That’s sort of self-refuting. Democrats want to impeach Trump because it’s the only way they can win, but they have nothing on the impeachment itself? Trump’s opposition must really be in dire straits.
Or perhaps, just maybe, Trump is being deceptive. There’s a bit more to the impeachment inquiry and Trump’s actions on Ukraine than just the phone call or even just the whistleblower complaint. In fact, it’s much more likely that Trump will lose the 2020 election, booting him from office, than that 20 Senate Republicans would join every member of the Democratic caucus in doing the same thing after an impeachment.
It’s really not complicated. Trump also told reporters Monday that it was the large audiences at his rallies that were “the poll” — not, you know, actual polls. Actual polls consistently show Trump trailing leading Democrats. He’s down seven points to former vice president Joe Biden in RealClearPolitics’ average of national polls, and trails Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by seven points each. Lots of fervent Trump supporters come to his rallies, but even 20,000 stalwarts turning up to cheer him on aren’t a better indicator than a statistically significant national survey.
The pattern has been the same over the course of the year. Over and over, Democrats beat Trump in national polls from reliable, nonpartisan pollsters. Only rarely are the candidates even tied.
That the results often show a distinct Democratic lead means something else, too: Both Democrats and Trump tend to operate in narrow ranges of results.
Biden, for example, has ranged from 47 to 57 percent against Trump, while Trump has only ranged from 38 to 45 percent. Warren has seen a wider range, thanks to an outlier in which she was at 42. In most of her polls against Trump, though, she’s been higher than Trump’s peak at 48 percent. Trump’s high against Sanders is the same: one lonely 48 percent poll in which he was nonetheless losing.
Across the three sets of national polls, Trump has ranged from 38 to 48 percent, with three-quarters of his results putting him at 43 percent or lower.
Late in the 2016 campaign, then-Trump campaign adviser Kellyanne Conway insisted that Hillary Clinton’s ceiling of support spelled significant problems for her candidacy.
“My goodness, why is this woman at 46 percent?” she said to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “She’s like the magic 46. She’s 46 percent in the new NBC News Wall Street Journal poll, she’s 46 percent in a lot of the swing states.”
Trump has been at or above 46 percent support in only 1 in 10 national polls against Sanders, Warren and Biden this year.
Granted, at the time Conway said that, Trump was polling far lower than Clinton (as Cooper quickly pointed out). But Conway’s point turned out to be somewhat valid. Trump had a lot more room to grow in the polls and ended up pulling within about 3 points of Clinton once voting was done. That was enough — thanks to 78,000 votes in three states — to win the presidency.
Now, though, Trump appears to be in a much more Clinton-like position. He’s mired in the low 40s, and there’s little suggestion he has much room to grow.
A poll released Monday by PRRI makes that clear. Only about 4 in 10 Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president; 6 in 10 disapprove. But, importantly, 46 percent of respondents said that they both disapprove and almost certainly won’t change their minds. That includes 45 percent of independents, a group that Trump narrowly won in 2016 and that helped power his narrow overall victory.
A Post-ABC News poll from April had a more direct version of the question. At that point, more than half of respondents said they wouldn’t vote for Trump, including about the same percentage of independents.
It’s certainly possible that a Trump who pulls in 45 percent of the vote next year could still win the presidency, either due to the vagaries of the electoral vote or if a third-party candidate pulls a significant number of votes. That latter scenario, in fact, is the only one in the modern era when a president has been elected with less than 45 percent of the vote. In 2020, though, Trump would need both a third-party candidate and for his own candidacy to inspire more loyalty from his base than the Democrat inspires from theirs. The PRRI results don’t reflect that sort of loyalty.
Trump allies will no doubt point out that Trump’s ceiling in the polls at this point in 2016 was similarly low. No one thought he would win the general election; few really thought he would win the nomination. But that, too, is the point: People know Trump now. They know how he’ll be as president, and they’ve largely made up their minds about him.
It’s more likely than not that he’s going to be impeached and more likely than not that he will not be removed from office. That may amount to “having nothing” in Trump’s estimation, but the impeachment process is itself a reminder that Democrats have some justification in thinking they might win a presidential election against him.