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Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said he is certain he can win in November by attracting blue-collar Democrats and drawing them to his populist campaign, as well as making key inroads in the blue and purple battlefields of the industrial Midwest. However, it would appear that as far as blue-collars are concerned (at least the Midwest battleground of Wisconsin), there is absolutely no evidence for any increased support for Trump in the polling thus far.
Moreover, there’s absolutely no indication that Trump has any “crossover” appeal to Democratic voters whatsoever and there are no signs he managed to appeal to independents, either. And while we’re at it, there are no signs he has more appeal to either Democrats or independents than his top two GOP rivals, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. In fact, it would appear that Trump is even less electable in the fall than the other two Republicans, definitely not more.
At some point in the future, all of this could easily change – polling this early about the November election can turn out to be a terrible predictor, particularly when it’s done before the parties’ nominees are even chosen. But the polling so far – both in Wisconsin and the national ones – offer little to no evidence for Trump’s prime electability argument.
You know, the one where he mentioned that he has a very special ability to grow the GOP coalition by siphoning off disaffected Democrats. Even though the polling is also a good reminder of how difficult it is for any candidate on either side to attract presidential voters from the other party, this wouldn’t be the first time Trump’s saying things that are downright ludicrous. Like the time he said that America needs a giant wall around it to prevent the immigrants from “flooding in” or when he said that a very small number of Mexican immigrants are good people while the rest are rapists, drug dealers and thieves.
Here’s what Trump said on the topic of electability on February 17:
“If I get the nomination, I will have more crossover votes than anybody that’s ever run for office. I will have Democrat votes. I will have independent votes. I will do tremendously with crossover. … I will have states that nobody ever thought of getting in terms of a Republican.”
As if! Trump was also fast to mention New York, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania as the states he is certain would support him and increase his “already great chance of winning.” Wisconsin wasn’t even on the list, but it seemed like a far more plausible state than New York for a Republican to win and has come closer to voting Republican for president than Michigan in recent cycles. Additionally, it has a much higher share than most states of white working-class voters, a group that Trump is wholeheartedly trying to lure into voting for him.
The question that logically arises at this point is this: is there any indication whatsoever that Trump is making inroads with either Democrats or independents in this notable blue-collar battleground? The longer answer is that when compared to other Republicans, Trump managed to gather a very small lead, as evident by a statewide poll released Thursday by the Marquette University Law School, which states that Trump gets 8.5% of the Democratic vote in a matchup with Hillary Clinton and 6.3% in a matchup with Bernie Sanders, which are fairly typical levels of crossover support in a presidential campaign in our partisan times.
However, Trump’s image among Democratic voters is measurably worse than Cruz or Rubio’s: almost nine in ten Wisconsin Democrats (about 86%) view Trump unfavorably, compared with 63% for Cruz and 57% for Rubio. As far as independent voters go, about two-thirds say they are “quite uncomfortable” with the idea of Trump as a president. 22% of them view him favorably while his negative rating is 66%, easily making him the worst of the GOP contenders.
Trump may be right in suggesting that flipping a few key, blue-leaning Great Lakes battlefields such as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan is a good way of recapturing the White House, but all polls so far suggest that he’s the Republican’s worst choice of doing so.
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