With five weeks to go, the enemy for Trump is now the clock more than Joe Biden. Trump is now in danger of losing his second-tier must-win states of Ohio and Iowa. Amy Walter at Cook Political Report:
One big reason for Trump's continued struggle in these states is his narrowing margins with white, working-class voters.
Let's start with Iowa.
Three public polls have come out in the last couple of weeks.
- The Des Moines Register showed the race a dead heat at 47 percent to 47 percent.
- The New York Times/Siena College survey had Biden up by three points, 45 percent to 42 percent.
- The Monmouth University poll found Trump with a healthier six-point lead, 50 percent to 44 percent).
The New York Times/Siena College poll (September 16-22) found Trump leading Biden among white, non-college voters by just three-points (44 to 41 percent) — a 20 point drop from 2016. Biden's 41 percent is a six-point improvement on Clinton's showing from 2016.
The Des Moines Register survey (September 14-17), found Biden leading among white, non-college women by 19 points (56 percent to 37 percent), while Trump held a huge 32-point lead with white, non-college men (64 percent to 31 percent). This translates, roughly, to a 7-8 point lead for Trump with these voters, a 14-15 point drop from 2016.
The Monmouth poll (September 18-20), finds Trump only slightly underperforming his 2016 showing with white, non-college voters, leading Biden by 17 points (56 percent to 39 percent); a six-point drop from 2016.
However, one bit of good news for the president in Iowa is that his job approval rating is in the 48-49 percent range. While that's not off-the-charts good, it's much higher than his national average of 42-43 percent and much better than what we've seen in other battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania or Arizona. The Des Moines Register and Monmouth polls also find Trump improving in both vote share and favorability since earlier this summer.
In Ohio, a new Fox News poll (September 20-23) finds Trump slipping even further behind than he was this summer. In late May-early June, Trump trailed Biden by two points (43-45 percent). This most recent poll finds him five points back — 45 to 50 percent.
Trump is basically no better off today in the September Quinnipiac survey (September 17-21), than he was back in mid-June. Back in June, Trump trailed Biden by one-point (46-45 percent). In mid-September, the race was basically in the same place — 48 percent Biden to 47 percent for Trump.
In both polls, Trump is underperforming his 2016 vote among white, non-college voters by 11 to 16 points.
But, Trump's troubles in the state extends into suburban areas that at one time looked impervious to Democratic incursion. Trump carried white, college-educated voters by one-point (47-46 percent) in 2016. And, in 2017-2018, Democrats were unable to flip hotly contested races in suburban Columbus and Cincinnati.
Today, however, even GOPers concede that Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents the suburban Cincinnati 1st CD is in serious danger this year. And, Trump is now trailing among white, college-educated voters anywhere from eight to 11 points in the most recent polls.
Another way to judge the competitiveness of a state, of course, is to check on the resources the campaigns and their allies are investing (or not) into it.
For the Biden campaign, neither state is a "tipping point;" they don't "need" to win either to get to 270 Electoral Votes. Our latest ratings show Biden with an advantage in enough states (and CD's) to get him to 290, without Ohio or Iowa. But, Biden's huge cash hauls over the summer — the former Vice President outraised Trump in August by more than $150M and had more $60M more in cash on hand than Trump — gives Biden the flexibility to spend some money in 'reach' states.
The Trump campaign can't win without either state. But, given Biden's superior financial advantage, they also have to be more judicious with where they spend their money. That means making sure that must-win states like North Carolina and Florida are well-funded.
This is exactly the type of advantage Biden's fundraising haul supplies him: he can hit Trump hard in Ohio and Iowa and force Trump to choose between them and NC/Florida/Georgia with Trump's more limited resources when Trump needs all five states and then some in order to win. Biden can now strike at ten or twelve states in the final five weeks, he has the money to go after Ohio, Iowa, Texas, and Georgia while still keeping up the pressure in PA, WI, MI, and Arizona and the big battlegrounds of NC and Florida.
Trump is now on the defensive in all those states, all ten he won in 2016. He may not even win three of them this time around.
Shawna Jensen is among former Donald Trump supporters who are voting for Democrat Joe Biden this year, breaking ranks with family, friends and, in many cases, a lifelong political affiliation. They say it’s caused them anguish, both to personal relationships and their own identity. They wanted change and disruption, until they found out what that actually looked like under a President Trump.
Trump’s case for reelection rests almost solely on the intensity of support from those who backed him four years ago. Unlike other modern presidents, he has done little to try to expand his base, and there’s no evidence that he has. So he cannot afford to lose many voters like Jensen.
It’s unclear how many voters like Jensen are out there — white, middle-class people who are pro-gun and anti-abortion rights, solid Republicans in most conventional ways — and how they will affect the election’s outcome. Voters like Jensen could be only a slice of the electorate, but they still represent a flashing caution sign for the president.
Trump’s support among Republicans has been stable throughout his time in office. For all those voters repelled by Trump, there are diehard legions who remain solidly with him because they believe he honored his campaign promises, shows strengths and has presided over an economy that was flourishing before the pandemic.
In a tight race — especially in swing states — those who are abandoning Trump could make a difference.
In two dozen interviews with voters in three traditional swing states and Texas, people discussed why they aren’t voting for him again and what it feels like to leave behind a political allegiance that was part of their personal identity.
“Everything that I thought I knew doesn’t exist anymore,” said 22-year-old Zach Berly, of North Carolina, who was active in high school and college Republican clubs and enthusiastically cast his first presidential ballot for Trump in 2016 but won’t be voting for him in November. “There has to be another solution. I don’t even know what I am.”
The bedrock of Trump’s America is white voters who are 45 or older, and they are largely solidly with him, especially in rural areas. According to a Pew Research Center study, the 2018 elections showed a decline in support for Republicans in suburban areas, and if that is true in 2020, it provides an opening for Biden.
“Joe Biden’s a family man and so am I, and that’s how I’m connecting with him,” said Jensen. “He loves his kids and his wife, you can tell it. For me, he’s the safer of the two candidates. And he doesn’t make fun of people."
People bought the Trump snake oil because they thought he was worth it. He was a con man and a grifter and they resent it. They're leaving him because he failed to make their lives better.
But nearly all are okay with his racism.
And even should Trump lose, we still have to deal with it, and with them.