The ABC News/Washington Post numbers are the latest evidence Trump will have a tough time remaining in the White House beyond January 2021, GOP critics of the president said.
“He’s hemorrhaging Republicans and conservatives,” said John Weaver, who ran former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 campaign for the GOP nomination and may do so again if Kasich jumps in the race to challenge Trump.
In the 2016 general election, 81% of conservatives and 90% of Republicans voted for Trump, and he still received nearly 3 million fewer votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and won only because of 78,000 votes spread across three key states that tipped the Electoral College balance.
Erin Perrine, a deputy communications director at Trump’s reelection campaign, said Trump has little to fear. “Polling at this point in the election cycle is never an accurate prediction. President Trump holds historically high approval ratings within the Republican Party across numerous polls, with nearly 9 out of 10 Republicans supporting him in a recent ABC poll. When we lay out the clear successes under President Trump, he will undoubtedly win in 2020.”
One former White House official, though, disagreed and, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the numbers a “big, big, big” problem that could only be solved by the Democrats nominating an unpopular general election candidate.
The poll of 1,001 Americans conducted over four days last week confirmed Trump’s continued weakness with minority and well-educated voters in addition to the weakness among his own base. “In his own party, 15 percent of Republicans say they definitely will not support Trump for-election, as do 30 percent of conservatives. This soars to 61 percent of 18- to 39-year-olds, 62 percent of women, 64 percent of those with a postgraduate degree, 68 percent of urban residents, 81 percent of Hispanics and 86 percent of blacks,” the pollsters wrote.
Rick Tyler, who worked on the 2016 presidential primary campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said he tends to believe the poll results.
“At least that number of Republicans and conservatives can’t be happy that Trump is squandering his presidency and basing his reelection, so far, on a campaign of grievances instead of policies,” he said. “But given Trump has no real vision for the country, beyond what’s in it for him, and no capacity to bring about change in a constitutional republic by working well with others, his only real choice is to run as a weak, pathetic victim. Only the brainwashed or dead would cast their lots with him.”
Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party who has opposed Trump since 2015, said the new polling confirms what previous surveys have shown: There is an appetite for a serious primary challenge against Trump.
“In a primary, the percent voting against Trump will likely be higher as soft Trump supporters ― like the policy and the economy, dislike the tone and the character ― can send a message while still planning to vote for him if he’s re-nominated,” Cullen said. “This group would basically prefer to nominate someone else.”
So far, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is the only major candidate to challenge Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. Kasich is considering entering the race later this year, as is Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who visited New Hampshire last week and told a Saint Anselm College audience that he fears for the future of his party and the country under Trump.