PRRI’s poll of battleground states finds, “Trump’s favorability in battleground states has dropped substantially since March, from 53% to 38%.” Non-college-educated voters, who previously were a key part of his base, are falling away. “Trump’s favorability among non-college graduates in battleground states has dropped 20 percentage points between March and April (59% to 39%), putting it more in line with his favorability in 2019 (45%).” In sum, “Large declines are also evident among those living in battleground states (-15 percentage points), those age 65 and over (-14 percentage points), white Americans without a college degree (-12 percentage points), and white women (-9 percentage points).”
This does not mean Trump is a goner. It does not mean Biden is home free. It does mean there has been a considerable erosion in Trump’s support, making him look more vulnerable than at any time this year. One can cite a host of reasons why now, of all times, the dam, if not breaking, seems less impervious to current events than have past incidents: Over 60,000 Americans have died and the economy is in shambles. Trump’s constant presence and irrational, incoherent rants make him seem even less capable and sober. Biden has sewed up the nomination, and has found campaigning from his basement has its pluses. He can control access and his message, while allowing Trump to self-immolate.
However, Trump is not the only one who looks vulnerable. Republican Senate Republicans’ polls are dreadful. An internal GOP poll from Georgia shows, “Voters are evenly split on Trump, but [Gov. Brian] Kemp’s disapproval rating (52%) outweigh [sic] his approval rating (43%). [Republican Sen. Kelly] Loeffler is deeper underwater after grappling with an uproar over her stock transactions during the pandemic, with an approval of 20% and disapproval of 47%.”
This is Georgia, folks.
In Montana, “Governor Steve Bullock is dominating local news as the face of Montana’s fight to contain the outbreak, boosting his profile as his party fights to win control of the Senate in November.” Republicans’ undiluted support for Trump, resistance to stay-at-home orders and refusal to come to the aid of their states and cities with adequate financial relief may be taking their toll.
Trump could recover if, for example, there is no second wave of coronavirus cases, the deaths abate quickly, and states are getting back to work by Election Day. If you find that unlikely, you are in good company. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, for one, thinks it is inevitable the virus will be around in the fall. Economists are gradually worsening their outlook for the second and third quarters of 2020. In short, things may look worse a few months from now.
Even more damaging for Trump, he is unlikely to stop being Trump. He cannot give up his daily press fix (despite stories he was going to cut back), and we know he is not suddenly going to become the voice of reason and science. Trump will be Trump. And that’s the problem for him and Republicans. In a stunning failure of leadership and governance, Republicans have been entirely unable to comfort the country and provide confidence they have a path forward. They may finally have exhausted the voters’ patience.