Trump is slipping among whites
Cohn’s analysis finds that Trump’s slippage is driven largely by his eroding support among white voters, particularly those said to be his base. Cohn averaged together recent high-quality polls and found that Biden’s overall lead over Trump has expanded to 10 points, up from six points earlier this spring.
Specifically, Cohn found that in this average of polls, Trump’s edge over Biden among non-college-educated white voters has slipped by 10 points. He now leads among them by 21 points, versus 31 points earlier this spring, the latter being about the same lead Trump commanded among them in 2016.
As Cohn notes, the shift among this demographic “would be enough to assure Mr. Biden the presidency, given his considerable strength among white college graduates.”
Indeed, as Cohn also points out, white college grads now back Biden by 20 points, up four points from two months ago and up eight points from 2016, when Trump won in part by not losing educated whites by the margins many of us wrongly expected.
Biden also continues to hold an average lead of seven points among seniors, Cohn finds, which is striking amid all this unrest and amid Trump’s bluster about responding with “STRENGTH!”
None of this was supposed to be happening.
A cultural shift in white America?
One possible reason for all this can be found in the new Post/Schar School poll: There is a very large shift underway in how white voters view the issues underlying the protests.
Only 35 percent of Americans overall approve of Trump’s handling of the protests, the Post poll finds. Meanwhile, 74 percent support the protests and 69 percent say the killing of George Floyd shows broader problems in how police treat black Americans.
But note these findings among whites: Only 39 percent of them approve of Trump’s approach, while 57 percent disapprove; 69 percent of them support the protests; and 68 percent of them say Floyd’s death reveals systemic police mistreatment of blacks.
In these cases, there’s not a big difference along educational lines: Strikingly, a bare majority of non-college whites disapproves of Trump’s handling of the protests. And large majorities of both non-college and college-educated whites support the protests and say Floyd’s killing shows broader problems in the police treatment of black Americans.
Also striking: The 69 percent of Americans who believe the killing represents broader systemic problems represent a 26-point shift since 2014, when only 43 percent said the same on a comparable question.
Again, the story here is white voters. As The Post’s write-up notes, on this question …
The biggest changes are among whites overall (a 33-point shift) and white women (38 points).
That’s a huge shift among whites toward agreement with the core grievances of the protesters. And this is mirrored by other polling, which has found similarly large percentages of whites agreeing with those grievances.
It’s also mirrored on the ground. As Ryan Cooper points out, across the country we’ve seen black protesters joined by whites, including poor and rural ones.
Now, we don’t want to be too Pollyannish here: It remains to be seen what white Americans will be willing to support in terms of specific reforms and (as Cooper also notes) in terms of addressing the deeper economic inequalities along racial lines fueling underlying anger.
Still, it looks plausible that a broad cultural shift may be underway throughout white America on these issues. Biden could directly benefit from this if he is perceived as striking a much saner balance. He has condemned violence while calling for broad reforms to address grievances that large swaths of white America now see as legitimate and demanding of action.
Obviously we cannot know what sort of direct relationship all this has with Trump’s slippage among white voters. But we can at least reasonably speculate that Trump’s demagoguery has failed to shore up his support with them and that their rejection of his basic arguments helps explain why.
This, of course, is not a possibility that Trump is capable of entertaining. He has absolute, unshakable confidence in the potency of his magical reality-bending powers:
As Trump’s floating of this despicable conspiracy theory shows, it is highly unlikely he can be persuaded to even ask himself whether his magical demagoguery might be failing him. So this derangement will continue.
But, with some signs showing the protests are settling into a calmer, more quietly resolute longer-term posture as grievances appear to be getting heard throughout society, this nonsense will likely make Trump continue to look more unhinged and out of touch. Including among white voters.