(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Opinion writer

Veteran Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg just released a new national poll that will put Republicans on high (or even higher) alert: It sheds new light on just how awful the gender gap could get if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee.

It also illustrates (again) a host of problems with Trump’s hopes of surfing into the White House on a wave of white working class anger.

The key head-to-head topline of the poll — of 900 likely 2016 voters nationally — is that Hillary Clinton is leading Trump by 53-40. The poll — which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund — shows that engagement in the election is rising substantially among key Democratic voter groups.

These percentages represent those who expressed a high interest in the the 2016 elections. Click to enlarge:


Last November, Greenberg warned that the lack of engagement of Dem voter groups loomed as a big problem for Democrats. Now, however, this new poll shows a big bump in engagement among college educated women, minorities, white unmarried women, and Democrats overall. This would suggest a potential downside with Trump’s apparent strategy of unleashing white (male) backlash: Anything Trump says and does to keep that backlash at fever pitch — like the things he’s been all over the media for lately — risks increasing the engagement of Dem leaning groups.

Hillary Clinton is beating Trump pretty badly among women, the poll finds, and there’s an important nuance to be appreciated here:


The 21-point gender gap is driven by an enormous, 52-point advantage that Clinton enjoys over Trump in particular among unmarried women, a key Dem voting bloc in national elections. “The prospect of a Trump presidency is motivating single women against him, and today we see the largest marriage gap, +55 points, that we’ve ever witnessed in more than a decade of research,” Page Gardner, CEO of Women’s Voices, Women Vote, tells me.

The possibility of a big gender gap is also hinted at by other polling out today: Gallup finds that Trump’s unfavorable rating among women has now risen to 70 percent, and even a very large percentage of Republican women (46 percent) see him unfavorably.

And here’s what’s going on among the white working class voters that Trump appears to hope will deliver him the White House:


Trump is actually performing just below Romney’s 2012 totals among non-college whites. He does get a better margin than Romney among white non-college men, but that’s offset by the fact that he’s running behind Romney’s margin among white non-college women. As this blog has suggested, Trump’s hopes of running up huge margins among blue collar whites might be complicated if he alienates white non-college women.

Meanwhile, as noted above,  engagement is rising substantially among white non-college women (a potential problem for Trump) and among college women (who seem even more likely to be alienated by him), perhaps partly due to the seeming omnipresence of Trump’s sexism. Engagement is also rising substantially among nonwhites (if Trump under-performs among them, he’d have to drive his white vote margins even higher). And nearly half of Republican women (per Gallup) view him unfavorably.

Conservatives who see Trump as a looming disaster agree with all this. As Philip Klein puts it today:

The fantasy among Trump supporters is that he can boost turnout among working class whites enough to tip a few swing states. But even that fantasy hinges on the assumption that Trump will do at least equally well among other groups as previous Republican nominees….

Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. Over time, demographic trends will only become more unfavorable to them. They came into this year with a number of electable candidates to put up against a weak Democratic front-runner. Yet they are poised to lose without making any progress toward rebuilding the party into one that can actually win in the future.

In other words, nominating Trump could mean a big Republican loss and could further set back the party’s image among nonwhites, women, and young voters (whereas nominating, say, Marco Rubio might have begun to repair that image even if he lost). This has long been entirely predictable. Indeed, GOP strategists predicted it (remember that RNC autopsy?). But, as Klein puts it, a “critical mass of their primary electorate” don’t appear to care.