WASHINGTON — A year out from the 2020 Election Day, there are some tough numbers for President Donald Trump in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The data suggest the pathway to re-election is currently very narrow with little margin for error for the president.
Overall, nearly half of all registered voters say they have already decided they will not vote for Trump next November, regardless of who the Democratic nominee is.
The poll finds 46 percent of registered voters say they are “certain to vote against Trump” in 2020. A far smaller number, 34 percent, say they are “certain to vote for Trump.” And 17 percent say they might vote for or against Trump depending on whom the Democrats nominate for president.
Do the math and the figures suggest that Trump needs to win nearly all of that “depends on the nominee” vote to win the popular vote in 2020.
And the numbers don’t look any better in the 11 “swing states” that will likely decide the presidential race — including Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. In those states, 46 percent of the registered voters also say they are “certain to vote against Trump.”
Those battlegrounds look similar in other ways as well — 35 percent of the registered voters in them say they are certain to vote for the president and, again, 17 percent say their vote depends on whom the Democrats nominate.
The larger message in this poll is how much of the electorate seems to be dug in, even before we know who is going to be on the ballot next fall. There simply isn’t a lot of room for movement in the data.
One of the clearest examples: women with a college degree. That group of voters seems locked in place against the president, with 67 percent already saying they are certain they will vote against the president. Only 22 percent of women with a degree say they certainly will vote for the president.
On the other side of the ledger, the president’s strongest support comes from men without a college degree — 40 percent of those registered voters say they are certain they will vote for Trump. Only 23 percent say they are certain to vote against him.
And if the 2020 election is going to boil down to that 17 percent of registered voters who are undecided, what do we know about them? The good news for Trump is that the data suggest they lean his way.
More than 40 percent of the undecided voters are men without a college degree. Next in line, 28 percent are women without a degree. The 2016 exit polls showed Trump won the majority of the voters who did not have a degree.
But the bad news for Trump remains the 46 percent of registered voters who say they are set against him. It’s never good to begin a campaign with nearly half of all voters saying they are certain they are voting against you, but in Trump’s case there’s a symmetry to the number.
Back in 2016 Trump won the presidency while capturing 46 percent of the vote. Much of it amounted to a part of the electorate that considered themselves to be “anybody but (Hillary) Clinton” voters. The 2020 vote is still a year off, but as of now it appears 46 percent of the electorate is already “anybody but Trump.”