February 10, 2020


Health Care Is a Trump Swing-State Vulnerability (DANIEL MCGRAW,  FEBRUARY 10, 2020, The Bulwark)

One poll that clearly spells out the problem for the president and his party is the Great Lakes Poll conducted published to little attention on January 21. It is important because it surveyed people in only four states--Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trump won the last three states by a total of 77,000 votes in 2016, and their combined 46 electoral votes put him over the top. If the rest of the states were to vote in 2020 the same way they did in 2016 but just those three states flipped, Trump would lose in the Electoral College with 260 votes to his Democratic opponent's 278.

One question in the poll was especially relevant to health care, and unlike the questions in most previous national polls, phrased very directly: "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling healthcare policy?"

The results show Trump and the Republicans have a big problem in these key states. When the survey was weighted to match the demographics of the polled states, 51 percent of Pennsylvania respondents said they "somewhat" or "strongly" disapprove of how Trump has handled health care, as did 53 percent of Michigan respondents and 56 percent of Wisconsin respondents. By contrast, only around 35 percent of the respondents in those states "somewhat" or "strongly" approve of Trump's handling of health care.

As bad as those numbers might seem for Trump, his real vulnerabilities become clear when you look into the poll's details. Women really dislike his handling of health care, with 53 percent disapproval in Pennsylvania, 59 percent in Michigan, and 58 percent in Wisconsin. Exit polls in 2016 showed Trump lost to Hillary Clinton among women in each of those states (by 42-55 in Pennsylvania, 42-53 in Michigan, and 43-53 in Wisconsin); he can't afford to lose even more ground.

More striking is how this could play out among independents. In each of these three swing states, a plurality of independents says health care is the issue most important to them--more important even than the economy or national security or climate change. And the numbers don't look good for Trump:

In Pennsylvania, independents made up 20 percent of the 2016 electorate and Trump won them 48-41. In the Great Lakes Poll, he is now losing independents to "the Democratic Party's candidate" by 26-37 (with 36 percent still undecided). And they disapprove of his handling of health care by 52-32.

In Michigan, independents were 29 percent of the 2016 electorate and Trump won them 52-36. In the Great Lakes Poll, he's losing them 23-40 (with 37 percent still undecided.) They disapprove of his handling of health care by 54-26.

In Wisconsin, independents were 30 percent of the 2016 electorate and Trump won them 50-40. In the Great Lakes Poll, he's losing them 22-41 (with 37 percent still undecided). They disapprove of his handling of health care by 62-26.

Among all the respondents in the Great Lakes Poll--that is, not just the independents--Trump is currently losing Pennsylvania by 37-47, Michigan by 34-47, and Wisconsin by 34-48.

Posted by at February 10, 2020 12:00 AM