Two states very much worth watching as signs for the Trump-pocalypse are Virginia and Colorado. They both represent, in somewhat different ways, the demographic challenges that Republicans face in national elections these days — challenges that Trump is making a whole lot worse.
A new batch of Quinnipiac polls neatly illustrates the dynamic. They find that Hillary Clinton is leading Trump among likely voters in Virginia by 50-38, and leading in Colorado by 49-39. In Iowa, a less diverse Midwestern state, it’s much closer, with Clinton ahead by 47-44.
But it’s the numbers among key demographics that are really striking. In both Virginia and Colorado, Clinton holds huge leads over Trump among women and college educated whites. Notably, in both states, more than sixty percent of both these voter groups have strongly unfavorable views of Trump. Not just unfavorable views of Trump. Strongly unfavorable views of him.
Clinton leads among women by 56-31, and among college educated whites by 54-36. (By contrast, Trump leads by 46-42 among men and by 59-30 among non-college whites).
Among women, 60 percent have a strongly unfavorable view of Trump, and among college educated whites, 62 percent have a have a strongly unfavorable view of him.
Clinton also picks up the support of 13 percent of Republicans.
Clinton leads among women by 53-34, and among college educated whites by 58-33. (By contrast, Clinton only leads among men by 45-43, and Trump leads among non-college whites by 49-32.)
Among women, 64 percent have a strongly unfavorable view of Trump, and among college educated whites, 64 percent have a strongly unfavorable view of him.
Virginia is a New South state where the growth of the college-educated white population in the northern suburbs and exurbs of D.C., and the growth of the nonwhite population, are slowly edging it into the Blue column. In Colorado, the growth of the Latino population is already making it challenging for Republicans.
In both of these states, Trump’s struggles with these key demographics are making the demographic difficulties Republicans face even tougher. They render Trump’s hopes of winning by unleashing fearsome white backlash a long shot. What’s more, if Clinton can put those states away, it puts still more pressure on Trump to win in improbable fashion by holding all the Romney 2012 states while pulling off an unlikely run-of-the-table in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Peter Brown, the assistant polling director for Quinnipiac, tells me that Quinnipiac polling only a few weeks ago generally showed Trump doing reasonably well with women and college educated whites, or at least well enough to keep the race very close. (Remember, Quinnipiac polls are sometimes said to have a slight GOP lean, and some of them showed Trump very competitive at the time.)
But now, Brown adds, “he’s not doing well among the same types of voters that he was doing fine with around the Republican convention.”
All this hints at deeper changes that Trump may be exacerbating.
“If you take the big picture, Virginia and Colorado were solidly red states 15 years ago,” Brown says. But now, he adds, both of these states represent “a much larger swath of the electorate.” Result: In both these once-red states, Trump trails by double digits.
Trump’s horrific struggles among college educated whites and women in these states, Brown says, are “emblematic” of these larger changes.
Those struggles also illustrate just how badly Trump’s convention failed at expanding his appeal — and how much damage the Dem convention may have done to him, particularly after he helped amplify all of the messages coming out of it by picking a protracted fight with the Khan family.
And in a sense, it really tells the whole story of this race that at the very moment when demographically changing states such as Virginia and Colorado are slipping away, he’s reshuffling his campaign in a way that goes all in on the angry ethno-nationalism that is alienating the very voter groups he needs to prevent that from happening.