Thursday, April 22, 2021


I seem to be the only person who cares about this, but I want to see more polls assessing (a) Donald Trump's popularity among the general population and (b) how Americans would vote in 2024 if there were a rematch between Trump and Joe Biden. I think these questions matter because, while Trump's popularity among Republicans continues to be measured on a regular basis, we really don't know whether he's alienated the majority of Americans. The media and the polling world seem obsessed with Trump's standing among Republicans because, apparently, they still regard Republicans as the normative Americans. But you can't assess how America feels about Trump without asking the rest of us what we think.

John Bolton recently hired PEM Management Corporation to find out what we think. That wasn't his main goal, as we learned a couple of days ago:
John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser turned outspoken critic, has commissioned a new poll to illustrate that the former president’s grip on the Republican Party is loosening.

The poll, released on Tuesday morning, showed Trump’s “very favorable” numbers among Republican voters dropped 19 points since a separate poll from a different pollster taken in October 2020. It also showed that 56 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters would support a candidate other than Trump in the 2024 primary.

Bolton said his motivation for conducting the survey was to show that the Republican Party, contrary to what “the commentariat and among some politicians” say, had “not become a cult of personality.”

... As with much polling data, there was nuance to Bolton's numbers. While Trump’s “very favorable” rating plummeted with Republicans compared to the October 2020 New York Times/Siena College Research Institute poll, his “somewhat favorable” rating went up by 12 points. Combined, his total favorable rating dipped from 92 percent to 85 percent.

And while a majority of voters may support a candidate other than Trump in the 2024 primary, 44 percent said they would back the former president.... While Trump got 44 percent of the vote, the next closest were [Ron] DeSantis and [Nikki] Haley, each of whom got 9 percent.
Bolton commissioned this poll to take some of the luster off Trump, and he didn't succeed. But PEM also asked about the general election -- and Biden beat Trump, but only by a margin of 46.9% to 43.2%. That's smaller than Biden's 2020 popular-vote margin of victory.

This might be because the pool of respondents skewed slightly more Republican than the general public -- 36.3% Republican, 37% Democratic. (Gallup recently found that Democrats have a 9-point partisan advantage now -- 49%-40%.) Among the Bolton poll's respondents, 40.6% claimed to be conservative, 33.4% moderate, and 20.9% liberal. (Gallup's most recent numbers: 36% conservative, 35% moderate, 25% liberal.) In the Bolton poll, Trump's numbers are 43.3% favorable, 52.9% unfavorable -- about what Trump's numbers were throughout his presidency -- but Biden's numbers are lower than they are in most polls: 49.5% favorable, 47% unfavorable. The Bolton's poll respondents' self-reported 2020 votes are a bit to the right of the actual numbers: Biden 46.1%, Trump 44.0%. (Actual results: Biden 51.3%, Trump 46.8%.)

These numbers have a pro-GOP skew, but not by much; I'd like to hear from more experienced pollsters. In a rational country, the behavior of Trump and other Republicans would consign the party to the margins, and Democrats could look forward to a series of blowout elections. But we don't seem to live in that country.

Bolton wanted to demonstrate that Trump's grip on the GOP is tenuous, but the numbers suggest that Trump still rules his party -- and could rule America again.

No comments: