September 24th, 2020


If Donald Trump wins in 2016, remember this one poll number

Aaron Blake

By Aaron Blake The Washington Post

Published August 15, 2016

The Closing of the American Mouth

Donald Trump is struggling in the polls, and he doesn't seem to have any desire to change anything. He said Thursday that he'll "just keep doing the same thing I'm doing right now."

"At the end it's either going to work or I'm going to, you know - I'm going to have a very, very nice long vacation," he added. And indeed, some are starting to predict that Trump is due for a "very, very nice long vacation" after Nov. 8.

But if he's not - and if he's able to keep it close and maybe even win - remember this poll number.

Bloomberg in its new survey attempted to approximate Trump's view of the state of affairs in the United States, and it did the same for Clinton.

Here's the Trump description (which didn't name him but is apparent):

"The U.S. is in a dark and dangerous place, with threats from overseas and within our borders."

And here's the Clinton description:

"The U.S. is in a strong position for progress on the economy and national security."

Given those two options, 56 percent of likely 2016 voters picked the Trump version, and 40 percent picked the Clinton version. This, again, is an approximation of the messages that undergird Trump's and Clinton's campaigns. Neither summation is perfect, but they do pretty accurately describe the picture each candidate is painting of where the nation stands heading into the 2016 election. Clinton says the economy is getting better and we need steady, strong leadership to keep progressing. Trump says everything is terrible and our very way of life is threatened or even under attack.

The latter message appears to be more in line with voters, at least according to this one poll.

Despite this, of course, Trump continues to struggle mightily in the polls. That's in large part because he's an extraordinarily flawed messenger. He trails Clinton on the vast majority of issues and attributes, up to and including readiness to be president. His image is also terrible, with as few as 3 in 10 registered voters saying they like the GOP nominee.

And yet, some polling still shows him close. The very same Bloomberg poll had him within three points if you don't include "leaners" -- people who don't fully support a candidate but lean toward one or the other. And the Los Angeles Times/USC tracking poll has Trump within two.

Previous polls showed him trailing by as much as double digits.

Part of the reason Trump might very well keep it close is simply because of rank partisanship and the fact that a majority of Americans don't like his opponent, either. But another reason he's not totally out of the game is that Americans are generally more animated by pessimism than progress. Clinton, by virtue of being in the party of the current occupant of the White House, can't help be focused more on the positive. But Trump can - and does - tell us that the world is crumbling around us.

And if a strong majority of Americans continue to view the United States as a "dark and dangerous" place in November, Trump's prospects may brighten.


07/19/16 4 brutal poll numbers greet Clinton at convention
07/19/16 The continuing political decline of Hillary Clinton
07/11/16 In bashing Donald Trump, some say Justice Ginsburg just crossed an important line
07/06/16 'Extremely careless,' and 7 other big quotes from the FBI's findings on Clinton's emails
06/20/16 How the Orlando attack showed the potential of an October Surprise
05/06/16 Donald Trump's day of many contradictions
03/10/16 How Donald Trump can still be stopped, according to the folks in charge of doing it
03/07/16 Winners and losers from 'Super Saturday'
03/03/16 Colbert nails it --- Christie looked like 'the best man at a wedding he didn't believe in'
02/10/16 Don't assume Hillary will start winning again after New Hampshire
02/08/16 Winners and losers from the New Hampshire Republican debate