The unpopular Donald Trump
Despite US President Donald Trump’s bragging about himself, he is not highly regarded by the American people. According to my friend, the pollster Gary Langer, Trump has two dubious distinctions: as the first president in modern polling history never to have received a majority job approval rating, and as having the lowest career average rating of all presidents.
In Langer Research Associates’ latest poll for ABC News/Washington Post, Trump’s job approval rating was 43 percent; it has been 36-44 percent since 2017. The poll also found 26 percent of Americans saying Trump’s behavior has “changed for the worse” since his recent impeachment acquittal.
The poll was conducted in English and Spanish on a random national sample of 1,066 adults, reached by landline and cellphone, for a sampling error margin of 3.5 points. (See Gary Langer, “Sanders and Bloomberg rise, Biden falls, with sharp shifts in views of electability,” abcnews.go.com, 2/19/20.)
Note that a sample of only 1,000 gives a standard representation of US national opinion, even though the American people are over 320 million, triple the number of the Filipino people. It’s the size of the sample, not the size of the population, that determines the error margin. To complain that the sample is “too small” is infantile, and betrays ignorance of basic statistics.
Having been drawn randomly, Langer’s latest sample adequately represents all groups. It is divided 29-25-37 percent into those self-identifying as Democrats, Republicans, and independents, which is realistic (the balance from 100 presumably did not answer).
Right now, the various Democratic presidential aspirants are battling for the nomination of their party. Among the poll’s respondents that lean Democrat, 58 percent say they prefer a nominee who can defeat Trump, and only 38 percent say they prefer one who agrees with them.
In one-on-one matchups with alternative opponents, the poll indicated that Trump would lose the national vote to Joe Biden by 45-52, Bernie Sanders by 45-51, Mike Bloomberg by 45-50, Pete Buttigieg by 46-49, Amy Klobuchar by 46-48, and Elizabeth Warren by 47-48. The numbers are percentages of registered voters.
The race among the Democratic aspirants has tightened up, with Biden losing much of his former big lead, and Sanders and Bloomberg gaining on him. In any case, the new poll shows that, regardless of who becomes the Democratic candidate, the odds are that Trump will lose the national popular vote.
The factors of gender and race are critical to the next election. Biden’s 52 percent, for instance, is due to 60 percent among women, versus only 43 percent among men. Biden gets 71 percent among nonwhites (91 percent among blacks in particular), versus only 41 percent among whites.
Of course, those are not electoral college scores, which is how Trump won the presidency in 2016, despite losing to Hillary Clinton in the national popular vote. It follows that the Republicans will try again to game the electoral college, come November.
To guess the electoral college winner, one should use the statewide polls, after the Democrats have chosen their candidate. These are the polls that will clarify the contest for Blue (Democrat) and Red (Republican) states. The battleground will be in the Swing States, those that have historically gone either way: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Trump’s hope is in the economy: 29 percent of adult Americans say they are “getting ahead,” while 16 percent say they are “falling behind.” The 55 percent balance are just “holding steady.”
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