A new ABC poll has Hillary Clinton climbing to a 12-point lead over Donald Trump. That’s a big jump from the previous ABC/Washington Post poll that had her at +4. So why the big jump? Because voters don’t just vote for the top of the ticket.
The blizzard of sexual assault and groping accusations against Trump have driven Clinton’s margin among college-educated white women to an almost unbelievable 32 point margin. Over all Trump leads with white voters by only 4 points; Romney’s margin was 20 points at the same time for years ago. Trump’s ‘rigged election’ claims and especially his refusal to say he will accept a defeat on November 8th have generated an overwhelmingly negative response.
But here’s the key, the big deal …
The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.
Clearly a significant part of the move from a 4 to 8 percentage point lead for Clinton is a significant number of Republican voters dropping out of the likely voter pool. They appear to be concentrated among non-Trump Republicans who came around to Trump after he won the nomination. Where this matters is not so much in the presidential race – where a Clinton victory seems increasingly likely – but down-ballot in Senate and House races.
In other words, voters who aren’t likely to show up to vote for Trump are not going to show up to vote for down-ballot races; not a lot of voters will just show up to vote for their city council race or congressional candidate and skip the top of the ticket. Meanwhile, Trump’s rants and insults to everyone from Mexicans to beauty pageant contestants has motivated a lot of people to come out to vote against him and anyone associated with him, especially the weasels like Marco Rubio who has condemned his antics with righteous indignation but still plans to vote for him.
The Democrats are taking notice. They are pouring money into down-ballot races, even to the point that President Obama is cutting ads endorsing state legislature races in hopes of getting enough of them in office at the state level to be able to reverse the gerrymandering of districts that happened after the 2010 census.
In a perfect world I’d prefer to vote for someone rather than against someone else, but in this case, I’m happy to do both.