Trump's most devastating poll number is the majority of Americans vowing to vote against him
In a sea of bad polling for Donald Trump, it’s sometimes hard to seize on one piece of data that smells more like doom than all the others. But the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reminds us of one that continues to stand out since its arrival on the national stage early this year: the number of people vowing to “definitely” vote against Trump.
The year kicked off with dual polls from NPR/Marist and ABC-Washington Post showing that 57% and 56% of Americans respectively said they would “definitely” vote against Trump. Last month, a Quinnipiac poll pinned the anti-Trump pledgers at 54% while some others have dipped into the low 50s. But this week, a statewide University of Texas poll found piled on with a poll showing 43% of voters in the erstwhile GOP stronghold said they “definitely” weren’t voting for Trump and another 7% added that they “probably” wouldn’t vote for him. The number of Texas voters vowing to vote against Trump also outpaced those pledging to vote for him, 39%, by almost a handful of points. Add the 11% of voters in who said they would “probably” vote for Trump and you’ve got a 50-50 head to head between those disinclined to vote for him and those who likely will—in Texas, at that. Plus, independents break against Trump in the Lone Star State by almost 20 points (45% definitely won’t vote Trump, 26% definitely will).
The closest comparison to the anti-Trump pledgers were the anti-Obama pledgers in 2011, with some polls hitting the high 40s. Since Obama won reelection the following year with 51% of the vote, he succeeded in doing one of three things: winning almost all the voters who hadn’t pledged to vote against him; persuading some of those anti-Obama pledgers to change their minds; or turning out pro-Obama voters at higher levels.
But as Blake points out, “precisely zero examples” exist of an incumbent president busting past their ceiling of “definitely not” voters to win reelection with higher percentages than what the polls suggested was possible. That means Trump probably has a ceiling of capturing around 43% to 49% of the popular vote, depending on which poll you use as your baseline.
Too bad Trump can’t just fire all the external pollsters too, alongside those internal pollsters who recently got the axe.