News and Commentary

POLL: Trump ‘Losing Ground’ With Key 2016 Voters
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 05: U.S. President Donald Trump conducts a bill singing ceremony with members of his economic team in the Rose Garden at the White House June 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. In the midst of nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd, the U.S. Labor Department announced the unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, a surprising improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released Sunday, has some tough news for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign: a decline in support among voters who made up the key coalitions responsible for electing Trump to office in 2016.

The NBC News poll shows Trump around 7 points behind former Vice President Joe Biden nationally, but the national polls are largely deceptive; the presidential campaign is a state-by-state contest, not a national popularity contest, and the 2020 campaign has yet to start in earnest, leaving most current polling a referendum on Trump’s performance in office.

But, given that the poll is likely a referendum on Trump’s ability to handle major incidents as president, the NBC News poll has some rough news for the president: key demographics are finding themselves questioning the president’s ability in larger numbers, leaving the 7-point spread more worrisome than in other polls.

For starters, voters without a college education, who went for Trump in large numbers in 2016 — many resolving to vote after being included in Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” — are less enthusiastic about Trump this time around.

“]T]his week’s poll finds him leading among those without a [college] degree by only about 3 points, while he is losing voters with a degree by 24 points. That’s a massive edge for Biden among voters with a degree and a much smaller edge for Trump among voters that are a big part of his base,” NBC News reported.

Trump’s “edge” with male voters is also declining.  In 2016, Trump had a double-digit lead over Clinton among men, but this time around, “his edge with men has eroded to about 8 points, and his deficit with women has exploded to 21 points.”

“That’s a gender split that basically makes it impossible for Trump to win the popular vote. Women tend to make up more of the electorate than men,” NBC News says.

The most concerning number, though, is Trump’s performance among white voters, which is also declining.

“In 2016,” the poll report notes, “Trump won white, non-Hispanic voters by 21 points. It made up for the huge losses he faced with communities of color. In the new poll, Trump does better with African American and Hispanic voters than he did in 2016, though he still isn’t close to winning those groups. But his edge with white voters is down to just 6 points — 49 percent to 43 percent for Biden — and white voters still make up the overwhelming majority of the electorate.”

The number also indicates that Biden is edging into the coalition that former president Barack Obama put together for his election and re-election campaigns in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Although Hillary Clinton drew from traditional Democratic voters across the board, she notably failed to drive Obama voters — non-traditional Democratic voters and other first-time voters — to the polls, leaving her struggling.

Trump, obviously, has plenty of time to make up the difference, and some of the declines could be tied to current events, giving the White House the summer to improve its standing.

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