A new Washington Post–ABC News poll Tuesday surveying hypothetical matchups between President Donald Trump and the top Democratic challengers shows each potential opponent with a significant lead, as support for the president has eroded among independents, a group he narrowly won in 2016. The results show a national political landscape that poses significant challenges to reelection for Trump, who will likely have to rely on a narrow path that uses the Electoral College to his advantage by eking out close wins in the states he won in 2016 while likely getting routed in Democratic strongholds.
The hypothetical head-to-head matchups gave Joe Biden the biggest advantage of the five candidates mentioned to registered voters. The former vice president leads Trump by a whopping 17 points among independent voters, according to the Post. The head-to-head results are:
• Joe Biden: +17 (56 percent to Trump’s 39 percent)
• Elizabeth Warren: +15 (55 percent to 40 percent)
• Bernie Sanders: +14 (55 percent to 41 percent)
• Pete Buttigieg: +11 (52 percent to 41 percent)
• Kamala Harris: +9 (51 percent to 42 percent)
Another potentially troubling sign for the president nestled in the survey is that nearly a third (30 percent) of self-identified Republican leaners polled said they would prefer that the Republican Party choose a different nominee, and a quarter (24 percent) said they felt strongly that the GOP should replace Trump on the ticket. While Trump still racks up near-universal support numbers from Republican voters, the poll shows significant and continued dissatisfaction within the GOP. While that doesn’t mean these voters will go for Democrats, it does mean they might stay home. That could prove costly, for if Trump’s support wanes within his party by even a fraction, it could tip close Rust Belt states the other direction.
“National margins of the size in the new survey, if they were to hold for another year, would probably result in a popular-vote victory for the Democrats, possibly larger than the nearly 3 million-vote margin which Hillary Clinton earned over Trump in 2016,” the Post notes. “That means Trump’s path to victory next year is to replicate the electoral college majority he fashioned by narrowly winning Florida, North Carolina and three states that had long been Democratic presidential strongholds—Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—while easily winning Ohio and Iowa, which had been swing states in recent elections.”