Useful data for two reasons. One: Obviously everyone’s curious to know how the Trump vs. AOC battle is playing among Americans. This gives us some evidence, although not direct evidence. Two: It helps counter the misperceptions caused by that Axios story a few days ago, which was picked up and tweeted out by Trump himself. The Axios piece claimed that AOC was viewed favorably by just 22 percent and Ilhan Omar by a scant nine percent. But that was a poll of whites without a college degree, i.e. Trump’s base, not a poll of everyone. For a sense of how the country writ large views the Squad we had to wait for more numbers. That’s where YouGov comes in.
This is a poll of the general population. Verdict on the four, to quote “Chernobyl”: Not great, not terrible.
Ilhan Omar’s at 25/34, Rashida Tlaib at 24/31, and AOC at 33/41, all negative in net favorability but all in single digits. (The number who say they “don’t know” when asked about Ocasio-Cortez is smaller than it is for most Democratic presidential candidates tested in this same poll. Most people already have an opinion about her despite the fact that she’s been in Congress for all of six months.) The only Squad member with a positive rating is Ayanna Pressley at 22/18. Not coincidentally, she’s also the least well-known of the four, with 60 percent saying they don’t know her. She simply hasn’t thrown enough rhetorical grenades yet to get righties to hate her.
To put the Squad’s numbers in perspective, eyeball the table Ariel Edwards-Levy prepared comparing their favorability to that of other prominent Democrats. Net negative in the single digits is actually … pretty common for American politicians. Trump has spent the better part of the last two years at 43/51 or so in most polls, -8 on balance. That’s exactly where he’s at in this poll too, meaning that he has the same net (un)favorability as AOC. By comparison, Nancy Pelosi is at -12 and Mitch McConnell is at -26. Most Dem presidential candidates score a bit better than the Squad, but Beto O’Rourke, for instance, is at -7, the same as Tlaib. Bill de Blasio is at -20(!!). It may be that the Squad, or at least Ocasio-Cortez, draws more *intense* support or dislike than most other Dems even if their raw favorability is similar: As it turns out, only Bernie Sanders has a higher “very unfavorable” rating than AOC among presidential candidates and only he, Biden, Warren, and Harris have a higher “very favorable” number. But however you slice it, it’s not true that the four are hugely or weirdly unpopular. They shake out more or less the same way that any well-known politicians on either side do, if not a bit better than the average.
What does this mean for Trump’s strategy to pit himself against the four going forward, at least until Dems have chosen a nominee? Likely nothing. The numbers in that Axios poll showing that working-class whites strongly dislike the Squad may be all he needs to know. If he can get those people to turn out for him again in swing states, he wins — probably. Strategists are wringing their hands because strategists dislike uncertainty, and Trump lobbing a “go back where you came from” grenade at four minority congresswomen is packed with uncertainty in terms of how voters will react…
Suburban women and college-educated whites sidelined doubts about Trump and provided support crucial to his victory over Hillary Clinton. But many, fed up with the president’s antics and rhetoric, defected to the Democratic Party in midterm elections two years later. Senior Republican strategists are warning that Trump’s divisive attacks on the four female minority congressional Democrats could permanently exile these key voting blocs, costing the president reelection…
Granted the protection of anonymity … some said the president had committed an egregious, self-inflicted error that could haunt him all the way into next year. A veteran Republican consultant said this latest episode was a bigger political problem for Trump than his controversial response to a violent gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, two summers ago.
“It’s the worst thing he has done,” this GOP insider said. “It’s a blunder and the telling fact that not a single person in the White House has the ability to course correct … and keep it from being a week-long story sets up a terrible narrative.”
…but Trump knows, or thinks he knows, what his base likes and is convinced that he has the numbers to beat Democrats if he can get enough of his own fans out to the polls:
Trump’s associates predict more, not less, of the race-baiting madness…
Trump knows that in 2016, he won the white vote by 20+ points.
He hopes he can crank their turnout even higher, especially among older, white evangelicals. He knows most of those voters are unlikely to ditch him, no matter how offensive his comments.
He watches Fox News and knows AOC, in particular, is catnip to old, white voters, especially men. She is young, Hispanic, female and a democratic socialist — a 4-for-4 grievance magnet.
A new Reuters poll today finds Trump’s net approval up five points among Republicans since Sunday, when he first tweeted about the Squad. There’s no proof that the tweets caused the bounce, but (a) they’ve dominated the news this week and (b) Trump’s net approval among GOPers was already so high that it would take something extraordinary, one would think, to send it upward five whole points in the span of a few days. The spat with the Squad is pretty extraordinary. His poll bounce is probably a reaction to the tweets and the acidic condemnation he’s received from critics, and the fact that righties are rallying around him won’t be lost on him. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see a version of the MAGA hat with “Go Back to Africa” on it on sale in the Trump campaign store next year.
Here’s one of those critics laying into him yesterday on CNN. It’s, uh [checks notes] Anthony Scaramucci? Exit question: Fully 35 percent of the public thinks Pizzagate is definitely or probably true? That must mean the numbers among Republicans are way, way over 50 percent.