By Jim Ellis
Feb. 26, 2019 — Already beginning to project where the states might fall in the 2020 presidential election, the Gallup organization released a 50-state survey tracking study Friday that summarizes their cumulative research collected throughout the past year.
Gallup finds President Trump slightly improving his standing over a similar project conducted from their aggregate 2017 data. Meanwhile, the Civiqs polling organization projects, as do all other pollsters, that Trump’s job approval remains upside-down. In the good news category for the president, however, the latter organization finds that he is viewed more positively than either of the national political parties.
Nationally, Trump carries a 44:52 percent job approval ratio according to the Civiqs poll of registered voters (polled continually from Oct. 12, 2015-Feb. 23, 2019; 181,729 responses during that multi-year tracking period). The Democratic Party, however, posts a lesser 39:52 percent rating, while the Republican Party lags behind both the president and their political party counterpart. The GOP registers a poor 26:60 percent index.
But these numbers are not particularly unusual because the same trend among the three polling subjects has been consistent for many months. The more telling conclusion is that the deviation factor among the approval ratings has remained constant for well over a year, suggesting that the electorate continues locked in a highly polarized and negative status.
Following their practice from last year, Gallup again looked at how President Trump is viewed in each state. They find he tops 50 percent approval in a dozen states, five more than what was found for 2017. Trump drops below 40 percent favorable in 17 states, one more in comparison to their previous report.
Looking at the Electoral College and using the approval rating as a tool to gauge just how the president might stand electorally as we move into the national election cycle, Gallup sees his strongest states – the 12 where a majority registers his job approval rating as positive – providing him 102 electoral votes. But, in the states where he falls below 40 percent, their aggregate EV total produces 201 tallies against him.
Therefore, President Trump would need to gain 168 electoral votes realistically within the category of states that Gallup posts within the 40-49 percent approval range. According to these projections, the president’s biggest problem is his lagging performance in the Lone Star State of Texas. As the only mega state that decidedly trends Republican, Trump’s favorability rating is only 41:52 percent, according to the 5,898 individuals interviewed throughout the 12-month study.
Turning this state to a more positive position must be the Trump campaign’s first electoral goal. For any Republican, Texas must be carried to have a chance at winning the national election. Therefore, if the state’s 38 electoral votes are added to the Trump column, his national total increases to 140.
Several other states that are nearing 50 percent approval and that supported President Trump in 2016 are next on the conversion list. They all typically vote Republican in presidential elections. His Ohio (18 electoral votes) approval ratio is 48:48 percent. In Indiana (11 votes) he records a 48:47 percent index. Turning to Nebraska (five votes, including congressional district NE-2), he stands at 49:47 percent, while he records 49:45 percent in Louisiana (eight votes). Add all of these to his column and the Trump electoral vote number increases to 182.
Five more states where the president is currently viewed unfavorably but that voted for him in 2016 also must come his way. Florida (43:51 percent; 29 electoral votes); Georgia (44:52 percent; 16 votes); North Carolina (45:50 percent; 15 votes); Arizona (43:52 percent; 11 votes); and Iowa (45:51 percent; 6 votes) all must swing back for him to win re-election in November of 2020. Adding these to his column would bring his total to 259, leaving him 11 votes short of winning the national election.
Thus, the final leg of a Trump re-election plan would include again winning the 2nd Congressional District of Maine (one vote; Maine and Nebraska are the two states that choose to split their electoral votes) and then any one of the following states that he carried in 2016: Pennsylvania (42:54 percent; 20 electoral votes); Michigan (42:54 percent; 16 votes); or Wisconsin (42:53 percent; 10 votes). If he carries either Pennsylvania or Michigan, the necessity of carrying ME-2 is not a factor.
Therefore, it again appears we are headed to a very close 2020 presidential campaign. Of course, when the nomination phase runs its course and the Democrats choose their candidate, these projected state results will undoubtedly begin to change.