I’m tempted to say this is as low as he can go, but I would have said the same thing eight months ago when he was at 29/58.
Bear in mind, this is what the numbers look like with Hillary having barely laid a glove on him and just one prominent Super PAC ad having targeted him in the primary over things he’s said about women. The damage is almost entirely self-inflicted. Even if this really is rock bottom and therefore it’s all uphill from here, how does he get up that hill once Democrats start going to work on him?
It’s not just that the trendlines are terrible, it’s that they’ve been consistently terrible since he entered the race. But no one, me included, has paid much attention to that because we’ve all been marveling at Trump’s strength within the Republican race. He’s been leading the GOP primaries forever, therefore, the assumption goes, he must be a formidable candidate in November. Not really. The difference between Nixon’s “silent majority” and Trump’s “silent majority” is that Trump’s … isn’t actually a majority, especially when it comes to women. He’s underwater with men too — 36/58 — but that isn’t much worse than his numbers were with them when he first got into the race last summer and it’s also not much worse than how Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton do. Trump is net -22 with men versus -15 for Cruz and -20 for Hillary. Trump could easily erase that slight disadvantage in a general election. It’s impossible to imagine him erasing his disadvantage with women, though: Hillary’s at -3 net favorability compared to -47 for Trump. Even among Republican women, his favorable rating is now basically even at 49/46. He may soon slip underwater with them too, meaning lord knows what for the rest of the primaries. (The gender gap is already hurting him badly in Wisconsin against Cruz.) It’s women voters who are killing his chances, plain and simple.
One curious thing about the Gallup numbers is that his rating among women, although at an all-time low, hasn’t dipped much recently. You’d expect to see that if the silver-bullet explanation for Cruz’s surge in Wisconsin, that there’s a backlash happening among Republican women to the shots Trump has taken at Cruz’s wife, were true. You don’t. On the contrary, most of the recent damage to Trump’s numbers was done between January and February, when he and Cruz first started attacking each other. The deeper downturn in his numbers among women over the past two months may be a straightforward product of campaign-driven negative attacks by Cruz, not self-inflicted wounds by Trump.
As for whether there’s potential for an even deeper downturn, this new data from YouGov is interesting:
That same YouGov poll shows Trump still comfortably ahead nationally, 48/29 over Cruz (and 48/27 among women), though. And Nate Cohn, one of the electoral analysts at the NYT’s data site The Upshot, insists that there’s nothing surprising about Cruz surging in Wisconsin. Trump was always an underdog there due to demographics. If you’re a Trump fan, you can find good news in that — there’s no reason to think Trump has done anything lately that would singlehandedly sink him with Republican women, be it the tweets about Heidi Cruz, his abortion answer, or what have you. The flip side of that, though, is that his campaign writ large continues to drive his trendlines among women nationally further downward, which is probably going to catch up to him in the next two months of primary voting, on the convention floor in Cleveland, or in November.
Below you’ll find Ann Coulter repeating her theory that Trump is the only Republican who can win in the fall because only he can turn out the droves of disaffected white voters needed to offset the GOP’s disadvantage with minorities. I wrote about that a little last night — the theory doesn’t work if he’s alienating millions of white women or college-educated whites who went for Romney in 2012 in the process — but here’s another way of looking at it via the Democratic polling firm Democracy Corps:
What they’re trying to measure there is how high turnout would need to be among Trump’s core base of white men without a college degree to offset Hillary’s expected heavy advantages among various other major demographics. The answer is … 100 percent. Basically every last non-college-educated white male who’s registered to vote in the United States would need to show up at the polls in November, and that would merely bring the race into a dead heat. Trump would still have to overperform with a few other key groups. That’s what he’s up against this fall if nothing changes.