First swing-state poll I’ve seen, I think, where Gary Johnson might be the difference. He polled nearly twice as well in Michigan recently but ended up pulling slightly more votes from Hillary there than he did from Trump. The pollster in this case doesn’t give hard numbers on his effect on Clinton and Trump but suggests that he’s taking more from the Republican than from the Democrat.
Remember, if Hillary holds on to states that have gone blue reliably in the last six elections (well, five out of six in the case of New Mexico), all she needs is Florida to clinch 270 electoral votes. Johnson costing Trump this one state could well cost him the presidency.
In a state known for close top-of-the-ticket races, Johnson’s relatively small support could have big consequences.
“Clinton is gaining her edge in two key areas – some defections from Trump to Johnson among white Republican and independent voters and extremely strong support for her among Hispanics (68%),” Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker wrote in a memo for the poll of 625 likely voters. Its error margin is 4 points…
But non-Hispanic whites, who account for about 66 percent of Florida’s voter rolls, are solidly with Trump. They favor him 55-31 percent in the survey.
The survey showed Clinton had slightly stronger support among fellow Democrats than Trump did among Republicans. However, Trump has a small 40-34 percent lead over Clinton among independents.
White voters are Trump’s base and Johnson polls better with them (eight percent) than he does overall, suggesting that he’s hurting Trump more than Clinton. He also takes 10 percent among indies, another pro-Trump group on balance. Before you get huffy about Johnson, though, note how huge the margin against Trump is among Hispanic voters here. Johnson pulls just two percent from that group; he’s an almost total nonfactor, yet Hillary leads by an eye-popping 68/20 spread. I think some conservatives might look at that and calculate that it’s not horrendously bad vis-a-vis Mitt Romney’s own poor performance with Latino voters nationally in 2012. Romney lost them 71/27 to Obama, yet still managed to come within one percent of winning Florida. All of that is true — but it omits the key detail that Romney did much better with Latinos in Florida than he did nationwide. From the 2012 state exit poll:
Romney was 19 points better than Trump among Hispanics in Florida, no doubt due to outsized support from right-leaning Cuban-Americans. He was also six points better than Trump currently is among whites. He still finished a point shy of victory. If Trump’s facing a giant disadvantage among Latinos in the state and he has Gary Johnson picking off pockets of anti-Trump white right-wingers, he’s got a big problem. See now why he’s keen on getting Marco Rubio to run again for Senate? With Rubio on the trail every day, campaigning not just for himself but for Trump, Trump stands a better chance of softening up opposition among right-wing Hispanic voters. He’s still going to get crushed among that group, but getting crushed “merely” by Obama/Romney margins makes the state winnable — especially since Florida has an unusually high number of “missing” white voters (for a swing state) who didn’t turn out for Romney in 2012 but might turn out for Trump. (That’s the good news for him. The bad news is that most of the other “missing” white voters nationwide are collected in red states that Trump’s going to win anyway.)
You look at those Florida numbers by racial demographic and it becomes even stranger that Trump would attack the judge in his Trump University case for being “Mexican.” Headlines like this don’t help him either. Maybe he figures, not necessarily wrongly, that this election is now being viewed as a zero-sum game by racial groups; demagoguing the judge may lose him points among Latinos but it’ll earn him some among whites, and whites are by far the bigger group. But who knows how strategically he thinks from moment to moment. He’s probably bashing the judge just because anyone who displeases him is “unfair” and anything is fair game towards someone who’s unfair. Here’s Mitch McConnell, who’s been all aboard the Trump train for nearly a month now, casually wondering if Republican incumbents might end up facing the same margins among Latinos this fall as they’ve faced among blacks since 1964. It won’t be quite that bad, but it doesn’t need to be to trigger a big blue wave.