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The New York Times has just released a poll conducted by the New York Times Upshot unit and Siena College of battleground states. This poll is a welcome addition to the garbage floating around out there. National polls, even when they are correct, are not instructive or predictive about the state of a presidential campaign because the national vote isn’t terribly relevant. This is the lede:

Despite low national approval ratings and the specter of impeachment, President Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his re-election, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.

CREDIT: New York Times

 

The top takeaway, in my opinion, is that Trump is strongest against his most likely opponent. My gut feeling is that Sanders can’t win the primary and that Joe Biden, for a multitude of reasons, will not win. Keep in mind that this chart is based on a likely voter screener.

But let’s put these into perspective with the state of play in 2016 and look at the polling of Trump vs Clinton and how that looked on election day.

CREDIT: RCP

CREDIT: RCP

CREDIT: RCP

 

CREDIT: RCP

 

CREDIT: RCP

 

CREDIT: RCP

By comparison, Trump is in better condition in most of these states than he was in polls conducted on election eve in 2016. But when you go to a Registered Voter screener the situation is more grim.

CREDIT: New York Times

 

This indicates that President Trump goes into this campaign with a solid base of support in all the states he won in 2016 and the base is stronger if his opponent is Elizabeth Warren.

Another significant piece of the story is looking at crosstabs of Trump versus likely Democrats in 2016 against how Trump did against Hillary Clinton with those same groups.

CREDIT: New York Times

This is where reality meets national polling.

Trump holds a huge lead over white voters without college. He improves on his numbers with black voters by 5-11 points. His standing with Hispanic voters improves from 1 to 11 points. With voters categorized as “other” his could lose 3 points in a match against Sanders but would gain between 1 and 8 points against the others.

Polls are, at best, an imperfect snapshot in time but this combination indicates that states that had been battleground states in 2016 may already be out of reach for the Democrats. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there will be new battleground states for them to lose.
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