2020 polls: White-collar revolt against Trump is nearing peak

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Relative to other Republicans, Trump has underperformed those voters since he started his first presidential campaign in 2015. And by mocking science and openly inflaming racial tensions, he is now directly focusing the campaign debate on two of the main dynamics that have driven those voters away from him. That shows signs of accelerating change for these voters, who had never backed a Democratic presidential candidate in polls before 2016, away from the Republican Party to an unprecedented new level.

Conversely, while widespread concern in black and Hispanic communities about both the death of George Floyd and the disproportionate burden they have faced from the coronavirus outbreak could increase their participation from the lukewarm level of 2016, until now most 2020 polls have not shown Biden improve on Hillary Clinton's margin between them. Meanwhile, Trump maintains a consistent lead among white voters without college degrees, though almost all polls show that his margins with women in that group have shrunk substantially since 2016.

Polls now show not only a decisive consensus among whites with at least a four-year college education that Trump has mishandled the coronavirus outbreak and protests that erupted after Floyd's death, but also that many of those voters They believe that Trump is exacerbating those problems through his actions. Those include his determination to hold rallies in person and accept the Republican nomination before a traditional convention audience this summer and his retweeting of a video Sunday in which one of his supporters sings "White Power," and another on Monday at than a white couple brandishing weapons at peaceful protesters.
These reactions could make the 2020 elections the culmination of the long-term electoral realignment that I have called the "class reversal": the movement of well-educated white voters toward Democrats, even as blue-collar whites move to the Republican Party, a reversal of the pattern that defined American policy during the first decades after World War II.

Returning to the themes of 2016

Trump has always tried to convince his primarily non-university and non-urban white base that he can "only" protect them from the twin forces he portrays as a threat to their interests: derogatory elites who are alleged to disdain their values ​​and dangerous minorities and immigrants who allegedly threatening their jobs and physical safety.

Under the enormous pressure of the coronavirus outbreak and massive nationwide protests of racial inequality, Trump has returned to those core issues.

He has frequently disregarded the advice of medical experts, especially by refusing to wear a mask and continuing to organize major in-person protests over objections from local officials in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Phoenix. And it has responded to Floyd's protests primarily with racially infused belligerence, such as his twin retweets of angry whites over the weekend, his unwavering defense of Confederate monuments and his accusation that aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement represent "Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!"

Observers in both parties believe Trump sees his defiance of local officials and medical experts at the protests as a way to reinforce his identity as a stranger who will break the rules to defend the interests of his voters. But on both sides, many believe the approach carries enormous risk, particularly with older, college-educated voters, who have shown high levels of concern about the pandemic.

People cheer as they attend a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
When Trump showed up last week in the Phoenix suburbs, suffering from a sharp surge in coronavirus that has pushed the total workload down to 45,000 in Maricopa County last Monday, much of the coverage of his megachurch rally was He focused on his refusal to require masks or social distancing and the brief amount of time he spent on the outbreak (10 minutes in a 90-minute direction).

That Trump host an event that doesn't require masks "is a little deaf in this part of the state," Charles Coughlin, a veteran Phoenix-based Republican consultant, told me. "It is part of (his) anti-establishment method, which appears to be worn out in a crisis."

Democratic pollster Nick Gourevitch, whose firm, the Global Strategy Group, helps conduct the daily follow-up survey of Navigator that measures attitudes about the pandemic and race relations offers a similar verdict. In the Navigator survey last week, he said, a solid majority of Americans opposed Trump's decision to restart his protests, with much greater opposition among whites with college degrees (about 3 out of 5) than those without one. (just under half).

In Navigator polls, about two-thirds of whites with titles of at least four years have consistently expressed concern that Trump ignores expert opinions, and more than half say they are very concerned about that pattern, he said.

Trump's holding of the protests despite advice from public health officials is "continual fodder to ignore expert advice, which has always been a major concern for voters," Gourevitch said. "They also play with the self-absorption aspect that he needs these rallies for himself and his own re-election rather than the good of the people."

President Donald Trump speaks during a Students for Trump event at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Tuesday, June 23.
Those concerns are evident in recent national and state polls, especially among more college voters who often see their own success in life based on the experience they have accumulated through their education. In last week's New York Times / Siena College national poll, about 90% of voters of all races with four-year college or graduate degrees said they trusted medical scientists to provide accurate information about the virus. While only 18% of the former and 12% of the latter said they trusted Trump.
In the same survey, two-thirds of those with four-year degrees and three-quarters of those with graduate degrees said they disapproved of Trump's response to the outbreak. Similarly, in the latest national CNN poll by SRSS, nearly two-thirds of college-educated whites disapproved of Trump's response to the outbreak, while a narrow majority of whites without approved degrees.

Republican consultant Alex Conant, the communications director for Senator Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign, says those numbers among well-educated voters (as well as comparable weakness among older people) show the price of minimizing the crisis by Trump and his open challenge to public health. officials

"I think that is why you are losing in all these changing states," said Conant. "I think there is a part of his base that he loves and supports enormously by throwing caution to the wind and keeping track of the campaign. And that's part of his base that he's very much in tune with. But then if you're a Independent voter or more traditional conservative … this is a constant reminder of all the things you don't like about his presidency. We are a long way from talking about taxes and judges. "

In a measure of Trump's challenge, even Jacksonville, the planned site of his convention acceptance speech, announced Monday that it would require residents to wear masks in public places and indoors.

Similar concerns about race relations

All indications indicate that Trump's response to Floyd's death and the protests it sparked are dividing the electorate along the same lines. After initially indicating some concern about Floyd's death, Trump withdrew to more familiar ground by urging greater force against violent protesters (and actually applied it before his walk to the Church of San Juan), highlighting those racially inflammatory videos and repeatedly denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement issue.

Black Lives Matter Protests Anticipate Diversified America Policy

In all these gestures, Trump has echoed at a distance the arguments of Richard Nixon, who won the presidency in 1968 in part by promising to restore "law and order." But in the process, Trump can only demonstrate how much the country has changed since Nixon's time. Critically, polls this spring consistently show that Trump's belligerent message about race is alienating not only the growing number of voters of color, but also the same college-educated white voters who are already uneasy about their handling of the coronavirus.

In the most recent CNN national poll, 71% of whites with titles of at least four years said they disapproved of Trump's handling of race relations. That was almost as high as the percentage of non-whites (75%) who disapproved.
See Trump and Biden in face-to-face polls
A national Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month found that two-thirds of college-educated whites preferred Biden over Trump to handle race relations (while the majority of untitled whites favored Trump). That was as great an advantage as Biden enjoyed that question. among Hispanics (although black voters preferred it even more emphatically, by almost 10 to 1).

As Matt McDermott, a Democratic pollster, has argued, those results underscore a critical shift since 1968: While most white suburbanites believed Nixon could reduce disorder, many of the equivalent voters believe that the language of confrontation and division of Trump on race increases the risk of violence in his communities.

In a surprising finding, Quinnipiac found this month that college-educated whites, 2-for-1, said having Trump as president made them feel less secure rather than more. By comparison, whites without grades, by a 20-point margin, said Trump made them feel more confident.

Navigator surveys also found that two-thirds of college whites expressed concern that in times of crisis Trump would make matters worse "with … inflammatory words and actions."

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The cumulative effect of these attitudes could create an unprecedented deficit for a Republican presidential candidate among well-educated whites. As of 2016, neither of the two oldest sources of data on voter elections had shown that Democrats have won white voters with college degrees. That was true for exit polls conducted for a consortium of media organizations since the 1970s, and the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies, dating back to 1952.

In 2016, Edison Research exit polls conducted for media organizations including CNN showed that Trump achieved a narrow 3-point victory among college-educated whites, while the United States National Election Studies poll gave Clinton a 10-point lead, the first time that poll had shown Democrats won in this group.

(Two other widely-discussed data sources on the outcome also diverged: Post-election analysis by Catalist, a Democratic voter selection firm, showed that Trump led those voters well-educated by little, while a study of voters verified by the Pew Research Center gave Clinton a dominant advantage of 20 points).

Despite the differences in overall margins, these analyzes converged around one key point: they all showed that Clinton won among white women with a college education. Trump, in turn, led among white men with college degrees in all of them except Pew, and even that study gave Clinton a very small lead.

But compared to any of those 2016 results, the latest national polls show Trump is falling further on both fronts.

Biden's leadership among college-educated white women has reached high heights in recent Quinnipiac polls (34 percentage points on average compiled for me from his May and June polls), NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist (29 points in their June poll) and CNN (46 points in June).

Among white men with a college education, Trump had a record 8 points in the CNN poll and 12 in the NPR / Marista poll; Quinnipiac's average showed Biden with a 4-point lead between them, closer at least to Pew's result in 2016.

The New York Times / Siena survey showed that Biden's leadership among all college-educated whites was approaching an impressive 30 percentage points, far more than any data source recorded in 2016. Recent surveys showed that Biden was comfortably leading among the University-educated white voters in key battlefield states. like Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Wisconsin.

Looking at November

All this indicates that November could produce perhaps the largest gap between whites with and without university degrees. In most state and national polls, Trump consistently maintains a big 2-to-1 lead among blue-collar white men, his best group in 2016.

And while polls consistently show Trump's margin among blue-collar white women has decreased since 2016, in most polls he maintains at least some edge with them.

Anything that comes close to these results among well-educated whites would intensify the big move away from Trump and the Republican Party evident in the 2018 election. Before the election, Republicans controlled 43% of the House districts that have more college graduates than average. After that, they only had a room.

Now, with Trump's messages and performance on the virus and career further antagonizing those voters, the Republican Party is facing an election that could consolidate and even extend the Democratic advance in those well-educated suburbs.

The partisan abyss over the

Republicans could lose more House seats in suburban Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Tampa, Florida, among other places; resistance in large metropolitan centers is the main threat to Republican senators in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and perhaps Iowa and Georgia; And Trump faces the possibility of an even deeper decline in the largest metropolitan centers not only in traditionally blue states but also in emerging Sun Belt battlefields, including Arizona, Georgia, and Texas.

Maricopa County, centered in Phoenix, was the largest US county to win in 2016, for example, but recent polls have shown that he and Republican Senator Martha McSally face double-digit deficits there now.

Trump has directed his responses to the two major crises of 2020 almost entirely to his non-urban and non-university voter base, while disregarding concerns that well-educated metropolitan voters have consistently voiced in polls. That reflects the belief among many Republicans that their most likely path to victory is to get even more voters from their base than in 2016, especially in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the three Rust Belt states that marked their choice.

Republican pollster Whit Ayres and other Republicans also say Trump could claim at least some ground among well-educated white votes by representing Biden as a threat to raise his taxes and damage the economy and his stock portfolios.

But Conant, the Republican Party consultant, says Trump has cut a big hole in his white-collar suburbs by responding so chivalrously to the two national earthquakes that have caught his attention.

"He really doesn't want to talk about the pandemic, which is what everyone in the United States is thinking about," Conant said. "It's also the same with the Black Lives Matter protests. I really didn't want to talk about George Floyd, which is what everyone in America was talking about for a month. When you have that kind of disconnect between the leader and the voters they see it in the potential (electoral) wave that is now more likely than not. "



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