Trump approval plummets in battleground states; he trails leading Democrats by double digits

More bleak news — at least if you're Trump: He has underwater poll numbers in many states he won in 2016

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published August 28, 2019 6:35PM (EDT)

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena on August 1, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Getty/Andrew Spear)
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena on August 1, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Getty/Andrew Spear)

President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have plunged in every key 2020 battleground state since he took office, including Republican strongholds like Texas and Georgia.

Trump’s approval rating fell from net-positive, meaning more people approve than disapprove, to net negative in nearly every battleground state, according to a Morning Consult tracking poll. His approval fell in Wisconsin from +3 to -14, in Michigan from +7 to -11, in Pennsylvania from +10 to -8, and in Florida from +22 to -1. 

Trump’s approval also plummeted from the positives to the negatives in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Arizona, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina. His approval fell in Georgia from +18 to +2 and in Texas from +21 to +6.

Trump campaign officials told Axios that along with the key states he won in 2016 — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — the president's re-election campaign is also targeting Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.

"We are trying to actively expand the map — aggressively," a campaign official told the outlet. "These 4 states in particular are all areas [Trump campaign manager Brad] Parscale is set on winning."

But Democrats say the new numbers show that Trump is not only vulnerable in purple states that he won but also in traditionally red states like Texas.

"The midterms were a strong indicator of the Dem energy in these states, particularly in Arizona, Florida and Texas, and set the groundwork for us to flip them," a Democratic strategist told Axios.

Polls suggest Trump could have trouble holding on to the states he won in 2016, much less adding new ones. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Trump losing by double digits to all top four Democratic contenders.

Trump trails former Vice President Joe Biden by 16 points, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 14 points, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 12 points, and California Sen. Kamala Harris by 11 points. All four Democrats are polling at over 50 percent while Trump is polling at 40 percent or lower in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg also leads Trump by nine points in the poll.

The polls in battleground states look bad for Trump as well. An EPIC-MRA poll published Wednesday showed him losing to all four top Democrats in Michigan. Biden leads Trump by 10 points in the poll, while Warren leads by 6 percent, Sanders leads by 4 percent, and Harris leads by 3 percent.

There has not been any recent polling in most other battleground states, but a June Quinnipiac poll showed Trump losing to all four candidates in Florida, a May Quinnipiac poll showed Trump trailing three of the candidates and tied with Harris in Pennsylvania, and a June Firehouse Strategies poll showed Trump trailing Biden, Sanders and Warren in Wisconsin.

Though Trump was able to win several swing states despite earning fewer votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012, it may be more difficult for him this time around to sell voters on the idea that he will boost the economy and resolve the immigration crisis.

Wednesday’s Quinnipiac poll showed that more Americans believe the economy is getting worse than getting better. The poll marked the first time that more voters said Trump’s policies are “hurting” the economy than said he is “helping.” Those numbers could get much worse if, as Trump’s chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has privately warned Republican donors, the U.S. economy enters a recession.

"Confidence in the economy is slipping. The number of people who think the economy is getting worse rose by double digits since June,” said Quinnipiac polling analyst Mary Snow. “And roughly four in 10 voters blame the president's policies, saying they are hurting the economy, the highest level since Trump took office."


By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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