For all the tempest over voter turnout, the real problem for Trump in 2020 was independent voters. Trump went from a 4-point margin of victory among independents in 2016 (46 percent to 42 percent) to a 13-point loss in 2020 (41 percent to 54 percent). Even if the 2020 exit polling underestimated Trump’s numbers (and they look to be about 3-4 points off), the swing away from Trump is unmistakable.
Throughout 2020 Trump held his own with independent voters — running a bit behind, but not by an insurmountable degree. Since losing and the riots, his support has eroded much further. Morning Consult has independents at 60 percent unfavorable toward Trump. YouGov, which prior to the election had independents much more favorable to Trump than most polls, now shows him at 49 percent approval among independents.
Trump’s sour grapes and behavior surrounding the Capitol riots are viewed most unfavorably by independents. Independent voters think Biden legitimately won (59 percent, YouGov) and Trump should concede (69 percent). Barring Trump from running for office is more popular than not by 52 percent to 37 percent in Morning Consult and 48 percent to 44 percent in YouGov.