The notion that President Trump is “getting away” with lying, impulsive policy shifts and atrocious judgment (e.g. inviting the Taliban to Camp David, engaging in a self-defeating trade war) because of his hard-core base never made a lot of sense. President George W. Bush’s fervent base stuck with him even after Hurricane Katrina, but that was beside the point. No president’s approval goes to zero (although Trump’s approval rating with women is testing that proposition), but at some point, if an incumbent loses anything approaching a majority, he’s cooked. The newest Post-ABC News poll suggests that is where Trump stands presently.

Trump’s approval rating among voting-age Americans stands at 38 percent, down from 44 percent in June but similar to 39 percent in April, with 56 percent now saying they disapprove of his performance in office. Among registered voters, 40 percent say they approve of Trump, while 55 percent disapprove.

Nearly half (48 percent) strongly disapprove of Trump, compared with only 27 percent who strongly approve.

His security blanket, the economy, is unraveling, even though the country has not yet entered a recession. “The Post-ABC poll finds that Trump’s economic approval rating has also declined from 51 percent in early July to 46 percent in the new survey, with 47 percent disapproving.” A remarkable 60 percent think a recession is likely in the next year, which unfortunately might become a self-fulfilling prophecy if those respondents cut back on spending. And a plurality (43 percent) think Trump’s trade war increases the chance of a recession.

Even more alarming for Trump, the details of the poll reveal the president has so narrowed his support that he is at much greater risk of defeat in 2020 less than three years after winning the election with only 46 percent of the vote. In virtually every subset of the electorate, he now does worse. His disapproval among independents is now at 58 percent, his approval at 36 percent. In 2016, he won independents 46 percent to 42 percent, making for a 26 percent swing against Trump. Among non-college-educated voters, 52 percent disapprove, 42 percent approve; in 2016 he won these voters 51 percent to 44 percent.

Here is the net approval/disapproval for several groups, compared with Trump’s 2016 results:

  • white college graduates: -24 vs. +3 in 2016
  • white college-educated women: -21 vs. -7 in 2016
  • white non-college-educated women: -11 vs. +27 in 2016
  • suburban voters: -15 vs. +4 in 2016

This should inform Democrats and political punditry in a few respects.

First, when Trump says horrendous things about immigrants, or lies about tariffs, or refuses to budge on gun safety, he’s not getting away with anything. He’s digging his own political grave among these groups of voters.

Second, Trump’s problems extend not just to all states with a lot of white college graduates and/or a lot of suburban voters — but also to states with white non-college-educated women. That’s just about everywhere. Perhaps non-college-educated white women care just as much about gun safety, family separations at the border and bullying as do nonwhites and college-educated women.

Third, increasingly Trump’s base has narrowed to white, non-college-educated men (69/26). His racial fear-mongering, bullying, misogyny, xenophobia and lying might not be a bug with these voters; they might be a feature. Trump speaks to angry, less-educated men, whose irrational fears and resentments he channels and amplifies.

Fourth, this should disabuse Democrats and the punditocracy of the idea that Democrats need a white man to win. In fact, white male voters are likely a lost cause; Democrats need a candidate who can excite traditional Democratic voters (e.g. African Americans) and who appeals to college-educated voters, to all women and to suburban voters. In 2018, Democrats won on a diverse coalition of women — not one of old white guys.

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