One intriguing subplot to the post-convention polls has been that some attractive purple states like Pennsylvania and New Hampshire have broken sharply blue while others like Florida and Ohio have remained close-ish, with Clinton out to a comfortable but hardly decisive 4-5 point lead. That’s been a minor comfort to Trump’s campaign over the last few hard weeks. With Ohio and Florida within striking distance, he could focus on solving the major problem he’s having right now in Pennsylvania.
If you believe this new survey from Monmouth, though, Florida has begun to go sideways too. Not only does Clinton now lead by nine, she’s at 48 percent in a four-way race, her best number yet in the state and several points better than she does nationally in a four-way race. Monmouth is a highly regarded pollster too, rated A+ by FiveThirtyEight. Which raises an important question: What are we going to blog about until November now that the election’s no longer remotely suspenseful?
Clinton has an overwhelming lead among Hispanic, black and Asian voters who make up about one-third of the electorate, garnering 69% of this group’s vote to 19% for Trump. Trump leads among white voters by 51% to 37%, but there is a significant gender split. Among white men, Trump has a 64% to 24% advantage. Among white women, Clinton leads by 49% to 39%. There is no difference by educational attainment, with Trump ahead among white voters without a college degree (51% to 39%) as well as white college graduates (50% to 36%).
Clinton’s 50 point lead among non-white voters is similar to Barack Obama’s advantage over Mitt Romney with this group four years ago (49 points according to the 2012 Florida exit poll). Trump’s 14 point lead among white voters is smaller than Romney’s 24 point win with this group. This difference is due mainly to a widening gender gap. Trump is doing somewhat better than Romney did among white men (+40 points compared to +32), but much worse among white women (-10 points compared to +17).
A week ago, Quinnipiac found Florida dead even at 43 thanks to Trump’s superior performance among white voters. The same poll had Clinton up big in Pennsylvania thanks to her lead there among white college graduates, but there was no similar educational split among whites in Florida. Trump led across educational strata. Interestingly, Monmouth is seeing the same thing here — Trump leads among whites with and without a college diploma — but he trails badly overall thanks to Hillary cutting deeply into his support among white women. Trump has to win whites overwhelmingly to offset Clinton’s enormous lead among nonwhites. The more secondary demographic criteria come into play to dilute that support (education, gender, suburbanites, etc), the more trouble he’s in. As a related example, ABC finds Trump leading nationally by a mammoth 68/27 margin among white men without a college degree, the sort of lead that would give him a legit chance of winning if he could replicate Romney’s numbers with other groups. But he can’t: Among college-educated white women, a group Romney won narrowly, Trump trails Hillary by 20 points. I said last week somewhere that all Republican nominees are niche candidates insofar as they rely heavily on whites but Trump is a niche-within-a-niche candidate because he relies extremely heavily on only certain white subgroups. That’s truer than ever, and it’s the path to electoral ruin.
The other major distinction between Monmouth’s numbers and Quinnipiac’s is the partisan split. Quinnipiac had Trump winning Republicans 90/5 in Florida versus Clinton winning Democrats 86/7. There were more Dems crossing over for him than there were Republicans crossing over for her. Monmouth has that upside down: Clinton wins Dems 92/4 while Trump wins Republicans 79/12, putting her in double digits here among Trump’s own party. Independents, meanwhile, are a bloodbath. Clinton wins them 47/30 in Monmouth’s survey versus a 37/36 lead in Quinnipiac’s. Either one of these polls is off or something has shifted dramatically in Florida over the past week. Worth noting, though: Monmouth’s sample is actually more favorable to Trump than it might have been. They have it 35R/30D/35I; the exit poll in 2012 was 35D/33R/33I. If the electorate is as blue as that this fall, presumably Clinton will win by double digits.
While we’re chattering about polls, here’s another new one out today from left-leaning PPP. Trump is clinging to a six-point lead … in Texas:
A Democratic victory in Texas this year remains a stretch but within the numbers there are signs of Democrats being positioned to become seriously competitive there in the years ahead. Trump’s lead is based entirely on his holding a 63-33 advantage among seniors. With voters under 65, Clinton leads him 49-45. And when you look just specifically at voters under 45, Clinton leads Trump 60-35. Older voters are overwhelmingly responsible for the Republican advantage in Texas, and generational change is likely to help Democrats become more competitive.
A big piece of that generational change is the increasing racial diversity of the electorate in Texas. Trump has a 69/25 lead with white voters but the reason the state’s so competitive overall is that among non-white voters Clinton has a 73-21 lead, including a 68-27 edge with the state’s booming Hispanic population.
Texas isn’t a purple state yet, but it’s getting purpler. And a niche-within-a-niche candidate is poised to make it purpler this year than it should be. Texas may end up being the starkest example of a state Trump wins only because there are so many older, white staunchly Republican voters there that he simply can’t give enough votes away to lose. We’ll find out.
Via BuzzFeed, here’s Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo wondering how the race would look any different if Trump was actively trying to lose. Relatedly, Trump will be campaigning in deep blue Michigan this Friday while Mike Pence is in deep blue New Mexico today. Why they’re wasting time in places like that instead of spending it in Florida, I have no idea. In lieu of an exit question, note that Marco Rubio remains five points ahead of his Democratic Senate challenger in Monmouth’s poll despite the fact that the state increasingly looks like a blowout for Hillary. He’s running 14 points ahead of Trump right now, defying the conventional wisdom about how much damage a Democratic landslide might do to Senate candidates. I assume that’s because Rubio’s name recognition at home is unusually high thanks to his presidential campaign, as well as because he clashed sharply with Trump on the trail in March, which distinguishes him sharply from the nominee in voters’ minds. There isn’t a lot of overlap between “Trump Republicans” and “Rubio Republicans,” so if you’re a righty in Florida who prefers Hillary or a third-party candidate to Trump, it’s probably easier to switch and support Rubio for Senate than it is for, say, a New Hampshire Republican who dislikes Trump to switch for Ayotte. That’ll be sweet revenge of a sort for Rubio if he hangs on while Trump gets wiped out. Having been humiliated by Trump in the Florida primary and dismissed this past spring as the guy who can’t win anywhere, he may end up proving himself the more durable candidate in a swing-state general election. Just as his fans claimed he’d be during the primaries.