Polling Map: Where is Trump Most and Least Popular Ahead of the Midterms?

Posted: Aug 15, 2018 10:30 AM

Apropos of our recent posts on the generic Congressional ballot and the crucial importance of certain Senate races, I give you Morning Consult's state-by-state presidential approval ratings. As you click through and peruse the map -- previewed in the tweet below -- pay closest attention to President Trump's net standing in Arizona (even), Florida (+4), Indiana (+6), Missouri (+8), Montana (+4), Nevada (-7), North Dakota (+4), Tennessee (+17), and West Virginia (+30):

In the states playing host to the most competitive US Senate contests this fall, Trump is only underwater in one of them: Nevada, where Sen. Dean Heller is in a tough re-election dogfight.  The president is even or right-side-up in the remaining eight states, six of which are home to vulnerable Democrats.  As the GOP deploys Trump across the country between now and election day, expect to see him in a lot of green-shaded areas from the map above, including friendly districts and counties.  Republicans are relying on their sophisticated data operation to target specific areas where Trump's presence will serve as an asset to candidates, while steering him clear of jurisdictions where he'd be a drag on the party:

President Trump uses internal polling and approval rating data from the Republican National Committee to decide where to hold his midterm rallies — including one held just before Ohio's special election, a GOP official with knowledge of the data sharing told Axios. Why it matters: This is the first look inside the data that gives Trump part of his power over the primaries. He knows how to energize his Republican base, but pushing long-shot candidates over the finish line only works if he's in the right place and speaking to the right people. Republicans believe this data helped Troy Balderson achieve his narrow lead in the Ohio special election...“Once President Trump says ‘go’, we use RNC data to pinpoint the best place to hold a rally," Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, told Axios. "[W]e’re replicating it across the country as we head to November.”

And here's an intriguing nugget from the very end of Axios' story on this data-driven rally strategy, regarding the GOP's apparent (very tight) victory in Ohio's 12th Congressional District last week: "The RNC data predicted Balderson would win by 1% (48-47% over Danny O'Connor). His actual lead based on unofficial election returns: 0.8%."  That's a very impressive forecast, and the number behind it dictated the decision to send Trump to a pinpointed area of the district -- where improved Trump-friendly GOP turnout was both realistic and needed -- the weekend before the special election.  The RNC is also highlighting disproportionate economic gains in a number of states where House Republicans are locked in challenging re-election battles.  Meanwhile, in yesterday's item about Democrats' registration dip in Florida, we mentioned some of Sen. Bill Nelson's struggles to gain traction in this campaign.  We also highlighted Gov. Rick Scott's hard-earned improved standing among some Hispanic Floridians during an analysis of identity politics in Friday's weekly round-up piece.  Almost on cue, this new survey dropped, which must be worrying to Sunshine State Democrats.  Note that it was commissioned by a left-leaning group:

Sen. Bill Nelson holds a narrow 44-41 percent lead over Gov. Rick Scott among Latino voters in Florida’s Senate race, according to a new poll that’s raising fresh concerns among Democrats that the incumbent is in a dicey position with a core group of voters he needs to carry by bigger margins. The poll of 400 Florida Hispanics, commissioned by a coalition of Democratic-leaning Latino outreach groups, showed that Scott topped Nelson among Cuban-American voters, who tend to vote Republican, by 24 percentage points. But Nelson’s advantage over Scott among Puerto Ricans, who tend to vote Democrat, was smaller: 7 points...For Democrats, those numbers are a problem because a Republican who wins as much of the Hispanic vote as Scott is taking usually wins statewide in Florida. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the survey by 40-33 percent.

The article quotes anxious Democrats warning that time may be running out to improve these numbers, though President Trump's deep unpopularity among non-Cuban Latinos in Florida may be Democrats' ace in the hole. The GOP should hope that Scott has a plan in place to combat that inevitable line of attack against him, which could be potent.  I'll leave you with two new NRSC TV ads tying Democratic Senate nominees to unpopular figures within their own party, including a spot running against the Silver State headwinds noted above:

Parting thought: Using a controversial president's megaphone on behalf of candidates with tactical precision is hardly limited to the Republicans, even if the RNC's advanced data game is especially helpful in calibrating such decisions.  Recall that in his recent dump of public endorsements, former President Barack Obama conspicuously opted not to "help" a number of red state Democrats for whom Obama's explicit blessing would have been used against them.

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