The real story in Trump's poll numbers isn't about his base. It's about his eye-popping negatives.

The real story in Trump's poll numbers isn't about his base. It's about his eye-popping negatives.
Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1148319797 WILKES-BARRE, PA - AUGUST 2, 2018: President Donald Trump with the "pointing index finger" gesture as he speaks at a campaign rally for Congressman Lou Barletta.

Donald Trump's polling is and always has been abysmal. Yet what journalists have routinely focused on is the fact that some 35%-40% of the country continues to stick by him no matter what he does. The fact that Trump can ridicule a war hero (even in death), demonstrate unmistakable signs of mental decay, continually spout blatantly racist and anti-Semitic tropes, disparage women, hail dictators, spurn allies, threaten the world order, single-handedly send the global financial markets into a death spiral, and yet maintain that bedrock base of support is the ultimate “man bites dog” story that journalists just can't resist.


But the overhyped narrative of "Trump does X, supporters still swoon" has obscured a trend that's getting more pronounced by the week: Trump's negatives are soaring on multiple issues and in a succession of polls and voting blocs.

Democratic strategist Bruce Gyory recently pointed out Trump's declining stock several weeks ago in smart piece declaring that "Trump should be afraid. Very very afraid."

First, there's been a noticeable uptick in Trump's disapproval ratings in multiple polls. A recent Fox News poll, for instance, showed his disapprovals rising from 50% to 56%, and an even more recent AP-NORC poll registered his disapproval rating at 62% (among his highest disapprovals to date in that poll). But as Gyory noted, Trump's Fox numbers revealed he was underwater in nearly every demographic except for white men:

64% among independents, 53% among men, 46% among white men, 53% of those older than 45, 61% among suburban women (59% of women overall), and 55% among whites with a college degree.

And here are Pew’s demographic disapproval numbers:

48% among whites, 55% among men, 79% among Hispanics, 58% among Catholics, 55% of those with some college but not a four year degree as well as 55% of those with a high school degree or less, 55% among seniors

But Trump has also been taking a beating on nearly every issue area other than the economy, where his numbers are still fairly underwhelming. Here are just a couple of notable top lines from recent polls:

  • 56% of Americans believe race relations have worsened since 2016.
  • 56% of voters say that Trump deserved either a great deal or some blame for the mass shootings sweeping America over the last few years (including 34% who gave Trump “a great deal of blame").

Even Trump's approval on the economy is sliding, with a recent WSJ/NBC News poll finding that just 49% of voters approve, while 46% disapprove—a marked decline from the 51%-41% edge he enjoyed in May.

All of these numbers are of a piece with several polls earlier this year showing 55%-plus of voters pledging to vote against Trump in 2020. "In the final analysis, Trump is on the verge of losing the country," Gyory wrote, which seems like a reasonably sound assessment of what the polls are telling us.

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