Gulp: Trump Trailing Biden in...Texas?

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Posted: Jun 07, 2019 10:25 AM
Gulp: Trump Trailing Biden in...Texas?

Source: Screenshot via C-SPAN

This polling nugget has been all the rage on social media and certain corners of cable news this week, so it's probably worth addressing, even if we do so with deep and warranted skepticism.  Quinnipiac's latest statewide survey of Texas shows President Trump's job approval rating dipping just underwater at (48/49), and trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in a hypothetical general election match-up by four percentage points.  I'm somewhat doubtful, but here's what the poll shows:


It also registers Trump's approval rating in the Lone Star State lagging behind other statewide Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn, who's up for re-election next year:


Texas has always been Democrats' white whale, and despite facing one electoral loss after another in the state, national party operatives believe demographic shifts will eventually lead to a victory there, effectively burying the GOP.  Beto O'Rourke surfed a 'blue wave' cycle and an astounding amount of campaign spending to give Ted Cruz a real scare last year, only falling by three points.  Could an unpopular Republican president actually lose to someone like Biden?   Perhaps, but Texas is still a pretty conservative place, so I'd still put my money on Trump.  For what it's worth, the incumbent leads all the other Democrats named in the Q-poll head-to-head, but not by margins anyone would describe as comfortable.  All in all, polling this far out is borderline worthless, and Texas remains a red-tinted state.  But before you dismiss out of hand the possibility that Trump might be vulnerable down there, Allahpundit offers some context:

This isn’t the first poll to show Texas competitive, or even the first to show Biden ahead. Emerson had him leading Trump 50/49 there a month ago...Trump’s job approval in Texas has been chronically lukewarm. In all five Quinnipiac polls of the state dating back to last April, he’s been no better than 47/47 there. Today Quinnipiac has him at 48/49. Morning Consult has him at 49/46. Texas just isn’t Trump country the way the deep south or heartland states like Wyoming are...Although Quinnipiac didn’t ask specifically about the new tariffs on Mexico, this poll was conducted mostly after Trump announced them. (The announcement was made on May 31, the survey was in the field from May 29-June 4.) Texas will likely suffer more economically than any other state if the tariffs take effect, which is why even Cruz is pounding the table about them. The numbers on Biden vs. Trump may be an early warning sign to POTUS not to mess with Texas.

Sure enough, Mitch McConnell told me in our exclusive interview that there's a distinct "lack of enthusiasm" among his caucus over Trump's tariffs gambit -- and when someone like Ted Cruz is ratcheting up his rhetoric against the president's proposal ("there's no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes"), the underlying political dynamics merit monitoring.  While I suspect that Texans are probably inclined to eventually "come home" to Trump, the state-level numbers that should be more alarming to Team Trump are these match-ups out of Michigan, a key piece of Trump's 2016 puzzle:

While most Michigan voters don’t want Congress to impeach President Donald Trump, a majority said they would vote against him if the election were held today, according to a new statewide poll. Both former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont showed 12-point margins over the first-term Republican incumbent in a Glengariff Group public opinion survey of 600 likely voters released to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Local 4). Three other Democrats included in the poll were preferred over Trump by less substantial margins. Three years after he became the first Republican to win the state since 1988, fewer than 36% percent of Michigan voters say they would vote to re-elect Trump, compared with more than 51% who said they plan to vote for someone new.

Trump is behind Biden and Sanders by a dozen points, Buttigieg by six, Warren by four, and Harris by three.  While all the usual disclaimers very much apply, and while the meaningful portion of the 2020 cycle is still a year away, any incumbent with a hard re-elect in the mid-30's in a battleground state like should view that number as a red flag.  Trump is grousing about the media, which has been historically biased against him, but does this sort of complaint swing anyone in his direction?  


I'll leave you with a fresh CNN poll showing that in spite of his upside-down approval rating and shaky re-election foundation, most Americans expect Trump to secure a second term:


That outcome would surely be a grave disappointment to Speaker Pelosi, who reportedly told fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting that she'd like to see Trump imprisoned.  I'm so old that I remember when the political media expressed its collective horror at partisans fantasizing about locking up their opponents: