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If the 2020 election were today, Trump would lose

Posted at 5:31 PM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-23 02:02:07-05

The 2020 election is 620 days away. Which, according to new state-by-state polling data from Gallup, is a very good thing for President Donald Trump.

The data paints a simple but ominous picture for Trump: If the presidential election were held today, he would almost certainly lose. Here’s the key insight from the Gallup data:

“Although much can change between now and Election Day 2020, a job approval rating of 50% or higher would presumably put Trump in good position to win a state in the presidential election. The 17 states with 50%+ approval ratings account for a combined total of 102 electoral votes. In contrast, the states in which Trump has an approval rating below 40% account for 201 electoral votes.

“In order to get to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, Trump would have to win all but one or two of the states in which his 2018 approval rating was between 41% and 49%.”

Which puts a pretty fine point on the challenge facing Trump and his 2020 campaign team between now and November 3. But to put an even FINER point on it — here are just a sampling of the states where Trump’s approval rating is currently below 49%: Texas (41%), Pennsylvania (42%), Michigan (42%) and Florida (43%). Those four states have 103 electoral votes between them. And Trump won ALL of them in 2016.

The fundamental problem that the Gallup data points to is that Trump’s approval rating is strongest in small-population states. Of the 10 states where Gallup found Trump’s approval was the highest in 2018, the one with the most electoral votes is Tennessee, with 11. Those 10 states have a combined 57 electoral votes. (The 10 states where Trump is the least popular in the Gallup numbers have a total of 173 electoral votes.)

Now. Approval rating is obviously not purely predictive of vote. After all, Trump won the 2016 election even though only 38% of voters viewed him favorably, according to exit polling. But if you are Trump, these numbers have to worry you. It suggests he has LOTS of work to do in the next 620 days.

The Point: Predicting whether Donald Trump can win is a dicey proposition, as he proved in 2016. But these poll numbers paint a relatively grim outlook for the incumbent to win a second term.

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