A sobering poll for Democrats
Published November 7, 2019
By Thomas Mills
Democrats in North Carolina who think they’re about to sail to victory next November should think again. The New York Times has an in-depth poll out this morning that shows Donald Trump leading the state against the top Democrats running. He’s ahead of Biden by two points and leads Warren and Sanders by three. The outcome of the presidential contest will likely have a big impact on races down the ballot. According to this poll, 2020 will look more like 2016 than 2018.
The poll shows a yawning gender gap with Trump leading among men by double digits and as high as 15 points. Women oppose him but not by as wide a margin. They prefer Warren by ten, Biden by nine and Sanders by five.
Trump has consolidated Republican support. He’s got about 85% support against all three Democrats. He’s also got 15% or more of Democrats. Most of those voters reflect the Jessecrats who are dying out but still voting. Unaffiliated voters break evenly between Trump and the Democrats.
Unsurprisingly, Trump’s base is among white, non-college educated and older voters. Trump garners at least 59% of white voters against any of the Democrats while only about a third of whites support the Democrats. Historically, Democratic candidates need at least 33% of the white vote to win. The candidates are all on the threshold.
Fifty percent of voters without a bachelor’s degree say they’ll vote for Trump, but in the head-to-heads, that number is closer to 55%. In contrast, 54% of voters with a college degree say they’ll likely or definitely vote for the Democrat and 59% of those with a graduate degree or higher will, too. According to the sample, 65% of the voters have less than a college degree.
With the exception of Sanders, African American support for the Democrat is as solid as GOP support is for Trump. Eighty-seven percent say they will definitely or probably vote for the Democratic candidate. However, while both Biden and Warren garner 85% in the head-to-head, Sanders only gets 78%.
The age split is as stark as the gender divide. Voters under 45 overwhelmingly support the Democrat. Voters 45 and over overwhelmingly support Donald Trump. The latter group makes up 62% of the sample.
The poll indicates that this election is all about Donald Trump. Democratic voters don’t significantly favor one candidate over the other. While Biden might be a slightly better candidate for the state, neither Warren nor Sanders will be a significant drag on the ticket. Sanders has some problems with women and African-Americans but he has an advantage among the youngest voters so it’s a wash.
For Democrats to win, they need to put their resources into outreach, not persuasion. They need to increase turnout among African-American voters, women voters and younger voters—the same groups they’ve needed since Obama. Trump will motivate his supporters. Democrats need to motivate theirs.