Swing State Surprises for Trump

Oct. 9, 2015 — Quinnipiac University again surveyed the presidential field with their “Swing State Poll” series, and while many of the results tell a familiar story about the numbers surrounding Donald Trump’s performance, the support question responses should be giving the leading Republican presidential candidate cause for concern. The data projects Trump leading the GOP nomination battle in all three of the states in the poll, but the favorable conclusions end with this point. The remaining results find the flamboyant international businessman’s political standing beginning to unravel.

During the Sept. 25 through Oct. 5 period, the Q-Poll simultaneously surveyed the important states of Florida (1,173 registered Florida voters; 461 likely Republican primary voters, 411 likely Democratic primary voters), Ohio (1,180 registered Ohio voters; 433 likely Republican primary voters, 396 likely Democratic primary voters), and Pennsylvania (1,049 registered Pennsylvania voters; 427 likely Republican primary voters, 442 likely Democratic primary voters).

In all three places, Trump posted preference numbers between 23 and 28 percent. Dr. Ben Carson sweeps the second position, in a consistent range from 16-18 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) finishes third in Florida (14 percent) and Pennsylvania (12 percent), while Gov. John Kasich places third (13 percent) in his native Ohio.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continues to experience major polling problems, here dropping to a campaign-low four percent in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. In his home state of Florida, he drops all the way to fourth position, registering only 12 percent within the Republican universe that twice spring boarded him to convincing victories in the Sunshine State governor’s race (1998, 2002).

Trump now finds himself losing every general election pairing in all three of these critical general election states. He actually fares best against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, but still loses to her in Florida by five points (41-46 percent), two in Pennsylvania (42-44 percent), and one in Ohio (42-43 percent). He loses the three states to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) from a deficit of three percentage points (Ohio; 41-44 percent) to five in both Pennsylvania and Florida (identical 41-46 percent margins). In comparison, Sanders loses to all other tested Republican candidates (Bush, Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Rubio) in each of the three swing states.

But, it’s against Vice President Joe Biden where Trump falters badly. In the trio of instances, he loses in ranges of 10-14 percentage points. Interestingly, Trump does best in Biden’s birth state (Pennsylvania), but still trails 40-50 percent. His worst performance is in Florida, where Biden leads 52-38 percent. In a noteworthy observation, the across-the-board Q-Poll numbers do suggest a Democratic skew in Florida while they project Republicans doing unusually well in Pennsylvania.

The Trump personal favorability numbers are even worse than his ballot test standing, however. In Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, his favorability lands only in the mid-30s, while his unfavorable rating touches the high 50s.

Hillary Clinton’s main problem has been her ratings on questions of trustworthiness, and these polls again reflect that. In all three states, between 59-61 percent of the respondents say they don’t trust her. For the first time, Trump’s numbers are getting close to Clinton’s on this question. In each state, 54 percent of the sampling sector said he is untrustworthy, as compared to either 37 or 38 percent who attest to the opposite. All of the other presidential candidates, irrespective of party affiliation, scored in positive territory on this question.

Trump also fares poorly regarding whether people believe he “cares about the needs and problems of people like you”. Here, an average of 60 percent in the three states say he does not. In contrast, ranging from 61-67 percent, these same respondents believe that Biden does care about them.

Trump must improve upon these base numbers if he expects to become a legitimate Republican front-runner. If he does not, then he can expect to continue losing popular support.

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