Poll Numbers For Trump Historically Bad
Dan McLaughlin is correct when he points out how national poll numbers remain a less-than-ideal way to measure the presidential horserace, but are often the quickest way to assess where today’s race stands compared to campaigns of the past. Looking at where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stand right now to the past 3 national campaigns reveals what I have thought this entire time. Trump as the GOP nominee will result in a landslide for Hillary.
Trump’s Poll Numbers
Trump now stands at 38.6% in the RealClearPolitics national poll average; that’s down almost five points in three weeks, but Trump has never polled above 44.3% in the average, which he hit on December 5, 2015. His low was 33.7% on July 1, 2015, when he was just getting started. Hillary Clinton is at 44.1%, but has never been below 43.2%, where she was when Trump nosed ahead of her momentarily on May 23, 2016, while he was enjoying his “bounce” in the period between Trump clinching the delegates for the GOP nomination and Hillary clinching for the Democrats.
Presumptive Nominee Polling Below 40%?
In the last three elections, this was unheard-of in the polling average, and rare even in individual polls. Mitt Romney in 2012 never polled below 41.5%, which is where he entered the race on February 3, 2011; his low during 2012 was 43.0% on August 12, 2012.
John McCain in 2008 hit a low of 38.3% on October 26, 2007, but cleared 40% after November 15, 2007 and never fell back below it, bottoming out in 2008 at 40.3% on June 29, 2008. That was right around the time Barack Obama consolidated power within the Democratic Party by dispatching Hillary.
George W. Bush in 2004 never polled below 42.7% which happened on July 19. This was right on the eve of the Democratic Convention.
What About Democrats?
Obama in 2012 hit his low point of 45.4% on May 28. Like Bush, he benefited from running as an incumbent.
Obama in 2008, the last successful non-incumbent, never polled below 43.2%. It happened on January 31 during the heat of the Democratic primaries.
John Kerry’s poll numbers bottomed out at 42.0% on April 27, 2004. This was just before the Abu Ghraib story pulled Bush down from a persistent spring lead.
Below 40% In Individual Polls?
Trump has polled below 40% in 25 of 83 individual polls (30.1%); 15 of 45 (33.3%) in 2016, and 10 of 38 (26.3%) in 2015. By contrast, Hillary has polled below 40% in 5 of 83 individual polls (6.0%); 4 of 45 (8.9%) in 2016, and 1 of 38 (2.6%) in 2015.
Mitt Romney polled below 40% in 15 of 326 individual polls (4.6%); 4 of 202 (2.0%) in 2012, and 11 of 124 (8.9%) in 2011. Barack Obama’s poll numbers never dropped below 40% individually in 2012.
John McCain polled below 40% in 32 of 319 individual polls (10.0%); 21 of 264 (8.0%) in 2008, and 11 of 55 (20.0%) in 2007. Barack Obama polled below 40% in 6 of 319 individual polls (1.9%); 0 of 264 (0%) in 2008, and 6 of 55 (10.9%) in 2007.
George W. Bush polled below 40% in 1 poll in 2004. John Kerry polled below 40% in 3 polls.
The frequency of national polling has risen dramatically from 2004 to 2012. It has fallen off a lot this year, even though the general election race has really just started. Trump’s national polling reveals that he is at a lower ebb than any general election candidate has hit in the last three elections, and has been for most of the time since last summer. Even if we assume that Trump’s ceiling in the polls is higher than his sky-high unfavorables would suggest (as was the case in the primaries), his floor is the lowest of any recent nominee.
Finally, in the latest ABC/WaPo Poll Trump’s unfavorables have gone to 70%. Trump’s net favorable rating (favorable minus unfavorable) among non-college whites has flipped from a plus-14 in May to slightly negative minus-7. Among independents, Trump’s net rating has shifted from from -19 last month to -38 in the latest survey, returning him to roughly the same standing as in April (-37).
Trump continues to be deeply unpopular with Hispanics, with 89 percent saying they have an unfavorable view of him, his highest mark in Post-ABC polling this campaign. Three-quarters of Hispanics see Trump in a “strongly unfavorable” light (76 percent), similar to 78 percent last month. While 62 percent of men disapprove of Trump, 77 percent of women view him unfavorably, a new high.
Further, in the latest Bloomberg Politics Poll, 55% say they will never vote for Trump, and 63% of women say they will never vote for Trump. Trump is to be taken seriously for how dangerous his rhetoric is, but not because he is a legitimate presidential candidate. General elections are not Republican primaries, and his poll numbers that embolden and cement his supporters there seem not to be popular with the public at large.