Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Newsflash: Donald Trump's Poll Numbers Are Brutal, But That's Nothing New

Donald Trump peaked in 2011 national GOP primary polling at 26%. His best performance this year is 16%. Photo courtesy of Charlie Leight/2015 Getty Images.

Much to the chagrin of a large number of right-leaning political pundits, business mogul Donald Trump is polling well enough nationally among Republican primary voters to land himself in the top tier of candidates, whether the so-called "Establishment" likes it or not.

Yes. With one of the most crowded primary fields in history, as well as one of the most hyped, it's the notoriously bombastic and combative Donald Trump who is surging among the GOP.  And as surprising as it may seem, it shouldn't be. After all, we've been down this road before.

Very little has changed in the last 30 years since The Donald first gave serious consideration to a presidential run. Everything is there: the ego, the far-fetched policy prescriptions, the exceedingly wild accusations and insults hurled against his opponents, the erratic behavior, but most relevant to this piece, his poor standing in American public opinion throughout the years.

Polling data from Trump's presidential flirtations before 2011 is hard to come by. Though the limited amount I could retrieve indicated America's patience with Trump was only slightly higher than it is today.

As a result, the focus of this piece will be the comparison between Trump's polling performance in the first half of 2011, versus his performance so far this year. Spoiler alert: from a GOP horse-race perspective, Trump is looking very similar to how he did four years ago. His standing has worsened, however, from three different perspectives: 1) he's less popular with the general public, 2) he's less popular with primary voters, and 3) his general election standing looks worse.

No Love For Trump From The American Public

Since the start of this year, Trump has averaged a 27% favorability rating across nine state and national polls, with 62% saying they view him unfavorably. In national polling alone, he fairs even worse, averaging a 25/65% rating. An ABC/Washington Post survey taken shortly after Trump revealed he would be making a major campaign announcement on June 16 found an astounding 76% of registered voters saying they viewed Trump unfavorably. The same poll found that only 13% of voters could bring themselves to say they view Trump favorably, despite his near universal name recognition. His unfavorable rating exceeds his favorable rating in every poll of adults taken this year, by anywhere from 19-63 percentage points.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Rise of Non-White Voters: Why The Racial Composition Of National 2016 Election Polls May Be Missing The Mark

Exit polling indicates that the non-white share of the electorate has increased by 2-4% in every presidential election since 1992. Picture courtesy of Jacquelyn Martin/A.P.

The Cook Political Report's Political Analyst David Wasserman recently tweeted the message below, regarding the likely racial make-up of the 2016 presidential election:

Wasserman's tweet revives a point made very shortly following the 2012 election, when I posited that based on demographic shifts since 1992, white voters could expect to make up anywhere between 68-70% of the 2016 electorate.  Why? Because the white share of the presidential vote has dropped between two and four points every cycle since 1992.

Well, the prognosticators at The Cook Political Report have spoken. And given their level of expertise in these matters, I'll happily give them the benefit of the doubt and go with their estimate - the 2016 electorate should be roughly 70% white, and 30% non-white.

Based on Wasserman's analysis, it might be a bit surprising to learn that the racial composition of some pollsters' surveys looks little like his assumption of the 2016 electorate. Democratic firm Public Policy Polling's most recent national survey found likely voters identifying as 74% white, and 26% non-white. If PPP's past success boils down to, what their director Tom Jensen called in 2013 "... a well informed but still not entirely empirical hunch," you have to wonder what less-than-empirical hunch led them to peg the 2016 electorate at 74% white, 26% nonwhite. These figures represent an even LESS racially diverse electorate than the one that showed up in the 2012 presidential election. And as I've already noted, the electorate has become MORE racially diverse in every presidential election since 1992. In other words, for the 2016 electorate to resemble PPP's racial composition, a major reversal of precedent is required.