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Opinion Trump’s biggest problems for 2020: Joe Biden and women

Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden with supporters at an event in Pittsburgh on April 29. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Considering the economy and voters’ positive perception of the economy, virtually any other incumbent president would be a lock for reelection. But President Trump still looks exceptionally vulnerable, particularly if former vice president Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee — and if women turn out in big numbers. Indeed, the latter may be the ones to put a stake through Trump’s presidency.

According to the latest Fox News poll, Biden is running away with the nomination with 35 percent (up 4 percentage points from the previous poll), with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a distant second place at 17 percent, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) at 9 percent. This is roughly consistent with the RealClearPolitics average that has Biden (39.1 percent), Sanders (16.4) and Warren (8.4). Warren seems on the verge of creating her own “tier," leaving behind candidates such as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former representative Beto O’Rourke in the low-to-mid single digits. (O’Rourke is at 4 percent in both Fox News poll and the RCP average, and with his reboot this week devolving into an “apology tour,” his prospects look poor.)

All of this should worry the president, since the Fox News poll finds that Biden would trounce Trump in a general election, 49 percent to 38 percent. Sanders has only a 5 point lead, which is close to being within the margin of error. Interestingly, in none of the head-to-head match-ups listed in the poll (vs. Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren or Buttigieg) does Trump get more than 41 percent of the vote. If that remains his ceiling, he’s in deep, deep trouble.

Trump has problems with all sorts of voters — college graduates, women, suburbanites, urbanites, young voters, etc. Overall, 38 percent say they will vote for him (only 28 percent definitely will), and 53 percent say they’ll vote for someone else. (46 percent definitely will.) If you look at various subsections of female voters, you see how especially toxic he has become with a group that votes in greater numbers than their male counterparts. (In 2016, women made up nearly 53 percent of the electorate.) Looking at the reelection numbers, women overall (32 for/59 against), white women (38/55, when Trump won this group with 52 percent in 2016), white college-educated women (32/63, after Trump got 44 percent of them in 2016) and, most of all, suburban women (28/62) are among the voters least likely to support him/most likely to support the Democratic nominee. The most stunning number may be among non-college-educated white women, who supported Trump over Hillary Clinton 61 percent to 34 percent in 2016. Now, only 42 percent would reelect him while 49 percent would not.

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Trump has lost ground with other key parts of his base. For example, white non-college-educated men, a group he won in 2016 by 71 percent to 23 percent, now back him only by a 49 percent to 44 percent margin. (So don’t let anyone tell you that "nothing matters because his base is still with him.”) However, they were only 16 percent of the electorate in 2016, contrary to the view that they are the key demographic that Democrats absolutely have to win over to win back the White House.

In short, Trump, as things stand, would lose badly to the candidate currently running away with the Democratic primary. If he does, women voters appalled by his practice of playing on white male grievances through abject misogyny, his cruel immigration policies, his bullying and general bigotry may be the reason. Now, that’s political karma.

Former Vice President Joe Biden kicked off his presidential campaign at a union hall in Pittsburgh on April 29. Democrats hope to win Pennsylvania in 2020. (Video: Alice Li/The Washington Post)

Read more:

Marc A. Thiessen: Biden is leading the polls. His own party wants to stop him.

Kathleen Parker: A female president is coming soon, just not in 2020

Paul Waldman: The next Democratic president could face a legitimacy crisis

Hugh Hewitt: The 2020 election isn’t going to be close