What the Polls Are Saying, and Will It Matter?

There is more news about Trump’s declining poll numbers; see Wave of New Polling Suggests an Erosion of Trump’s Support by Nate Cohn in the New York Times.

His approval rating has fallen to negative 12.7 percentage points among registered or likely voters, down from negative 6.7 points on April 15, according to FiveThirtyEight estimates. And now a wave of new polls shows Joe Biden with a significant national lead, placing him in a stronger position to oust an incumbent president than any challenger since Bill Clinton in the summer of 1992.

We’ve got a way to go yet. But keep reading the Nate Cohn article —

Over the shorter term, the decline in the president’s standing has been particularly pronounced among white voters without a college degree, helping to explain why the Trump campaign has felt compelled to air advertisements in Ohio and Iowa, two mostly white working-class battleground states where Mr. Trump won by nearly 10 points four years ago.

In the most recent polls, white voters without a college degree back the president by 21 points, down from 31 points in March and April and down from the 29-point lead Mr. Trump held in the final polls of registered voters in 2016.

Mr. Trump didn’t just lose support to the undecided column; Mr. Biden ticked up to an average of 37 percent among white voters without a degree. The figure would be enough to assure Mr. Biden the presidency, given his considerable strength among white college graduates. In the most recent polls, white college graduates back Mr. Biden by a 20-point margin, up four points since the spring. It’s also an eight-point improvement for the Democratic nominee since 2016, and a 26-point improvement since 2012.

Trump is also doing far worse with women voters than he did in 2016, and he’s slightly behind Biden with older voters. I’m not sure if there is a demographic in the country in which Trump support is holding steady, actually.

There’s also a new podcast at FiveThirtyEight about the erosion of Trump’s support, which I am listening to as I keyboard. People are not impressed by Trump’s handling of either the protests or the pandemic. However, the statistics nerds remind us, Biden’s advantage in national polls won’t necessarily translate into a win in the Electoral College, especially if the gap between Biden and Trump is only four or five percentage points.

Greg Sargent proposes that these numbers are showing us a big cultural shift in white America.

One possible reason for all this can be found in the new Post/Schar School poll: There is a very large shift underway in how white voters view the issues underlying the protests.

Only 35 percent of Americans overall approve of Trump’s handling of the protests, the Post poll finds. Meanwhile, 74 percent support the protests and 69 percent say the killing of George Floyd shows broader problems in how police treat black Americans.

But note these findings among whites: Only 39 percent of them approve of Trump’s approach, while 57 percent disapprove; 69 percent of them support the protests; and 68 percent of them say Floyd’s death reveals systemic police mistreatment of blacks.

In these cases, there’s not a big difference along educational lines: Strikingly, a bare majority of non-college whites disapproves of Trump’s handling of the protests. And large majorities of both non-college and college-educated whites support the protests and say Floyd’s killing shows broader problems in the police treatment of black Americans.

Also striking: The 69 percent of Americans who believe the killing represents broader systemic problems represent a 26-point shift since 2014, when only 43 percent said the same on a comparable question.

The many videos of police brutality and murders probably are playing a part in this shift, but I doubt that’s the only factor at work. It may be that working class whites are finally getting a clue that the system doesn’t work for them, either, and that’s not because of nonwhites. or immigrants, or any other oppressed and marginalized group.

And then there’s the person of Trump himself, who can’t even fake being a decent human being for ten minutes straight. It may be that a lot of people are just now realizing what a colossal asshole Trump really is. The real Trump is not the guy from The Apprentice they thought they were voting for.  For example:

As Jeff Tiedrich of Smirking Chimp commented, “I have to confess I did not have ‘That 75 year old guy faked his own bleeding head trauma’ on my Donald Trump Batshittery Bingo card.” The gentleman who was pushed is still hospitalized, btw.  Politico reports that the tweet made some Republicans “cringe.” But the only way they’ll get Trump to be less of an asshole is if they lock him in the bunker and cut off his Internet access. That’s who he is. He can’t be otherwise.

And this takes us to the fortunes of other Republicans on the ballot with him. Paul Waldman:

Right now, Trump surely knows he’s in trouble, but he doesn’t seem to have much in the way of answers. Instead, he’s doing what he has always done: trying to create conflict and division, sending dozens or even hundreds of tweets a day, hoping that schoolyard nicknames, juvenile insults and fearmongering will ensure his success.

So far it’s not working. Republicans afraid he’ll drag them down may hope that he can pull off another unexpected victory. But even they may now realize that his shocking 2016 win was mostly a spectacular coincidence of circumstances. Yes, he realized when other Republican politicians didn’t (or couldn’t) that there was an appetite within his party for naked bigotry and xenophobia. But it’s not as though Trump planned to have then-FBI Director James B. Comey cast suspicion on Hillary Clinton 11 days before the election.

Trump’s allies are trying to create a repeat of those events by launching investigations of Biden in the desperate hope that they can uncover something damaging. But at the moment, that too looks ineffectual. Which means they’ll have to rely on Trump to come up with some way to turn things around.

It may be, the FiveThirtyEight nerds say, that losing faith in Trump will not translate into votes for Biden. But it may mean that a lot of one-time Trump voters will just stay home in November. And that would be a disaster for Republicans in other elections. Heh.

As I said yesterday, we’re at the mercy of events now. Trump isn’t going to change tactics — I understand he’s even pushing to restart his big rallies soon — so it will take an event I can’t imagine to pump his numbers up again. But a lot happens I didn’t imagine before it happened. And then there’s the possibility that the election itself will be such a mess that there’s no clear winner, and of course our courts are now stuffed with Federalist Society hacks, courtesy of Mitch McConnell.

If this were a novel, I’d be skipping to the ending already.

Stuff to Read

Do read American Psycho (“Jared Kushner—climber, sycophant, snob—is the perfect avatar of elite incompetence for our times.”) by David Roth at New Republic. Absolutely delicious snark.

Pair the David Roth piece with Ivanka Trump’s Vicious Behind-the-Scene Power Plays by Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly.

Why Is Trump’s Campaign Buying Ads in Markets He Has No Chance of Winning? by Martin Longman. Basically, the Trump campaign is running ads in DC so that Trump will see them when he watches television and be happy. Seriously.

NPR, No Sign Of Antifa So Far In Justice Department Cases Brought Over Unrest. Do tell.

75 year old Martin Gugino, after being shoved by police.