White voters are abandoning Trump for a surprising reason

Instead, the driving factor for Trump’s collapse appears to be race. Polls have consistently shown that Americans disapprove of his response to protests of police violence and believe that he has worsened race relations. In the New York Times/Siena poll, race relations (33 percent) and the protests (29 percent) are the only areas where issue approval lags behind his overall vote preference. In the Harvard/Harris poll, the same two areas earn Trump his worst marks of any issue, though they are still slightly higher than his expected vote…

But why? Perhaps it’s just a matter of what issues are most important to voters right now. There’s always been a sizable contingent of reluctant or conflicted Trump supporters. In 2016 exit polls, only 35 percent of voters said Trump had the temperament to be president, but he won 46 percent of the popular vote. These voters are a familiar staple of news coverage too—the ones who preface their support with “I don’t always like the way he phrases it” or “I wish he would tone it down a little, but …” Until now, these voters may have been able to overlook Trump’s other flaws because he was getting done things they liked. But the pandemic has frozen progress on nearly all of Trump’s policy priorities, insofar as they were still alive anyway. Even if voters approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, it’s no longer much of a positive benefit. And the profusion of news coverage has made issues of race impossible to ignore.

Alternatively, perhaps voters are shifting not just their priorities but their views.