'The status quo is Donald Trump': Swing voters who hate both candidates but voted against Clinton in 2016 are now favoring Biden

'The status quo is Donald Trump': Swing voters who hate both candidates but voted against Clinton in 2016 are now favoring Biden
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the Meeting of the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 6, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain] / ABC News screenshot

In the United States, swing voters and independents often complain about the two-party system — and in 2016’s presidential election, some of them were critical of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton but ultimately decided to give Trump a chance. The Trump voters of four years ago ranged from his hardcore MAGA base (who are still true believers) to independents who had reservations about him but voted for him anyway. Journalist David Siders, in an article for Politico, focuses on the latter — reporting that in 2020, such voters are leaning toward former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

“President Donald Trump is losing a critical constituency: voters who see two choices on the ballot — and hate them both,” Siders writes. “Unlike in 2016, when a large group of voters who disliked both Trump and Hillary Clinton broke sharply for Trump, the opposite is happening now, according to public polling and private surveys conducted by Republicans and Democrats alike.”

Siders points to a Monmouth University poll released last week. That poll, Siders notes, looks much better for Biden than it does for Trump.

“Of the nearly 20% of voters who disliked both Clinton and Trump in 2016, Trump outperformed Clinton by about 17 percentage points, according to exit polls,” Siders explains. “Four years later, that same group — including a mix of Bernie Sanders supporters, other Democrats, disaffected Republicans and independents — strongly prefers Biden, the polling shows. The former vice president leads Trump by more than 40 percentage points among that group, which accounts for nearly a quarter of registered voters, according to a Monmouth University poll last week.”

Monmouth’s Patrick Murray says of such voters, “It’s a huge difference. That’s a group that if you don’t like either one of them, you will vote against the status quo. And in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton represented more of the status quo than Trump did. In this current election, the status quo is Donald Trump.”

Christopher Nicholas, a Pennsylvania-based GOP consultant, views Biden as a much stronger candidate than Clinton.

“It’s not 2016 anymore, OK?,” Nicholas told Politico. “There’s no way Joe Biden will be as bad a candidate as Hillary Clinton.”

There is a world of difference between Trump’s diehard MAGA base — which still adores him, especially in red states — and swing voters and independents who voted for him in 2016 despite their reservations. And according to Nicholas, the latter viewed Trump as the lesser of two evils — which is not how they see him now.

“People like that choose the devil they don’t know,” Nicholas told Politico. “What’s different in 2020? He’s the incumbent. So, he’s the devil you know.… That’s why those numbers have flipped so precipitously from ’16 to '20, and there’s nothing inherent you can do about that because Trump is the incumbent.”

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