicans, men, white voters. (Romney won them by93, 7 and 20 percent, respectively.) As for groups Romney lost, Trump is losing by a bigger margin (e.g. Romney lost among women by “only” 11 points).

Trump has been trying to answer criticisms against him by making hyperbolic allegations against Clinton. However, it seems voters already know Clinton’s weaknesses but consider her the lesser of two evils — by a lot. For example, 56 percent disapprove of her handling of her emails, but when stacked up against Trump’s faults (racism, unqualified, lacks temperament, doesn’t share values), voters seem to be deciding that they will take Clinton, warts and all.

It is not clear that Trump can change his image. He shows no inclination to brush up on the issues, which would at least give the appearance of being qualified. His plethora of racist, misogynistic and cruel comments are not going to disappear; the bell cannot be unrung. Most interesting is that voters have figured out that he’s not standing up for their beliefs. This was the key to his success in the primaries — siding with disaffected losers in the global economy against elites. Among Republicans 78 percent feel that way, but in the general election they are swamped by Democrats and independents who overwhelmingly think that he is not sticking up for them.

These findings suggest several things. First, members of the GOP electorate did a horrible job of finding an electable candidate. Perhaps that is because they are out of touch with other Americans, or perhaps they were duped by Trump. Second, this might not be the nadir of Trump’s campaign. Remember that he has practically no money and Clinton has plenty of cash on hand for ads. Once she dominates the airwaves, his numbers may decline further. Third, Trump is getting just 6 percent of Democrats; he gets 1 percent of liberal Democrats (which is within the margin of error, so he may be getting zero support). His plea to win over Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) supporters, in other words, is falling on deaf ears. Fourth, Republican voters seem more tolerant than one would expect of GOP pols who speak out against Trump. Fifty-eight percent want them to speak up, while only 38 percent want them to keep quiet. Maybe politicians afraid to speak up are underestimating their fellow Republicans. There’s less risk in condemning Trump than they might think.
Does all of this increase the chances of a delegate revolt in Cleveland? Perhaps, especially if Trump’s gaffe-a-minute problem, lack of fundraising and attacks on Republicans continue. On the other hand, #NeverTrump voters should be more confident than ever: It’s becoming highly unlikely that he will win the presidency. In fact, he could well get drubbed, discrediting his brand of populism and his apologists.

The bad news, of course, for Republicans is that Clinton will be president and Democrats likely will have a majority in one or both houses of Congress. Ah, well, they can take it up with the GOP primary voters. Alternatively, they might put a fork in the GOP, declare it kaput and organize a new party that does not flock to know-nothing bigots.


What Trump’s awful poll numbers tell us about the general election