It’s amazing to see, but Republicans are really digging their own graves

Much has been written lately about the GQP’s unfathomable opposition to the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package (see here, here, here and here). In short, the Democrat’s proposal is incredibly popular, even among Republicans. A Morning Consult poll pegged support at 76% of voters, including 60% of Republicans. That’s bipartisanship. But Republicans in Congress want to play off the old destroy-Obama-at-all-costs playbook, and have put up a wall of opposition to the legislation. 

And not only are they rhetorically opposing it, but they’re actively whipping against it, forcing congressional Republicans to vote against it or else. Let’s hope they’re successful, because nothing will make the 2022 midterm messaging clearer than “those checks came from us, they didn’t want to help you at all.” 

Indeed, their current stances are so at odds with basic political common sense, it almost makes you suspicious, right? What do they know that we don’t? But no, they think the COVID-19 relief package is like the Affordable Care Act, where they could fearmonger about losing your doctor. Pandemic relief isn’t about taking anything away from you, it’s about giving you cold, hard cash. 

The current Republican response is hilariously stupid. It’s stuff like this: 

We’ve run the numbers and here’s your receipt, @SpeakerPelosi @SenSchumer. pic.twitter.com/e2cAG8st8W

— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) February 24, 2021

That “$$$”, of course, is checks for people. But even libraries and mass transit aren’t particularly unpopular items, so not sure what they think they’re getting from this kind of messaging. Here’s another one: 

Only 9% of the Biden Bailout Bill goes to #COVID relief. A few examples of where the money is actually going: ➡️$135 million for the National Endowment of the Arts ➡️$350 billion in blue state bailouts ➡️$1.5 million for the Seaway International Bridge ➡️$1.5 billion for Amtrak

— Ways and Means GOP (@WaysandMeansGOP) February 24, 2021

For a party that is losing ground with swing voters, not sure why they think that “blue state bailouts” kind of divisive rhetoric gets them anything beyond their old, white, rural, and literally dying off base. “$1.5 million” for something? In a $1.9 TRILLION dollar bill? Does anyone care? And Amtrak is a lifeline for many rural communities. And people like trains

Part of the GOP’s problem is that they no longer know how to message against an old white male. President Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren? Oh boy, they’d have a field day. But the old guy who doesn’t grandstand or showboat much, keeps his head down, stays professional? They’re at a loss. 

So much so that he is a far more popular politician than pretty much anyone else in this country. Some polling has shown positively gaudy numbers for Biden. 

New numbers from @MorningConsult show that @JoeBiden is the most popular national political leader in America https://t.co/EgQ7jtrlob pic.twitter.com/marUPs14FJ

— John Anzalone (@JohnAnzo) February 24, 2021

Civiqs, which does a great job of filtering out partisan non-response bias (in essence, demoralized partisans refusing to answer polls), has more measured numbers: 

For comparison’s sake, Donald Trump is at 42% favorable, 56% unfavorable. And just as important as the toppling, the trend is a good one. Republicans can’t touch him, which is maybe why they’re resorting to this kind of buffoonery: 

Newsmax guest attacks Biden's dogs for being dirty and "unlike a presidential dog" pic.twitter.com/6yitOlM765

— aliciasadowski (@aliciasadowski6) February 20, 2021

They’ve got nothing of real substance. 

Now, as we look ahead to 2022, take a look at this question, which asks which party better represents you:

That 16-point gap (46% Democratic vs. 30% Republican) is quite dramatic, and is driven by crashing numbers among independents: only 22% think the GOP is concerned about people like them, down from 33% on Election Day. Meanwhile, 36% of independents say Democrats are concerned about them. Let’s keep an eye on this chart in the coming months, because it’s going to become extra clear which party cares about people, and which one is hell-bent on committing political suicide. The damage Republicans are doing to themselves is already extensive. Let’s compare the two parties: 

Republican Party favorability: 23% favorable, 65% unfavorable, with brutal trendiness.

Democratic Party favorability: 44% favorable, 49% unfavorable, with gradually improving trendiness. 

Republicans already lost the 2018 and 2020 elections, and demographic trends continue to move against them. Trump cost them the White House, the Senate, and the House, and there is zero guarantee his voters will ever turn out for an election without Trump on the ballot (they haven’t before). Yet the Republican Party isn’t just doubling down on Trumpism, it’s doubling down on opposing popular legislation.

Think about it, even a Q-addled Republican will have to think twice in 2022 if she or he has to vote between losing their monthly child credit check from the IRS, or a Republican promising to end any such help. Deliver help to people, and it’s a different playing field. It’s already happening, and the legislation hasn’t even passed into law. 

Democrats gifted Republicans the chance to rip out the Trump cancer from their party, but the GQP refused to convict in the impeachment trial. Now Republicans are gifting Democrats the chance to lock in popular support for their party and candidates. 

Perhaps it’s time to stop looking the gift horse in the mouth, and just run up the advantage. 

New Daily Kos/Civiqs poll: Majority of Americans blame Trump for attack on U.S. Capitol

The best antidote to hot takes is hard data, and the latest Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is here with your cure. This survey of 1,513 adults was conducted online from Feb. 12-15 and reveals that 53% of Americans think that Donald Trump deserves “a great deal” of blame for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. A majority of Americans (53%) also believe that Trump’s conduct was grounds for impeachment, and 54% say that the Senate should bar Trump from holding any federal office in the future. These attitudes are sharply divided along partisan lines: 79% of Republicans believe that Trump is not at all to blame for the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.

Other noteworthy findings in this month’s poll include:

  • A whopping 70% support sending at least $1,400 in coronavirus relief to most Americans (24% say the payment should exceed $1,400).
  • 54% of Americans support the Biden administration’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • 68% of Americans have noticed unusual delays in postal service over the past several months. A plurality (49%) support the Biden administration replacing the current members of the United States Postal Service Board of Governors, including Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, versus only 18% who oppose this.
  • More than one in three Americans (36%), including 64% of Democrats, believe that a college education should be free.

Additional issues surveyed include views on student loan debt relief, the stimulus child allowance proposal, and viewership of Fox News, Newsmax, One American News Network, and MSNBC.

This poll’s numbers reveal that not only do Americans support the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief plan, but also that Americans hold Trump responsible for the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol and believe that he should be barred from holding public office forever.

Civiqs is an award-winning survey research firm that conducts scientific public opinion polls on the Internet through its nationally representative online survey panel. Founded in 2013, Civiqs specializes in political and public policy polling. Results from Civiqs’ daily tracking polls can be found online at civiqs.com.

CIVIQS poll shows most Republicans are now Trump supporters first, party supporters … not at all

In 2016, Donald Trump infamously said that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue without losing the support of his fanatical followers. That still appears to be pretty much true as, after refusing to acknowledge the results of a free election, splitting his own party, presiding over the loss of the Senate, and instigating a deadly, violent assault on the Capitol in a bid to interfere with counting electoral votes, the latest CIVIQS results still show Trump holding onto 43% support. 

In fact, if anyone has suffered from Trump’s actions it’s every other Republican official. It doesn’t even seem to matter to what degree they supported Trump in his efforts to topple the elected government. Kevin McCarthy? Way down. Mitch McConnell? Down to a hilarious 11% favorable rating. But the biggest loser may be Mike Pence, who has seen his support among Republicans plummet, putting him at a 33% favorable rating.

All of this can be explained simply enough: Republicans no longer think of themselves as Republicans. By a two to one margin, those who voted for Trump say they consider themselves “a Trump supporter,” not “a Republican.”

The way that these voters attach to Trump rather than anyone else can be seen in another value in the poll. When asked if they believed the election was “stolen,” a jaw-dropping 40% of Americans still said yes, over a week after the assault on the Capitol. But when asked if Republicans who voted against certifying the vote were “protecting democracy,” only 37% agreed. Even when Republicans were doing exactly what Trump asked them to do, they still got lower marks than Trump himself.

There was an interesting split on views of the actual insurgency. Asked if the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol represented “a coup attempt,” 53% of Americans agreed—within a point of those in the poll who said they did not vote for Trump. However, when asked if the attack was “an act of terrorism,” the number rose to 60%. That number indicates that even some of those who voted for Trump were upset over the the sight of a mob prowling the halls of Congress. That number was apparently confirmed by the 62% who agreed that everyone who broke into the Capitol building should be arrested. And still, the guy who instigated the attack is polling far higher than other Republicans.

Finally, a plurality of voters want to see both Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley kicked out of the Senate. In Hawley’s case, that includes at least some voters who went for Trump.

Everything in the poll seems to indicate that Trump voters remain Trump voters, not Republican voters. If there remains a core of non-Trump Republicans, they are vanishingly small. As the GOP tries to separate itself from the angry guy leaving the room, it’s completely unclear how many of those Trump voters are ready to come back into their ranks without Big Orange at the lead. With a 11% favorable rating for McConnell, and a 20% rating for McCarthy … just who is the leader of the Republican Party going into 2021? 

One possible side effect of this deep schism in the Republican Party is that it may make it easier for McConnell and other Republicans to support Trump’s impeachment. To coin a phrase: What do you have to lose?

Republicans ditch Mitch, because Trump is their one true love

Once upon a time, the Republican establishment made a Faustian bargain with the ignorant, racist rabble that makes up the conservative base, and it’s now coming back to bite them. Of the 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump in 2020, a huge chunk of them—the dangerous, conspiracy theory-believing, radicalized populist right—don’t care for Republicans. Their allegiance is to one man: a cult of Trump. 

First and foremost, after everything that has happened—the nearly 400,000 dead from COVID, the Capitol insurrection, the refusal to accept democracy, the bullying and deplorable behavior—the Republican base still loves its Donald Trump. 

Trump’s job approvals are currently at their lowest levels ever in Civiqs polling history—40% approve, while 57% disapprove. Yet most of that drop is among independents. Republicans are, for the most part, holding firm: Trump’s job approval among Republicans was 91-7 on Election Day, and 88-8 today.

And despite that small erosion in job approvals, Trump’s favorability ratings among Republicans is barely budging, from 91% favorable and 7% unfavorable on Election Day, to 90-9 today. Sheesh. 

It’s safe to say that despite his unprecedented assault on American democracy, self-identified Republicans aren’t jumping ship. They are slightly less impressed with the job that he is doing, but that’s all cool! They still think he’s the best. 

Now compare that to Republican sentiment for the Republican Party:

Those same Republicans approved of the GOP by a 82-9 margin on Election Day. Today’s 64-21 margin is a net 30-point drop. Those are Republicans upset that the party, generically, isn’t “fighting” hard enough to upend the results of the election. 

Now look at Mitch McConnell: 

Holy crap! McConnell went from a 70-13 favorable rating among Republicans on Election Day, to just 25-49% favorables today! I’ll do the math for you—that’s an 81-point net drop

As you can see on the graph, the collapse came in two waves—the first after McConnell finally recognized Biden’s victory (after Vladmir Putin had done so and apparently given the go-ahead), and then after the failed insurrection at the Capitol, when McConnell refused to join Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas to contest the Arizona and Pennsylvania electors. 

Meanwhile, who was tops on the insurrectionists’ murder list? Vice President Mike Pence. Let’s look at this numbers: 

Pence’s 91-6% favorability rating on Election Day was in line with Trump’s 91-7. And Republicans mostly stuck with him while Pence humored Trump’s electoral delusions. But the attack on the Capitol was fueled, in large part, with anger at Pence’s refusal to join in a coup attempt while certifying the Electoral College vote. And the reaction was immediate, as you can see from the chart above, down a net 48 points to a 61-24 favorability rating today, 

To summarize:  

Net favorability

(republicans)

Election Day Today change Donald Trump Republican Party Mitch McConnell Mike Pence
+84 +81 -3
+73 +43 -30
+57 -24 -81
+85 +37 -48

Once again, Donald Trump is the favorite thing among Republicans. They barely budged off him. The Republican Party has suffered a steep drop, but not as steep as the second- and third-highest ranked Republicans. The party might still be seen as belonging to Trump himself, limiting the damage. 

McConnell has always been distrusted by Republicans, for reasons that are unfathomable to me. Look at all the Supreme Court seats he stole for the GOP! Perhaps it’s like El Chapo Trap House-style hatred for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—when you are on the fringe, you are never going to be happy with what any legislative chamber’s leader can accomplish in our current system. And while McConnell had earned some goodwill among Republicans for his defense of Trump during the first impeachment trial, his refusal to sign on to the election challenges eliminated all of that. 

But McConnell is easy to hate, and Republicans love to hate him. This isn’t the first time he’s been underwater with Republicans in the three years we’ve tracked him: 

Pence, on the other hand, is a reliably conservative Republican stalwart, loyal to a fault to Donald Trump. His Election Day favorables with Republicans actually exceeded Trump’s by a point. His drop in support is directly attributable to his refusal to join the coup attempt.

If Senate Republicans actually provide the votes for conviction, these numbers will be scrambled yet again. Who knows how Trump’s de-platforming will affect his ability to control his party. Will the nascent Lynn Cheney/Lincoln Project faction of the GOP gain traction? The situation is volatile. 

But as of now, the GOP is very much Trump’s Party. 

Former Ohio Republican governor to speak at the Democratic convention

Ohio has burrowed itself deep in impeached president Donald Trump, who may or may not be hiding in his bunker at this time. It’s not a state that will decide the presidency. Trump won it by eight points in 2016, and if he loses it this year (and chances are growing by the day), he will already have lost Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and several other states—giving presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden more than enough electoral votes to end our long national nightmare. Yet his campaign has now made Ohio the second-largest recipient of advertising dollars, behind only Florida. 

So how do you think Trump will react when he finds out that former Ohio two-term Republican governor John Kasich is scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention? Hilarious, right? 

The Daily Beast has leaked details on Democratic plans for the mostly online convention, which includes the information on Kasich’s participation. The Associated Press has more information on the Kasich coup, and adds this hint: “Kasich is among a handful of high-profile Republicans likely to become more active in supporting Biden in the fall.” The Biden campaign, feeling secure in its base, is clearly focused on expanding his potential base of support, and the never-Trump crowd, while small, could have a big impact in close races up and down the ballot. 

Ohio is a perfect example, a state in which Trump’s standing has fallen more precipitously during the coronavirus pandemic (and because of it) than most places. 

As noted in a previous analysis, Trump’s general election matchup numbers are closely correlated to his approval numbers. His 47% approvals here means he’s getting between 47-49% in the head-to-head matchups versus Biden. That’s enough for victory, but barely. Trump is hanging on for dear life in a state that he comfortably won in 2016, and which shouldn’t be in play given its demographics—mostly white, mostly non-college.  

Meanwhile, Kasich left office a popular politician, with a 52-36 rating the last time Quinnipiac checked in before he was termed out of office in 2018. But even then, there were storm clouds that hinted at a party split: “Ohio Gov. John Kasich gets a 52-36 percent job approval rating, doing better with Democrats than he does with his fellow Republicans, Democrats approve of Kasich 57-33 percent. Republicans are divided as 46 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove.” You see, he had run against Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, and Trump hit him for, among other things, giving his state’s residents health care via Obamacare Medicaid expansion. 

pic.twitter.com/ZQ0osiFEJQ

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2016

The campaign eventually ended, but the feud never did. For example, here was a typical interaction between the two, in 2018:

pic.twitter.com/wqtmN9SwhT

— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) August 13, 2018

Pretty good, right? Kasich also attacked his party for looking the other way as Trump made a mockery of party orthodoxy, steel and aluminum tariffs, as well as for tolerating Trump’s attacks on national institutions like the FBI and the Justice Department. After the 2019 Dayton mass shooting, Kasich called Trump “sensitive” and “thin-skinned.”  

Kasich spent some seconds this year “running against Trump in the GOP primary,” but no one took that seriously. The Republican Party is the Party of Trump, and vice versa. There’s no longer any room for Kasich-style moderate fiscal conservatives in the GOP. We don’t want them either! But at least this year, those never-Trumpers realize the damage that Trump is doing to the country. As Kasich told the Washington Post, “[The Republican Party] coddled this guy the whole time and now it’s like some rats are jumping off of the sinking ship. It’s just a little late. It’s left this nation with a crescendo of hate not only between politicians but between citizens. ... It started with Charlottesville and people remained silent then, and we find ourselves in this position now.”

Kasich may be the highest-profile Republican to flip to Biden right now, but there is definitely something happening among Republicans. Look at Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans: 

So 87-9 seems ridiculously high, right? Except that during the impeachment hearings, that number was 91-6. That means that in just a few short months, Trump has lost a net-seven points of support among Republicans. 

Don’t scoff. Every Republican that gives up on Trump is one less vote. They may vote for Biden and say the heck with it, they’ll vote for Democrats in critical Senate and House races. Or maybe they stay home in frustration, which is almost as good. 

Every Republican defection makes it harder for Trump to bounce back. How is he going to expand his coalition if he can’t even hold on to his own core base? 

Kasich isn’t a play to win Ohio. We don’t need Ohio. Let Trump piss his money away on a state that is irrelevant to whether he wins or loses. While there are two Republican-held House seats that could be in play, control of the U.S. House isn’t at stake. 

But there are Republicans who aren’t happy being associated with a racist sociopath who is putting our children at risk to boost his reelection chances, and Kasich is a signal to them freeing them from Trumpism. There are alternatives. Because this thing, whatever it is that Republicanism has become? It really hasn’t quite worked out well for the country now, has it.

But even if Kasich doesn’t swing a single vote—which is quite possible—the inevitable Trump tantrum will be reason enough to stand up and clap. You know it’ll be glorious. 

Trump is doing everything possible to make safe red-state Senate seats competitive

Senate Democrats are looking like winners in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina. Their leads are so large at this point that it’s hard to see, absent scandal, how they won’t win. Democrats are also looking good in the next tier of races, tied or leading in Iowa, both Georgia seats, and Montana. Kansas and Texas are in the third tier, which is lean or likely Republican, but within the realm of possibility. 

And then there are the fourth-tier races—those that are “likely or safe Republican.” While some early polling looks encouraging, it would be really tough for Democrats to pick up absent a massive Democratic wave. And here, I’m mostly talking about challenges in Kentucky and South Carolina, and our incumbent senator in Alabama. And yet, Trump’s national polling collapse threatens Republican holds on these seats even if they remain safely red in the presidential race. 

Alabama has been considered a lost cause almost from the moment that Democratic incumbent Doug Jones won the seat in a 2017 special election 50-48.3—a margin of just 22,000 votes—against a child predator, someone who even admitted approaching teenage girls while he was in his 30s. It has seemed inconceivable that Democrats would ever hold that seat during a presidential year in a state that gave Trump a 61-34 victory in 2016. 

And certainly Civiqs’ daily tracker of Trump’s job approvals in Alabama shows his job approval rating hovering in the 60-40 range for the last three years. But look what suddenly happened: 

That’s a fall from +20 net approvals during impeachment to single digits +9 today, or a net 11-point drop. That outpaces the drops we’ve seen nationally (around a net 5-point drop). 

The drop is even bigger in Kentucky, the third most pro-Trump state after Wyoming and West Virginia. 

That’s a drop from his high-water mark of around +25 net approvals (60-35) to +13 today (54-41), or a net 12-point drop.

The last of these three tough fourth-tier Senate states is South Carolina:

The drop here is actually in line with national results: a 5-point drop from +8 net approvals to +3 (50-47). 

Now, Trump will win all three of these states. And he’ll win them all easily. That’s not the point here. 

The point is that for Democrats to have any chance, they’ll need ticket splitters or voters who don’t fill the ballot past the presidential contest. The stronger the pro-Trump vote is, the tougher that task becomes.

In 2008, incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is the current Republican leader in the Senate, won his election race 53-47. That same year, on the same ballot, John McCain defeated Barack Obama 57-41. McConnell ran 10 points behind the top of the ticket. 

So yeah, if Trump wins Kentucky along the same lines as his 63-33 victory in 2016, then the Democrats won’t defeat McConnell, period. But as we’ve seen in recent polling, Trump’s share of the Biden versus Trump vote is closely correlated to his personal ratings. If Trump’s popularity continues to falter in the state (and the pandemic and job losses aren’t going anywhere any time soon), that presidential race could tighten, and that hill Democrats must climb gets easier and easier. Same goes for Alabama, South Carolina, and pretty much every single other state. 

Can Democrats win these three states? If the election were today, they wouldn’t. But given Trump’s inability to show anything akin to leadership in these critical times, the more he falls, the better our chances. 

You want to chip in and help? It wouldn’t be a bad idea, so here you go!

Trump’s polling collapse puts Ohio back on the map

Once upon a time, Ohio was the ultimate swing state. President Barack Obama won it as recently as 2012! But then, non-college whites turned sharply in favor of bunker-hiding Donald Trump, and Ohio was both (82% non-Hispanic white, and ranked 35th in college graduates). Trump won it easily by over 8 points.

So Ohio wasn’t included in the early tally of 2020 battleground states. Early polling wasn’t encouraging for Democrats, and there were seven other states that would clearly decide the November contest: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

But, you can now officially add Ohio to that list.

As I wrote in my last story, we’re seeing clear correlation between Trump’s personal ratings, and his head-to-head matchups. In other words, whatever his favorability rating is, that’s what he’s pretty much getting against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Here are the four last Civiqs state polls:

STATE TRUMP FAVORABLES TRUMP vs. BIDEN GEORGIAKANSASNORTH CAROLINASOUTH CAROLINA
47-51 47-48
51-47 52-40
45-53 46-49
51-47 52-42

Also, in the last story, I wrote about Trump’s overall collapse in his personal approval ratings. Well, Ohio has had a more exaggerated collapse compared to the country at large. 

During impeachment, Trump had a +4 favorability rating in Ohio, or 51-47. That’s important because it meant he was likely over 50% in head-to-heads against Biden. We were right to keep the state off the battleground map. 

However, those approvals have dropped a net total of 12 points, to an anemic 45-53. So what other states have approval ratings in that -8 range? 

APPROVALS NET APPROVAL Iowa Florida Ohio Georgia North Carolina Wisconsin Pennsylvania MICHIGAN Arizona
45-52 -7
45-52 -7
45-53 -8
44-53 -9
43-54 -11
43-54 -11
42-54 -12
42-56 -14
40-57 -17

We know Florida is tied because not only the polling says so, but, you know, it’s Florida. (Actually, the polling gives Biden a small lead in Florida, but it’s Florida. So it’s tied.) 

Trump’s ratings in Ohio are a hint worse. Trump’s Ohio ratings are still better than they are in Georgia and North Carolina, two states we know that he is narrowly losing. But they’re all in the same range, with Trump getting roughly 45-46% of the Trump versus Biden vote. He’s slipped away from that 50% mark. The state is in play. And it makes that Fox News poll last week showing Biden leading in Ohio 45-43 make plenty of sense. 

Now Ohio won’t be deciding this election. If Biden wins the state, it’s because he already won the other seven battlegrounds. There is no scenario imaginable in which Ohio casts any deciding Electoral College votes. (Iowa and Texas are in a similar situation, as well as Minnesota and Nevada for Trump. If he wins those last two states, he’s already won the election.) 

What it means is that a panicking Trump campaign is already spending money trying to shore up the state. 

Over the past few weeks, the president’s operation has spent about $1.7 million on advertising in just three states he carried in 2016 — Ohio, Iowa and Arizona — that it had hoped would not be competitive at all this year. Much of that sum went to a concentrated two-week barrage in Ohio [...]

As I wrote last week, this spending is proof that Trump’s campaign is either being driven by Trump’s whims—he likely hates the idea that he’s losing Ohio, or his campaign manager Brad Parscale is utterly incompetent. Again, if they lose Ohio, they already lost the election, so why waste money there when Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have all fallen seemingly out of reach?

(To spare you the math, picking up just those four states—Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin is a 289-249 Biden victory. Including North Carolina, which also has a Trump double-digit approval deficit, makes it 304-234 Biden.)

But whatever the motivation to piss away millions in Ohio, it again proves that the state is in serious play. And that is, quite simply, remarkable. There’s nothing about the state that suggests it should be competitive. It seemed headed into Missouri territory—a once competitive state relegated by demographics to solid red status. And yet, here we are. 

Ohio, welcome back to swing-state status!

Trump keeps screwing everything up and it’s killing him in the battleground states

This is the current national state of play with Donald Trump as he faces his worst job ratings in two years: 

It’s a legit roadmap of the 2020 presidential election.

Here's the current electoral map picture: 

It’s a little confusing, since the color blue in the first map “approves of Trump,” while in the second map it means the exact opposite. But it’s still not too hard to sort out: Blue states really don’t like Trump. Red states like Trump. There are the edge-case states—states that are evenly divided on the question, but aren’t current battlegrounds (Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah). And then there are the seven battlegrounds—all states that voted for Trump in 2016, and all states in which his numbers are currently net-negative. 

Approve DisapproVe net Arizona Florida Georgia Michigan North Carolina Pennsylvania Wisconsin
42 56 -14
46 51 -5
45 51 -6
42 55 -13
45 53 -8
44 52 -8
45 53 -8

Arizona continues to surprise. Who would’ve thought it looks better for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden than Pennsylvania does? And worse for Trump, his numbers are trending even lower. For example, let’s look at Arizona: 

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, Trump has gone from -10 net favorables in Arizona, to -14. Arizona has around 4 million registered voter. Going from -10 to -14 net favorability means that around 160,000 Arizona voters changed their mind about Trump. 

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won the state by just 56,000 votes in 2018. Democrats picked up the secretary of state office by 20,000 votes. These shifts in public opinion may seem small, but in a tight battleground state, every point matters. And it should be noted, the shift in job approvals in Arizona started during the impeachment hearings. They really did set the stage. 

Let’s look at Florida: 

Florida is Florida, balanced on a razor’s edge, but once again, impeachment took a bite out of Trump, and the pandemic is further widening the split. Looking at Michigan, however, and impeachment didn’t leave any mark, but the pandemic is: 

Click around and see for yourself, but the virus is having an impact in every one of these battleground states. (In every state, actually, but only the battlegrounds are close enough for it to matter.) This is the reason much of the battleground polling lately has been so gaudy-good for Joe Biden and Democratic down-ballot candidates (like the recent Civiqs surveys out of North Carolina and Georgia. Even South Carolina looked better than 2016 numbers).

Will it stay that way? We can’t assume that, of course. It helps us that Trump isn’t trying to actually win new voters. The a-hole is running ads mocking Biden for wearing a mask, when 72% of Americans support wearing masks. He's playing to his peanut gallery. He’s certainly not trying to minimize the continued death toll, having given up entirely on the matter. He’d rather pretend everything is fine so states open up as quickly and as fully as possible. And while some renewed economic activity is inevitable as restrictions loosen up, that still won’t save tens of millions of jobs before November. 

So will Trump be able to recapture that support he’s recently lost? It’s possible! The charts obviously do show their up-and-down fluctuations over the last four years. A skilled, capable, compassionate, and focused leader could certainly manage to parlay this crisis into broad popular support. President George W. Bush hit 90% approvals after 9/11, despite having ignored a report that literally warned that al-Qaida was about to strike the nation. The public wants to rally around their leader in a crisis. 

Trump isn’t skilled or compassionate or capable. He’s a barely functioning adult. And this crisis has made it harder and harder for people to cling to the notion that Trump is actually a good president. 

It’s hard for people to admit that their sincerely held beliefs were wrong. And politics is now akin to religion—part of one’s self-identity. Leaving the Republican Party is like leaving a cult. Not everyone can manage it. And yet, it’s happening. It happened in 2018, with suburban white women testing the waters, and the water was fine! Newly re-minted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t the boogeyman! She ended up being nothing like that asshole in the Senate, Mitch McConnell. 

And now it’s time to leave the Cult of MAGA, and it’s happening, little by little, inch by inch. It’s been enough to spot Biden a clear lead in the Electoral College, it has been enough to deprive Trump of an expanded map, it has been enough to create two new battleground states in previously red (and solidly red!) Arizona and Georgia. 

Can Trump reverse that trend? Sure, it’s within the realm of possibility, but no, he won’t. He can’t. He probably doesn’t even want to. 

Morning Digest: GOP primary for swingy New Mexico House seat reaches new low in nastiness

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

NM-02: The June 2 GOP contest to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico's 2nd District turned negative a long time ago, and it may now be the ugliest primary anywhere in the country.

The Associated Press' Russell Contreras reported Tuesday that 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell had texted with a conservative cartoonist named Roger Rael about a meme Rael was creating that suggested that Herrell's main rival, businesswoman Claire Chase, had been unfaithful to her first husband. Herrell showed a close interest in Rael's illustration, going so far as to inform him about multiple spelling errors: "It should say gold digging, not good digging," she wrote, adding, "Let me send them in the morning. There are a couple of more."

Campaign Action

Herrell's campaign did acknowledge that she had communicated with Rael, who it just so happens is currently under indictment for what Contreras describes as "disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property charges in connection with an alleged attack on a Republican state House candidate." However, Herrell's spokesperson claimed that Rael had incessantly messaged Herrell, saying that her texts only came in response to his. (What better way to fend off unwelcome texting than to turn into the grammar police?) Herrell also put out a statement saying, "I have never attempted to use personal rumors about Claire in this race, and will never do so. Neither has my campaign."

Chase, unsurprisingly, was not appeased, and she called for Herrell to drop out of the primary. Chase's former husband, Ben Gray, issued his own statement slamming Herrell: "I can't believe Yvette Herrell would try to use me in this false, disgusting attack," he wrote. Gray, who said he was still friends with Chase and is a member of a group called Veterans for Claire, added, "What kind of person would smear a Veteran to win a political campaign?"

But even before these latest developments, this was a messy campaign. Both candidates launched ads last month that accused the other of trying to undermine Donald Trump in 2016; Herrell's commercial even employed a narrator who used what Nathan Gonzalez described as a "ditzy tone" to impersonate Chase. Gonzalez, who titled his article, "The campaign attack ad no man could get away with," also characterized the spot as "one of the most sexist campaign ads in recent memory."

Whoever makes it out of next month's primary will emerge bruised, but the winner will still have a chance to beat Torres Small simply because of the district's conservative demographics: This southern New Mexico seat supported Donald Trump 50-40, and Daily Kos Elections rates the general election a Tossup.

But Torres Small, who defeated Herrell 51-49 last cycle, had nearly $3 million in the bank to defend herself at the end of March, while her prospective opponents didn't have anywhere close to that much. Herrell enjoyed a $378,000 to $264,000 cash-on-hand lead over Chase while a third candidate, self-funder Chris Mathys, had $200,000 to spend.

Election Changes

Florida: The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, along with two other organizations and several voters, has filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to relax a number of Florida laws related to absentee voting for the state's Aug. 18 primaries and the November general election. In particular, the plaintiffs want absentee ballots to count so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within 10 days; currently, ballots must be received by 7 PM local time on Election Day. They're also asking that the state pay the postage on return envelopes for mail-in ballots, and that Florida's ban on paid organizers assisting with ballot collection be lifted.

Nevada: Nevada Democrats and their national counterparts have withdrawn their legal challenge seeking a number of changes to the state's June 2 primary after officials in Clark County acceded to two of their biggest demands. According to a court filing, plaintiffs say that Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria has agreed to mail ballots to all voters, not just those listed as "active," and will add two in-person voting sites, for a total of three.

Officials in other parts of the state have made more limited concessions, per the filing, but Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, is home to 71% of Nevada voters and 81% of all "inactive" voters in the state. Democrats also say they plan to continue pressing their claims for the general election.

North Carolina: Several North Carolina voters, backed by voting rights organizations, have brought a lawsuit asking a state court to relax a number of laws related to absentee voting for the November general election. In particular, the plaintiffs want absentee ballots to count so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within nine days, which is the same deadline for military voters; currently, ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received within just three days.

They're also asking for an expanded definition of the term "postmark" to include modern imprints like barcodes, and in the event a postmark does not include a date, they want officials "to presume that the ballot was mailed on or before Election Day unless the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates it was mailed after Election Day."

In addition, plaintiffs want the state to pay for postage for both absentee ballot applications and ballots, and they want the court to waive the requirement that absentee voters have their ballots either notarized or signed by two witnesses. Finally, plaintiffs are requesting that voters be given the opportunity to correct any issues if their signatures allegedly do not match those on file.

Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down a requirement that absentee ballots be notarized and issued an order prohibiting officials from sending out ballots or other voting materials suggesting that notarization is still mandatory. Last month, the League of Women Voters challenged the notary requirement, calling it antithetical to stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The court's decision, however, was not grounded in public health but rather a state law that allows a signed statement made under penalty of perjury to suffice in lieu of a notarization in most cases where an affidavit is called for.

Senate

CO-Sen: Businesswoman Michelle Ferrigno Warren's campaign came to an end on Monday when the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling that had placed her on the June 23 Democratic primary ballot. Denver District Court Judge Christopher Baumann had ordered Warren onto the ballot last month even though she didn't have enough signatures after deciding that, in light of disruptions caused by social distancing, she had collected enough to justify her place in the primary. However, the state's highest court ultimately ruled that only the legislature has the authority to change how many petitions are needed.

This could spell very bad news for another candidate, nonprofit head Lorena Garcia. Baumann had also ordered Garcia onto the primary ballot for the same reason he had applied to Warren, but Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office announced Monday evening that she was appealing his decision to the state Supreme Court.

GA-Sen-A: 2017 House nominee Jon Ossoff is out with a new statewide ad ahead of the June 9 Democratic primary that prominently features Rep. John Lewis and touts his endorsement. Lewis speaks positively of Ossoff, imploring voters to support him and "send Donald Trump a message he will never forget", while clips of the pair appearing together are shown.

Lewis and Ossoff have a relationship that dates back several years. Ossoff previously interned for the civil rights icon and Atlanta-area congressman, while Lewis was one of Ossoff's earliest supporters in his 2017 special election bid for the 6th Congressional District.

ME-Sen: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is out with a health care-themed spot, supported with a six-figure buy, attacking Republican Sen. Susan Collins. The ad ties Collins to the pharmaceutical industry and also states that she "voted against Mainers with pre-existing conditions and for corporate special interests." The commercial, which also shows images of Collins seated alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, closes by saying, "Money changes everything, even Susan Collins."

NC-Sen, NC-Gov: A new poll conducted by Democratic pollster Civiqs on behalf of Daily Kos shows Democrats well ahead in North Carolina's Senate and gubernatorial contests. (Civiqs and Daily Kos are owned by the same parent company.) Cal Cunningham leads GOP Sen. Thom Tillis 50-41, while Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper posts a similar 53-44 edge against Republican Dan Forest; this sample also finds Joe Biden ahead 49-46.

This is the largest lead we've seen for Cunningham since he won the primary in early March, though we still don't have too many other polls to work with. The conservative Civitas Institute released numbers in mid-April from the GOP firm Harper Polling that showed Tillis ahead 38-34, while the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found Cunningham ahead 47-40 around that same time. A SurveyUSA poll released last week also had Cunningham ahead just 41-39.

Civiqs does find Cooper taking about the same percentage of the vote as other firms do, but it finds Forest in better shape. While Cooper has consistently posted very strong approval ratings since the coronavirus pandemic began, it seems unlikely that Forest will end up in the mid-30s when all is said and done in this polarized state. Indeed, the last time a major party gubernatorial nominee failed to take at least 42% of the vote was 1980.

TX-Sen: Air Force veteran MJ Hegar picked up an endorsement this week from Rep. Veronica Escobar ahead of the July Democratic primary runoff.

Gubernatorial

MT-Gov: Businesswoman Whitney Williams picked up an endorsement on Tuesday from Hillary Clinton for the June 2 Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, Williams is also out with a commercial where she declares that, while trailblazing women built Montana, Rep. Greg Gianforte and Donald Trump are threatening women now. Williams declares that Trump and the GOP primary frontrunner "want to take away our right to choose. Even restrict birth control. I won't let that happen."

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney, who is Williams' primary opponent, is also out with a TV spot. The narrators say that Cooney worked with outgoing Gov. Steve Bullock to expand healthcare access, protect rural hospitals, and create the jobs "that will steer our economy through this crisis." The ad ends by reminding voters that Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester are backing Cooney.

While the primary is almost a month away, voters will have the chance to cast their ballots very soon. Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton announced in March that all 56 Montana counties plan to conduct the state's primary by mail, and that ballots will be mailed out to registered voters on May 8.

House

IA-04: This week, the deep-pocketed U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed state Sen. Randy Feenstra over white supremacist Rep. Steve King in the June 2 GOP primary.

PA-10: Attorney Tom Brier is up with his first TV spot ahead of the June 2 Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Scott Perry.

The commercial shows several images of Brier's volunteers as the candidate explains his campaign "has always been about bringing progressive Democrats together. Lots of Democrats who are now volunteering from home." Brier's supporters then say what they believe in, including taking money out of politics, dealing with the opioid crisis, and healthcare for all. Brier ends by telling the viewer, "Apply for your mail-in ballot today."

Brier faces state Auditor Eugene DePasquale, who has the support of the DCCC, in next month's primary, and DePasquale ended March with a large $657,000 to $145,000 cash-on-hand lead. Perry, who narrowly won re-election last cycle, had $816,000 available to defend himself in a seat in the Harrisburg and York area that backed Trump 52-43.

Mayoral

Baltimore, MD Mayor: On behalf of The Citizens for Ethical Progressive Leadership PAC, a group supporting former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller, the Democratic firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group is out with a mid-April poll showing a tight June 2 Democratic primary.

The first survey we’ve seen since mid-March finds that Miller, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, and City Council President Brandon Scott are in a three-way tie with 16% each, while incumbent Jack Young is at 13%. Two other contenders, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith and former state prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah, are at 11% and 10%, respectively, while 18% are undecided. It only takes a simple plurality to win, and the Democratic nominee should have no trouble in November in this very blue city.

The primary, which was delayed from April 28 to early June because of the coronavirus pandemic, has also turned into a very expensive contest. The Baltimore Sun reports that Miller has raised $800,000 and self-funded an additional $1.5 million this year, which has allowed her to outspend her many opponents; Miller had only $150,000 left in late April, but she may have the resources to self-fund more.

Miller is also the only one of the many major candidates who is white in a city that’s 63% African American and 32% white: The other notable candidates are Black except for Vignarajah, who is the son of Sri Lankan immigrants. Baltimore’s last white mayor was Martin O’Malley, who was elected in 1999 and resigned in early 2007 to become governor of Maryland.

Vignarajah has also been a strong fundraiser, and he had the largest war chest in the field last month with $700,000 in the bank. Scott, who has the backing of several unions, led Dixon in cash-on-hand $415,000 to $300,000, while Young had $202,000 to spend; Young’s campaign said that he’s all but stopped fundraising as he deals with the coronavirus. Smith, meanwhile, was far behind with just $22,000 available.

It would ordinarily be quite surprising to see a crowded race where the incumbent trailing in both the polls and the money contest, but Young has only been in office for about a year. He was elevated from City Council president to mayor when incumbent Catherine Pugh resigned in disgrace (she later was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges related to her self-published children's books), and a number of candidates quickly made it clear that they’d challenge Young.

Young’s critics have argued that the veteran local politician isn’t the right person to help Baltimore deal with its long-term problems, and they’ve also taken him to task for his many gaffes. To take one example, Young said of the city’s high homicide rate last year, “I’m not committing the murders, and that’s what people need to understand," and, "How can you fault leadership? This has been five years of 300-plus murders. I don't see it as a lack of leadership."

Several polls taken during the winter showed Young badly trailing, and Mason-Dixon gave him a 28-39 favorable rating in mid-March. However, that was during the early days of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, and we don’t have enough data to indicate if Young's handling of the situation at home has given him a better shot to win a full term this year.

Miller began airing commercials months ago, and she’s largely had the airwaves to herself. Miller also has a new commercial where she tells viewers that Barack Obama brought her on at the Treasury Department during the Great Recession, and argues she has the experience to help Baltimore “come back stronger” from the current pandemic.

Dixon, meanwhile, went up with her first spot last week, which featured several people praising her accomplishments as mayor. Dixon resigned that post in 2010 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families, but she’s maintained a base of support since then. Dixon ran for mayor again in 2016 and narrowly lost the primary to then-state Sen. Pugh 37-35. Dixon launched a write-in campaign just a month ahead of the competitive general election and took second place with 52,000 votes, which was good for a 58-22 loss.

Vignarajah also recently went up with a new ad that features several locals praising him as a responsive leader. Vignarajah’s supporters say he got them jobs, stopped their water from being shut off, and halted illegal trash dumping. One woman also praises Vignarajah for convicting the men who murdered her young son.

New Daily Kos/Civiqs poll: Most Americans disapprove of U.S. Senate’s handling of impeachment

The best antidote to hot takes is hard data, and the February Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is here with your cure. This month’s survey of 1,543 registered voters was conducted online from Feb. 11-14 and reveals that 60% of Americans disapprove of how the U.S. Senate conducted Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. And with the Iowa Democratic caucus debacle just behind us and the Nevada caucuses imminent, 58% of Americans support eliminating the presidential caucus system.

Other noteworthy findings in this month’s poll include:

The majority of Americans (52%) disapprove of Trump’s job performance as president. Support for eliminating presidential primary caucuses cuts across party lines. Majorities of Democrats (68%), Republicans (51%), and Independents (54%) want to end the practice. More Americans rank George W. Bush’s presidency above Trump’s (48%-44%), but 91% of frequent Fox News viewers rank Trump over Bush.

Additional issues surveyed include support for continuing Trump investigations by the U.S. House, the Trump administration’s newly expanded travel ban, and support for the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

February’s numbers unequivocally reveal that Americans feel the GOP Senate majority failed in its duty to administer the impeachment trial fairly.

This month’s survey provides additional evidence that frequent Fox News viewers are deeply disconnected from mainstream Americans. While 60% of all Americans disapprove of how the Senate conducted Trump’s impeachment trial, 68% of faithful Fox viewers approve. And while only 45% of Americans believe Trump is handling his job as president well, a whopping 93% of frequent Fox viewers think he’s doing great.

Civiqs is a survey research firm that conducts scientific public opinion polls on the internet through its nationally representative online survey panel. Founded in 2013, Civiqs specializes in political and public policy polling. Results from Civiqs’ daily tracking polls can be found online at civiqs.com.