How much trouble is Trump in?
So far, Republican Party organizations in four states have cancelled their presidential primaries, with several others expected to. The reason is so that Trump doesn't have to face challenges from those announced candidates and risk showing that his support in the party isn't as strong as he wants to suggest. The end result though is that Republicans don't get a chance to vote and express their preference.
Other than the obvious problems with this, presidential primaries are often used to help build up voter enthusiasm for an incumbent and strengthen the party's "get out the vote" apparatus. While there's precedent in doing cancelling primaries, it certainly isn't something done to show strength.
And Trump is not showing strength.
Two major polls were released this week. In the Washington Post/AP poll, Trump had an approval rating of only 38%, with his disapproval at a dismal 56%. But that's not what's bad to me. After all, most poll numbers by themselves exist in a vacuum, and it's when there's perspective that they mean the most. What I always find most valuable is how a poll compares to itself, the direction it's going. Back in June, this same poll had Trump's approval at 44%. The next poll in July/August had him down to 41%. And now, the aforementioned 38%. That's three months going downward. And a drop of 6 points.
The other important way to look at polls is comparison to one another, to see if there is any consistency. And the CNN poll has Trump's approval at 39% with his disapproval at 55%. That's consistency. There's also one other important number in the CNN poll. It asked respondents if they thought Trump deserved another term in office. Just 36% said yes -- a remarkable 60% of Americans said, no, he doesn't deserve another term.
That Washington Post/AP poll also had a notable result, showing that the top five Democrats -- including South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg -- each beating Trump by between four and 15 points.
But it was another poll that asked a similar question that I thought was even more significant. Univision did a poll in the Red state of Texas, matching up six Democratic candidates against Trump. And amazingly, ALL SIX Democrats beat Trump -- in Texas!! And they didn't even include Texas Beto O'Rourke in the poll. The margin of leads weren't that large -- the biggest was Bernie Sanders by six point, and the smallest was two points for Elizabeth Warren -- but not only are both of these individuals especially liberal (and the two most-likely to be denounced by Republicans as supposedly "socialist", though no doubt all will -- but again, remember, this is in Texas. And all six who were polled beat Trump there.
None of this is a good starting point for Trump. Yes, there's a long way to go -- but that just as easily means that things can get worse for him.
Some Republicans may be taking solace in winning the special election in North Carolina on Tuesday -- but that would be a fool's errand. Republicans were supposed to win that race. They have won the district for the past half-century. Trump won the district by 12 points. Before him, even Mitt Romney won the district by 12 points. And yesterday? Republicans help on to the seat by...only two points. That's a drop of 10 points. As respected pollster Charlie Cook pointed out, when Democrats had their Blue Wave in 2016, the average drop for Republicans was six points. And this yesterday in a safe, deeply Red district was a 10 point drop. That is not something to celebrate.
How bad is it for Trump? It was reported yesterday by Pro Publica that inside Republican polling data on is not being shared with local candidates, something always done so that they can know how voters feel about the president in their districts. This puts the local candidates at a huge disadvantage. It's believed that the reason is the higher-ups don't want local candidates distancing themselves from Trump, or worse, having the data leak.
None of this says the race is even close to being over. There is a great deal to be wary about. The mere concept of losing to Trump is a horrifying thought. But it is a very strong foundation to build on, and that wariness is, as well, because that's what drives voter enthusiasm to get out the vote.
And if Republicans keep suppressing their own vote even more...all the better.