From now until Election Day, Yahoo News and YouGov will deliver weekly reports on how sentiment is shifting among key groups of voters in the final phase of the 2020 presidential campaign.
One of the main reasons Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election is voters who disapproved of both Trump and his rival, Hillary Clinton, broke for Trump by about 18 percentage points.
“In the abstract, it’s something of a statistical quirk,” the Washington Post’s Philip Bump recently explained. “In practice, though, it might have given Trump the White House.”
In contrast, Trump’s party lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections due mainly to large numbers of voters who cast ballots for Trump just two years earlier switched sides and voted for Democrats — particularly college-educated white women.
Now, in a troubling sign for Trump’s 2020 chances, all three groups — voters who disapprove of both candidates; voters who cast ballots for different parties in 2016 and 2018; and college-educated white women — are moving in Joe Biden’s direction.
By partnering with YouGov to track the views of 13 key demographic groups (suburban voters, Latino voters, white seniors) across nine important metrics (vote intention, Trump approval, direction of the country), Yahoo News has identified a significant shift away from Trump over the last week — a period in which the president delivered a poorly received debate performance and was hospitalized with COVID-19.
Consider the following chart, which compares the results of the Sept. 25 Yahoo News/YouGov survey of 2,566 registered voters to the results of the Oct. 5 Yahoo News/YouGov survey of 3,970 U.S. registered voters:
In short order, Biden added 10 points to his lead among voters who dislike both candidates; 12 points to his lead among white-college educated women; and 16 points to his lead among 2016-2018 swing voters.
Among those who disapprove of both candidates, nearly all of Biden’s expanded margin came from voters abandoning Trump, whose support in this group fell by half (from 24 percent to 12 percent) between late September and early October. Where did Trump’s former supporters go? Half now say they will back third-party candidates instead; half say they’re undecided. This trend does not bode well for Trump.