The one demographic you might have thought that would be safe for Donald Trump is white voters, particularly white male voters with limited education. It’s the demographic he panders to with dreary consistency. Yet recent polling across the board suggests Trump is losing traction among white voters, and he’s losing it where it counts, in critical battleground states.
These are the white voters who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and indicated as recently as last year that they would vote for him again in 2020. Obviously plenty of white voters (even some white male voters with little education) detest Donald Trump and always have. But there’s now polling data to support the notion that he’s losing ground with what you might think of as the outer edges of his base, the truly rabid mistakers of “their” for “there.”
This may have something to do with the number 208,440. That’s the number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 this year, as I write this. The revelation that Donald Trump thinks of people in the military as losers and suckers certainly didn’t help. His taped message to Bob Woodward that he’s underplaying coronavirus also hurt him. Nor did recent news that refugee women are being made to undergo involuntary hysterectomies improve his chances with anyone who wasn’t droolingly with him already. Whatever the reason, Trump is losing traction among white voters from whom he previously could have relied on plenty of support.
Let’s look at some numbers. In 2016 Trump won among white voters in Minnesota by 7 points. Right now he’s losing that same demographic by 2 points. That’s a 9 point drop in Minnesota — just among white voters.
In Wisconsin, Trump won among uneducated white women by 16 points, he is now losing among uneducated white women by 9 points. That’s a whopping 25 point drop in four years. In Pennsylvania, where Trump and Biden used to be tied, Trump is losing among non-college educated white voters. And so on.
One disadvantage normally enjoyed by incumbents among many in the white disaffected demographic is one Trump, paradoxically, cannot take advantage of. Trump won many votes in 2016 on the strength of his being an outsider. Nearly four years in the presidency has robbed him of any purported outsider status. He cannot play the rebel coming in to rescue a blighted America from a corrupt establishment. America today is more blighted and corrupt than it’s ever been, and Trump is the establishment.
Trump’s failure to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, his failure to get rid of ISIS, his endless games of golf when he promised he wouldn’t have time to play golf, his hours and hours of hate-tweeting and watching TV, his failure to release his taxes, and, of course, COVID-19, have all hurt him badly. The false bogeyman of Antifa doesn’t inspire as much fear or generate near enough anger and division as Trump and company might have hoped. Not enough, anyway, to make up for his lost ground among the only demographic he ever does anything for — white voters.
Recently, the FDA announced stricter guidelines for any early released COVID-19 vaccine, so Trump’s hope for an October Surprise may also be out the window. Short of a miracle, it is looking more and more like Trump is going to lose the election. But this is no time for complacency, he will win if we don’t vote. So vote for Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, not as if your lives depend on it, but because they factually do. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.