Of all the would-be purple states on the board this year, Wisconsin was always the furthest reach for Trump. It hasn’t gone red in a presidential election since Reagan’s 1984 landslide (although Dubya came thisclose twice to winning it). Ted Cruz beat him there in the primary with Scott Walker’s help. Local conservative talk radio, unlike national conservative talk radio, is Trump-skeptical. And of course Wisconsin is Paul Ryan country. You saw how hospitable his home district was to a Trump-style candidate in WI-01 last night.
The good news for Republicans, then, is that nothing much is lost from this gruesome Marquette poll for the simple reason that Wisconsin was always destined to be gravy or bust. Trump will have a shot at Cheeseland if and only if he’s strong enough in Ohio and Pennsylvania to win those states outright. And if he wins those two outright, chances are he won’t need Wisconsin anyway to get to 270.
A new Marquette Law School Poll finds Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with support from 46 percent of Wisconsin registered voters and Republican candidate Donald Trump with support from 36 percent in a head-to-head presidential matchup. Sixteen percent say they will vote for neither candidate, will not vote, or don’t know how they will vote…
Among likely voters, i.e., those who say they are certain they will vote in November, Clinton is supported by 52 percent and Trump by 37 percent in the new poll, with 10 percent saying they will support neither candidate. In July, likely voters gave Clinton 45 percent support, Trump 41 percent and 14 percent said they would vote for neither…
Asked if a candidate has the qualifications to be president, 58 percent say Clinton does, while 41 percent say she does not. Twenty-nine percent say Trump has the qualifications to be president, while 68 percent say he does not. In July, 56 percent described Clinton as qualified while 42 percent did not and 32 percent said Trump had the qualifications to be president and 67 percent said that he did not…
When third-party candidates are included in the vote question, 75 percent of Republicans say they will vote for Trump, 6 percent for Clinton, 8 percent for Johnson and 2 percent for Stein, with 10 percent saying they would vote for none of these candidates, would not vote or don’t know. Among Democrats, 85 percent back Clinton, 2 percent Trump, 5 percent Johnson, and 4 percent Stein, while 4 percent support none, wouldn’t vote or don’t know.
Four noteworthy numbers there. First and most obvious is the monthly change. In July, Clinton led by four. A month later, the race is all but over with Clinton up 15. Second, note that Hillary improves dramatically as you move from registered voters, where she’s at 46, to likely voters, where she’s at 52(!). I know I’ve made this point before but that’s not “supposed to” happen in polling of presidential elections. Typically the pool of likely voters is a bit redder than the pool of registered ones. Hillary’s picking up votes among high-turnout voters, in all likelihood, because she’s doing much better with college-educated whites this year than Democrats typically do. If the white vote for Trump were monolithic, he’d be competitive in many races. But there’s an educational divide, which may be a proxy for a class divide, that’s killing him. If your opponent’s piling up votes from nonwhites and cutting deeply into your white base among more upscale voters, you can imagine how it’s going to go on Election Day.
Third, note that the Republican nominee is at 37 percent in a four-way race here and at 36 percent head-to-head, then remind yourself that Wisconsin is home to (a) the head of the RNC, (b) the Republican Speaker of the House, and (c) a Republican governor who’s won three ferociously contested elections by the left. You’ve got fully 16 percent of the electorate saying they simply will not vote if forced to choose between Trump and Clinton, and given that Hillary has 46 percent in the bank, you have to assume that most of that 16 percent is coming from Republicans. That’s unimaginably poor for a GOP nominee. Finally, and relatedly, note that Clinton has 85 percent of Democrats locked up in a four-way race whereas Trump takes just 75 percent of Republicans. One in four voters in his own party would rather vote for Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill farking Stein, or some other option (won’t vote/don’t know yet) than support a Republican candidate for president with nearly universal name recognition. Why is that? Why is Wisconsin so hostile to Trump? Nate Cohn tried to answer the question before the primary this year and identified some familiar demographic explanations (Wisconsin Republicans are relatively well-educated) and some less familiar ones (Wisconsin has many Protestants of northern European ancestry, who, for whatever odd reason — cultural “niceness”? — don’t digest Trump well). Whatever the truth might be, here’s another eye-popping number from Marquette’s data: Statewide, Paul Ryan’s favorable rating among Republicans is … 80/12, which should put in perspective just how unlikely a Paul Nehlen victory was last night. It may be that, to Republicans generally and Wisconsin Republicans specifically, the Trump-versus-Ryan saga has become a zero-sum game in which the GOP belongs to one of them but can’t belong to both. Wisconsin Republicans appear to have made their decision about whom it should belong to.
By the way, speaking of Hillary piling up nonwhite votes, here’s a … noteworthy finding by Harry Enten after reviewing some of the latest national polls:
I used to think Trump was a cinch to expand on Romney’s share of the black vote, partly because he has the advantage of not running against the first black president, partly because he’s not a doctrinaire small-government Republican, and partly because TV viewers of all races know him and like him from “The Apprentice.” In reality, the guy is pulling two percent, worse than Green Party asterisk Stein across three separate polls. That’s so absurd, it almost qualifies as an achievement. As I write this, The Hill is running a story about the RNC adding black staffers for outreach in hopes of increasing its share of the black vote. Three percent or bust, I guess.
Exit question via John McCormack: Is it really true that Ryan’s mega-landslide last night suggests that Trumpism is more of a celebrity personality cult than a political movement? It’s a huge win, to be sure, but I don’t know how many lessons I’m ready to draw about national currents from a well-liked Speaker winning his home district.