2020 is not 2016: A clear picture

By Devyn Shea (TheLorian)

In 2016, President Donald Trump surprised political pundits across the country by winning the presidency. This year many think he is in trouble of losing re-election. By comparing the two elections we can highlight the differences between 2016 and 2020.

In 2016, both candidates were highly unfavorable. According to averages by RealClearPolitics by Election Day 2016, Hillary Clinton’s favorability and unfavourability was 41.8 percent and 54.4 percent respectively. Donald Trump’s favorability and unfavourability was 37.5 percent and 58.5 percent. This shows that most Americans found both candidates unappealing. Averages by RealClearPolitics as of Oct. 27 show that Trump’s favorability and unfavourability have changed. The President’s favorability is at 41.6 percent and his unfavourability is at 55.0 percent. On the contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden’s favorability is at 50.0 percent and his unfavourability is at 44.0 percent. Joe Biden has a much larger favorability than Clinton did in 2016, while Trump has an increase half the size of Democrats from 2016-2020.

When it comes to third parties in 2016, there were several favorable candidates. In 2016, former Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian candidate for President, Gary Johnson was polling around 5 percent according to FiveThirtyEight. The same polling mechanism had Hillary at nearly 46 percent and Trump at nearly 42 percent. In some other polls, Green Party candidate Jill Stein was getting 2 percent and other third-party candidates were getting 1 percent, such as Evan McMullin. On Election Day, many voters ditched third party candidates. Johnson only took 3 percent of the vote in 2016, Stein took 1 percent, McMullin received less than 1 percent, while Trump received 46 percent and Clinton received 48 percent. This year 270towin gives the Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen 1 percent, while RealClearPolitics gives her 1.6 percent. For the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins, he received 0.6 percent in polling done by 270towin and 0.4 percent by RealClearPolitics. According to NBC News, third party voters from 2016 are backing Biden over Trump by a 2-1 margin.

In 2016, many cites like FiveThirtyEight noticed that they had wrongly predicted the election through national polls, which showed Hillary Clinton up. This year most polling and prediction organizations are predicting the election by state, not nationally.  So, the first focus has been on what states Trump won in 2016 that put him over 270 electoral votes. These states are Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

Four years ago Michigan had narrowly voted for Trump, polls had shown Clinton at 47 percent and Trump at 43 percent, according to RealClearPolitics. Trump had gotten the votes of a lot of undecided with the total results being 47 percent for Clinton and 47.3 percent for Trump. In 2018, Michigan reelected their senator and elected a new governor by somewhat comfortable margins, both of these races were won by Democrats. Polls in Michigan show Biden with an average of 51.4 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight, and have Trump at 42.7 percent in the state. Most political pundits think this state isn’t a safe win for Democrats, but a most likely one, which means Trump is losing his base of states that put him over the finish line in 2016.

For Wisconsin, it is similar to Michigan. Polls showed Clinton at roughly 47 percent, she got that number, but Trump did overwhelmingly well with undecided voters going from 40 percent in the polls to receiving 47 percent on Election Day. This year, however, Biden has been consistently above 50 percent since September. Right now, Biden is at 51.9 percent with Trump at 43.3 percent.

Pennsylvania is the outliers of these states. Trump was at 44.7 percent in the polls in 2016 with Clinton at 46.8 percent. Trump won the state with 48.2 percent of the vote. This year he is at what the polls thought he would get four years ago, which is roughly 45 percent. Biden is at 50 percent. Although Biden leads, many undecided voters could decide the race in Pennsylvania. For other states in the union that Trump won in 2016 are now swing states such as: Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Ohio, and even Iowa which Trump had won by nearly 10 percent.

Religious voter demographics are also different this year. In 2016, a majority of Catholics voted for Trump. According to PEW Research, Trump won 52 percent of the Catholic vote, while Clinton won 45 percent. This year PEW looked into that same category and found that Biden lead Catholics with 51 percent compared to Trump’s 44 percent. When it comes to Protestant voters Trump has dropped 4 percent and is now at 54 percent compared to 58 percent in 2016. Trump has also dropped roughly 3 percent in Evangelical support, going from 81 percent to 78 percent. Mormon voters are also somewhat turning on Trump. In 2012, Mormons voted for Romney with 78 percent of the vote. In 2016, that number had dropped to 61 percent for Trump (Evan McMullin, a Mormon, had campaigned heavily in Utah in 2016 and won over 20 percent of the vote). This year Trump is polling at 51 percent in the heavily Mormon populated state of Utah. Another state with a large amount of Mormons is Arizona, which pundits say the Mormon population dissatisfied with Trump could swing the state to Biden. Overall, Trump has had slight decreases and other major decreases in support from certain religious groups.

There is one thing that can be taken from this information. With a poor approval rating, a lack of popular third party candidates, and a depletion in base of supporters. President Trump has a lot to worry about on Election Day.

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