Nov 5, 2018

Exclusive poll: Trump's 2020 woman problem

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll. Poll methodology; Note: Net favorability is the difference between the share of respondents who approve and disapprove; Chart reflects responses of registered voters. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump would lose the 2020 election against every woman mentioned as a possible Democratic opponent, according to an Axios poll by SurveyMonkey, aired first on HBO Sunday night.

Why it matters: Trump is underwater with women voters (64% of women view him unfavorably), and particularly among white suburban women — a group that will be critical in 2020. Look for Democrats to turn to their top 2020 female candidates after Tuesday’s election. A record number of women are running and a record number of women are expected to vote and win come Tuesday. 

Trump vs the superstars: Even though they're unlikely to run, both Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey would crush Trump if the election were held today, according to the poll conducted by SurveyMonkey.

  • And both women lead by double digits in favorability. Trump's favorability is just 40% among registered voters, per the poll, compared to 62% for Obama and 55% for Winfrey.

Trump vs. the rising stars: More probable but lesser-known candidates — Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) — would all beat Trump, too. 

  • But name recognition is a factor. A near-majority of registered voters said they didn't know enough about Harris, Klobuchar or Gillibrand to be able to rate them as favorable or unfavorable.
  • Still, of these three women, Harris would beat Trump most handily — by a 10-point margin — if the election were held today. She polls well with African American and white suburban women, but not with #NeverHillary independent registered voters.
  • Klobuchar polls best with white suburban women, and would beat Trump by 9 points.

Trump vs. the establishment: The two women who barely edge out Trump are Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is in a virtual tie with the president. 

  • The 2016 election results would remain. If they went head-t0-head again today, Clinton would still beat Trump in the popular vote by a similar same gap as 2016 (50% to 45% of the electorate).
  • While Democrats support Obama and Winfrey, 65% still feel favorable towards Clinton.
  • Of all the women in match-ups with Trump, Warren was least popular with white suburban women, but she polled well with millennials.

A huge caveat here: Only 40% of registered voters approve of Trump, per the poll, so most Democrats do well in head-to-head matchups with him, especially before the president has begun to pick them apart publicly.

  • A cautionary note: Warren, the woman struggling most against Trump right now, chose to release her genetic testing after the president called her "Pocahontas" for two years and questioned her claims of Native American heritage. So all 2020 hopefuls need to brace for the effect of Trump’s name calling and personal attacks. 

The big picture: Many of Trump's controversial moves — from child-separation policy at the Mexico border to the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh — have eroded his support among women voters. The #MeToo movement and record number of women running for office this year have also helped to empower women in the political sphere.

The bottom line: Women wield an incredible amount of voting power, but it still comes down to turnout. The two groups who the poll shows would overwhelmingly opt for anyone but Trump — African American women and millennials — are also two groups that tend to be less reliable in going to the polls.

Methodology: These data are from two surveys. The first was conducted October 24-28, 2018 among 3,411 adults, and has a modeled error estimate for the full sample of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The second was conducted October 28-30, 2018 among 6,497 adults, and has a modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. Full cross-tabs available here.

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