Donald Trump Is Really Unpopular With General Election Voters


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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69 Responses

  1. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    “538 is a loser site. It’s just horrible. I went there today, and it’s terrible, My polls are the best polls ever. They’re amazing. Those guys think they know something about polls, and obviously don’t know anything. It’s pathetic.”Report

  2. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    “We’ve got an unpopular set of presidential candidates this year…”

    Someone put that line in a time capsule!Report

  3. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I keep thinking of Pauline Kael’s comments about being insulated from Richard Nixon voters by living in New York (that are frequently rehashed and unfairly misinterpreted all over again), because I have to say, I’m doing my damnedest to talk with some Trump supporters while I’m here in the states, and I’m meeting plenty of friendly Republicans, but have yet to come across anyone who likes him.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Well General Election voters is going to include more Democratic voters who are naturally inclined to dislike Trump. Along with everyone Trump has been isolating for the past few months.

    That being said, the Democratic establishment is clearly getting nervous about Bernie though more neutral pundits like Jonathan Bernstein think Sunday’s debate was his swan song even though he did well by all accounts (well Dylan Matthews at Vox put him as the winner.) I still kind of want to see the cranky outer borough New Yorker debate between Trump and Bernie.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Bernie’s going to need to get numbers higher than rock salt with constituencies other than youngsters and liberal white voters before he’s got much of a shot at the nomination.Report

  5. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    It’s not news yet – just highly conservative-agitating rumors, backed by ominous tweets and a plane-tracking site finding a charter from Alaska to Iowa – but they’re a-saying Palin (remember her?) may be about to endorse Trump.

  6. Avatar j r says:

    Here’s the question that I have: in a Trump-Clinton race, what does voter turnout look like?

    My assumption here is that lots of people would choose Hillary over Trump if forced to make that choice, but, outside of a relatively small core of supporters, not many people are really excited to vote for Hilary. She’s kind of the “oh well… I guess” candidate.

    Lots of people dislike Trump, but does hating a candidate get people to the polls? I can see a lot of those who would be Hilary voters, but who are not actual Hilary supporters, simply choosing to sit this one out.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I’m not a Trump supporter, but frankly, I’d vote for Satan before I ever voted for Clinton.

      Why vote for the side kick when you vote for the main man?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      My guess is that many Hispanic Americans are going to be very motivated to turn out for the polls if Trump wins along with most African-Americans.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon says:

        And a lot of women.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        That just begs the question: will people show up at the polls to vote against someone, even if that someone is Donald Trump?

        And even that assumes that Trump can’t or won’t pivot if he gets the nomination, an assumption in which I no longer have faith.

        Also, my sense is that Trump offends white liberals more than he offends black folks.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          If he pivots then the Trumpkins will go ballistic. Remember that Trumps base, such as it is, is entirely animated by the “no politics as usual” mantra. If Trump were to get the nomination somehow and then immediatly began indulging in “politics as usual” tacking to the center his base would revolt.

          This is, of course, moot as I remain unconvinced that Trump has any shot at all but we’ll see.

          To your larger question; yes, people get motivated to vote against people and things quite easily. A lot of partisan Democratic voters and Republican Voters are often voting against the opposing party rather than for their own. It’s highly common.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      @j-r I think you’ll see Trump get flattened by Clinton, and it will be even more lopsided than that 2012 election.

      It seems like everyone is doing the same thing they did in the lead up to 2012, but from the other side, which is falling into the trap of believing that the more passion someone has the more votes their given. In 2012 it was the assumption by conservatives that the polls didn’t matter, because they just hated Obama so much that surely that meant victory. Now I see people looking at Trump’s unelectable numbers and saying, “but the people who are behind him are just so passionate about him.”

      It’s pretty flawed reasoning. The only reason it gets any juice at all is because the people who cover the horserace are paid to make us talk about interesting things, regardless of their plausibility.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      @j-r , i think you’re underestimating Hillary’s popularity.

      She keeps getting dismissed as unappealing because she’s seen as cold or calculating. I think there are a lot of people who are disturbed by that characterization, and especially the way that characterization is being applied to a middle-aged woman. I think there’s a pretty strong group of voters who are very sympathetic to “bitchy resting face”.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Hillary Clinton sort of has the same sort of problem that Margaret Thatcher had in the United Kingdom in how they are perceived by a lot of people and coming across as unfeminine. There are big differences between the two though. Clinton is much more popular with self-identified feminists, especially if they happen to be Bombers, than Margaret Thatcher was in the United Kingdom, although that was because of economics. Self-identified British feminists tended to be further left than their American counterparts. Thatcher’s advantage over Clinton was that people did not perceive her as overtly cynical because Thatcher made her beliefs known to the public.Report

      • Avatar Autolukos says:

        I’m pretty sure she gets dismissed as unappealing because of things like the 42-50 favorability split, and the rest is just speculation on why those numbers exist.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          In general, it exists because Republicans really, really, really hate her. You look at favorables/unfavorables broken down by partisan affiliation. Now Obama has it almost as bad, but not quite.

          What helps Obama (and doesn’t help Hillary at the moment) is she’s not as popular with the base as Obama is. That offsets the ridiculously low GOP numbers to a degree.

          OTOH, once the primary is over….well, the Democrats still haven’t forgotten Nader and 8 years of Bush and the GOP is frankly terrifying. Expect her popularity numbers to rebound to more historically normal levels for a Democratic candidate (ie: the levels seen since about 1992) as soon as Sanders bows out and endorses Clinton.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        Am I the only person who finds the idea of a cold and calculating President pretty appealing?Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      I suspect Hillary’s intra-party support shoots up moments after Sanders concedes the nomination race.

      She’s a legitimately talented and smart woman who (while less good than Obama) would make a good president. That the party is currently flirting with a shiny new toy (despite his joke of a single-payer plan, and lack of any foreign policy chops) won’t make them stay home when the alternative is full GOP control at the national level.Report

  7. Avatar Glyph says:

    I really hope this is correct, because – listen, I know I goof around a lot, but real talk here.

    What would you think of this country, and its political process, if Trump were to somehow become President?

    Like, I think Joe Biden is a total clown, and I made jokes about moving to Canada if he became President; but even a President Biden would seem in some way still tethered to the reality of America, and the continuing validity of its existence as a concept.

    But if Trump were elected? “Change”, and “shaking up the system”, in the abstract, is good; but changing to someone so patently-ridiculous and blatantly-entertainment-personality-driven (and racist, and authoritarian) would shatter any remaining faith I have in my fellow citizens, or the democratic process. We might as well be electing the Bee Man from the Simpsons. It just wouldn’t seem real to me. The circuses are supposed to be for the people, not in the Oval Office itself.

    I have a high tolerance for the absurd, and generally take the “this too shall pass/we can survive anything” tack when it comes to politics; but I just can’t fit a “President Trump” into my mental model. And I’ve voted third-party more than once!

    Am I overreacting, or would that situation be as ludicrous and untenable as it looks to me?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Online, and in person if anybody asks, I argue that there is no future for the Trump coalition. That they will have a devoted, but minority, following. One that is mutually exclusive to building an electoral majority.

      In my head, I fear I’m wrong. Not that Trump himself will win, but that someone relse) will take that ball across the finish line.

      That’s not what I’m predicting. It seems more likely than not Trumpism is at its root a matter of personality, and that any attempt to reconcile that with what would be required to build a majority will end up like Rand Paul’s attempts to reconcile his father’s philosophy with a majority… alienating everybody.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Not that Trump himself will win, but that someone relse) will take that ball across the finish line.

        There was an analogy that I saw that I love: Trump showed the vulnerability in the software. He’s exploiting the hell out of it for his own amusement (lulz, as the kidz say). Next time, it’ll be someone exploiting it for reals.Report

        • Avatar Patrick says:

          That’s not a bad analogy…

          But I confess I don’t see how the vulnerability revealed by Trump can be exploited by someone who is deliberately trying to game the system. It takes an insider to do that.

          To damage the analogy beyond credibility, it’s a software vulnerability, and the folks who might actually want to exploit it for reals are all hardware people.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Got walker out of the race, didn’t it?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Yeah, that’s a good point. Trump can get away with saying half of the things he says because he already had a pulpit from which to say them.

            Someone who Trumps as a way to become a state representative/senator will be in the game for about 3 minutes. On the off chance that she makes it to the state house/senate, there’s no way she’s going to make it out of the minors.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I assume a President Trump reveals how little power the individual has in the presidency (which is not to say that the executive isn’t very powerful). That is, he gets in office and does pretty much what the guys before him have done, with small deviations in one direction or another. Congress pretty much ignores him, ’cause the Republicans won’t like him and the Democrats will treat him like a monster, and little gets done. In other words, it’ll be a Republican administration, not unlike what the administrations of other Republicans would look like, but less so because Congress will be recalcitrant.

      On the other hand, he’ll still look like a bigoted idiot personally, which won’t reflect well on the country I suppose.

      What I worry about is that he’d inspire more Trump-like candidates. I find the Republican Party abhorrent now, but Trump has shown that it could be worse, and if he were to win, it very likely would be. I imagine it’d be a disaster for the Democrats as well, as they’d have an influx of more conservative voters on the one hand, and their lack of a rational alternative would be even more pronounced, leaving them even less motivated.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        What I worry about is that he’d inspire more Trump-like candidates

        Yeah, I meant to get into this and forgot. It seems to me the worst part of a President Trump would be the fact that in retrospect, he might look good, compared to whatever came after. He’d be just the harbinger for an entirely-new kind of worse. It’d make me convinced that DEVO were right.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          This is part of why I think his even winning the nomination would be disastrous, regardless of the result of the election. It’s why I consider the “Get the popcorn” response from lefty circles to be wrong (and Chris’s to be right).Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Unintended hilarity caused by Neuromancer video game.
          (If you’re truly curious, ask me if you ever meet me in person).Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yup, totally overreacting.
      If Palin had become president, that would be a different story (not the least of which would have been the probable “on accident” assassination of a sitting president).
      You may have joked about leaving the country, I did have actual plans to do so.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Two extreme possibilities:
      1. Trump is exactly who he presents himself to be.

      2. Trump has a public persona and a private one. His private one is a dealmaker who will make deals and he knows that he needs everybody to get their proverbial beak wet to accomplish something and that there are a thousand ways to bribe a person.

      Which is worse?Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Option 1 is way worse. I’d much rather have another LBJ in the Oval Office than Biff Tannen.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        A) I think this campaign has revealed that Trump is exactly what it says on the tin. There’s no layers there. (Or if there are, it’s a Matroshkya doll, all the layers virtually identical)

        B) I think that deep down, no one is more surprised than Trump that Trumpeting has worked as well as it has over the past year. That’s why he always toyed around with electoral politics for nearly two decades, but never committed to anything – until now.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Number 2 has been the secret “Why I’m considering voting for Republican Candidate X” since Bush left office. I heard it both about McCain and Romney.

        That both secretly weren’t so partisan. They’d compromise, they were just tossing red meat out by the handfuls, that they’d be grown-ups if elected.

        So I firmly expect to hear it about Rubio or Cruz or Jeb or Trump, because that’s the dichotomy of the GOP election. You have to be crazy to win the primary, and then in the general election have to convince both the primary voters AND the non-primary voters that no matter what you say — you secretly agree with them. Ride the contradiction, you know?

        All politicians leave themselves wiggle room, but the Democrats don’t (as far as I can tell, and at least right now) have to play a game of contradictions. They don’t have to pretend to be foamingly xenophobic AND also open to sensible immigration reform.

        At least, I’ve never seen anyone justify voting for Obama or Hillary where a main point was “They actually believe X, despite saying Not X” on issue after issue.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          That’s not really what was the case with the stuff I saw, though.

          The arguments were that Romney/McCain were secretly more conservative than they pretended to be in public. They’ll secretly give in to the Religious Right! They secretly agree with Todd Akin!


          The arguments given by my Religious Fundy acquaintances are to warn people away from Trump because he’s a dealmaker and he’ll trade away things that they care about and he doesn’t care about abortion or gay marriage or anything.

          Indeed, I’m hard pressed to believe that Trump gives half a damn about abortion or SSM.

          Now, of course, there’s a hell of a lot more to being conservative than whether or not you agree with the Theocons (not that they’ll tell you that)… but if you define conservativism the way that the Theocons do, Trump’s doesn’t strike me as likely being more conservative than he presents himself (unlike Romney). He doesn’t strike me as being someone who might be able to speak with Theocons on their own terms (like McCain).

          On the Theocon front, anyway, Trump doesn’t strike me as having hidden agendas (but that shouldn’t be read as me saying that he’s secretly a grownup on these issues… it’s more that he’s fundamentally selfish and doesn’t give a crap about what other people do if it doesn’t personally affect him).Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Well you just put your finger on why I, if I had to pick a winner from the GOP clown car to be winner, would pick Trump.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            But strangely, some of the people supporting Trump seem to like him for his “I say what I think, f*ck you” attitude and the notion that he wouldn’t deal. He’d just “get things done” like in business. Like a CEO dictating to his underlings.

            The people I know who like him use variations of “He wouldn’t take X” where X is anything from “Congress having 1/3rd of the power” to “Whatever group I hate”. Just an angry, rampaging, Id that got things done and cut through red-tape and BS and basically played dictator-King.Report

        • Avatar nevermoor says:

          Oh god. Painful flashbacks to all the “Sure McCain just said something inflammatory/dishonest, but he’s still a great guy because he looked uncomfortable doing so” articles.


    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      As a critic of universal adult suffrage, I would consider a Trump-vs-Sanders general election to be the ultimate told-you-so card.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        But, I mean…look. I know you don’t agree with Sanders or want him elected, and that’s fine, but Sanders is still something more than a reality-show character that somehow is in the race, right?

        You’d have much to complain about in a “President Sanders” reality, but it would still appear to be “reality” to you, right? It would me. But a “President Trump” would concern me that I had broken with reality.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Your reality is entirely too prosaic.
          If, tomorrow, there was a animatronic gorilla climbing my office building, looking for me, I would not count that as being too outre to be reality.

          Perhaps if tomorrow Hitler invaded with tanks from another galaxy (tanks are rather heavy…)…Report