This post needs to start with a list of strong caveats.
• Polls underestimated Donald Trump’s chances in 2016 in a way that, while not egregiously inaccurate overall, crucially failed to foresee the way he’d win the Electoral College.
• There are like a million days (actually 643 days) until the 2020 election.
• Any individual poll is just one snapshot of where a hopefully representative subset of potential voters is at during a given time period, not a prediction of exactly what will happen in a real election.
But with those caveats out of the way, this post also gets to highlight a pretty striking result from a 2020 poll out of Michigan, which is currently one of the bellwether-iest swing states in the U.S. as far as predicting who will win the presidency. The poll, conducted for WDIV and the Detroit News by a reputable pollster (Glengariff Group), found:
• That Trump’s job-performance approval-disapproval rating is underwater in the state by a 38–53 margin and that among independents, he’s underwater by 7 percentage points (43–50).
• That Trump would lose a hypothetical 2020 matchup against Joe Biden by a 53–40 margin.
• That Trump would lose a hypothetical 2020 matchup against Bernie Sanders by a 52–41 margin.
Trump also lost matchups against Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren by smaller margins—but that’s because more respondents said they were undecided in head-to-heads involving the two lesser-known candidates, not because Trump got significantly more support himself against them than he did against Biden and Sanders.
What’s most worrisome for Trump about these results is not just that Biden and Sanders are both very well-known—only 9 percent of Americans said they didn’t have an opinion about Sanders in a recent Gallup poll, and Biden is Biden—but that they’re well-known for being about as far apart ideologically as two Democratic presidential candidates could be. Biden is the guy strongly associated with the Democratic Party establishment who has a long record on issues like criminal justice and financial regulation that now qualify as conservative; Sanders is the fiery leftist outsider who wants to crush the banks and raise taxes to pay for universal health care and higher education. If both of those guys would trounce Trump, it suggests that there’s not much that voters could learn about Warren or Harris—or really anyone with a (D) next to their name—that they would find disqualifying.
And that’s in the context of a fairly strong economy. And in the context of Michigan voters believing their state is on “the right track” by a 19-point margin, according to the same poll.
Not good for the Trump man! But hey, there’s still time to turn it around. Maybe if he builds the wall? (WDIV and the Detroit News found that Michigan voters oppose Trump’s wall plan by a 21-point margin.)