In Multipolarity

By Daniel Dale, Washington bureau, Toronto Star, March 25, 2016

It’s easy to forget just how unpopular Trump is with the American public: massively unpopular.

Donald Trump (Wilfredo Lee, The Associated Press)

Donald Trump (Wilfredo Lee, The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON—As Donald Trump racks up victories in the Republican presidential primary, breezily promising to win Democratic states like New Jersey and Michigan in the general election, it’s easy to forget just how unpopular he is with the American public. Extremely unpopular. Historically unpopular.

Trump has managed to attract thousands of new voters. But he has repulsed far more people than he has inspired. While anything could happen in a long general — and Trump has far exceeded pundits’ expectations so far — the evidence suggests he would enter the race as the weakest major-party nominee in decades.

The overall numbers

Trump has the worst approval rating of any major-party candidate since at least 1992, maybe ever. He is viewed favourably by about 31 per cent of Americans, unfavourably by about 63 per cent. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton is also unpopular — her rating is 41 per cent favourable, 54 per cent unfavourable — but even she is far more popular than Trump. And his numbers have been sinking further over the course of 2016.

Hypothetical matchups

Trump has consistently performed far worse than any other Republican candidate in hypothetical matchups against Clinton. Hypotheticals should be treated with caution, but the numbers are striking. Clinton beats Trump by an average of 11 percentage points, 50 to 39. That’s a truly massive margin in a presidential election. When Barack Obama clobbered Mitt Romney in 2012, he actually won the popular vote by four points.

Look at the Clinton-Ted Cruz hypothetical: Cruz, Trump’s top remaining rival, is himself polarizing, but he trails Clinton by an average of three percentage points.

In swing states

Trump has vowed to win critical swing states like Florida and Ohio, plus Democratic-leaning states like New Jersey and Michigan. At the moment, he trails Clinton in every one. New Jersey and Michigan appear well out of his reach. He is down four points in Ohio. Florida is closer, at two points. All in all, though, there is no key swing state and no blue state where he appears to hold a lead.

With Hispanics

Romney won just 27 per cent of Hispanics. The party’s official “autopsy” on his defeat concluded that Republicans needed to do much better next time. Trump is poised to do way worse. The candidate who began the campaign calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” has a staggering negative-65 favourability rating: 12 per cent of Hispanics view him favourably, 77 per cent unfavourably. Clinton, conversely, is plus-33.

The 98-point favourability gap makes it possible she could carry Hispanics by something close to the 94-6 margin with which Obama carried African-Americans.

With women

Trump has done just fine with female voters in Republican primaries. The general election is different. Women are expected to make up more than 52 per cent of the electorate, and Trump is now viewed “very” unfavourably by a full 50 per cent of them, a Reuters poll found. A NBC/WSJ poll found that 21 per cent of women see him favourably, 70 per cent unfavourably.

That’s galactically terrible, and he may not have hit bottom yet. Trump’s rivals have declined to run ads highlighting his many sexist remarks. Clinton would not be so kind.

With millennials

Clinton has been trounced by Bernie Sanders with young voters. Trump essentially turns her into Sanders. A March USA Today poll had her clobbering him 52 per cent to 19 per cent with voters under 35.

Trump, in other words, got only half of the 37 per cent youth support Romney got against Obama. And Clinton had twice Trump’s support even among white young people. Among black young people, she was up 67 per cent to 5 per cent.

With Republicans

Forget about swing voters. Trump is having serious trouble earning the support of long-loyal Republicans.

In exit polls of Republican voters in five March primaries, 44 per cent of non-Trump voters said they would not vote for him in the general. In Ohio, 41 per cent said they would “seriously consider” choosing a third party. And in a Marquette University poll of the Milwaukee suburbs, among the most Republican places in America, his approval rating among Republicans was negative-39.

Trump could endanger even deep-red states. In Utah, the most Republican state in the country, a poll last week came to an astonishing conclusion: he is losing to both Clinton and Sanders.

With whites

To compensate for his abominable reputation with non-whites, Trump will likely need to do spectacularly well with whites — far better than Romney’s 20-point margin over Obama. In March, though, Trump has been badly lagging Romney: he leads Clinton by less than 10 points with whites. That’s not even close to good enough. Democratic demographer Ruy Teixeira finds that Trump would have to improve by 12 points on Romney’s showing with whites to win Michigan, by eight points to win Wisconsin, and by eight points to win Pennsylvania.


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