Of all the Republican candidates, Donald Trump performs worst against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the polls, trailing each of them even though other Republicans, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich, would likely beat the Democrats in November. No Republican has won the presidential election without also carrying Virginia since 1924. This is bad news for Donald Trump, because he is staggeringly unpopular in Virginia, and massively trails Clinton and Sanders in recent Virginia polls.
According to a Christopher Newport University poll released on February 16, “Marco Rubio has the highest favorable rating among all candidates (44%),” with a 38% disapproval rating, while Trump has a staggering 64% disapproval rate, with only 30% approving of him. Trump is almost certain to lose Virginia in November if he is the Republican nominee for President (which appears increasingly likely). Yet, he will likely win the March 1 Virginia primary, since he leads Rubio among Virginia Republican primary voters; he has the support 28% of them, compared to 22% for Rubio and 19% for Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Things are even more grim for Trump in the most recent Roanoke College poll, “Potential Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump (52%-35%) and is statistically tied with Republican hopefuls Ted Cruz (45%-41%) and Marco Rubio (46%-43%), according to The Roanoke College Poll. Democratic contender Bernie Sanders leads all three Republican front-runners, including Trump (55%-33%). . .Donald Trump’s unfavorable rating is the highest of all contenders (63%, with 22% favorable, and 15% mixed/don’t know). ” Clinton’s chances of winning the Democratic nomination are estimated at over 80%.
Clinton’s massive lead over Trump in Virginia is an exceedingly bad sign. Virginia is a swing state where the state legislature is controlled by the GOP, but the governor is a Democrat. Its competitiveness is illustrated by the fact that in 2014, voters nearly unseated Democratic Senator Mark Warner, a former Virginia governor. If Trump cannot do well in Virginia, that is a bad sign for his ability to carry swing states and thus win the majority of votes in the electoral college needed to win the November election.
As we explained earlier, Trump performs even worse in most swing states than his national numbers would suggest (although not, ironically, in Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida). That means that even if he could erase Hillary Clinton’s five-point lead over him nationally, he would still probably lose most of the swing states and thus the election. Trump could lose the election in the Electoral College even if he somehow won the popular vote. And it is very unlikely he will win the popular vote: no candidate with negatives as high as Trump’s has ever won the November election.
Thus, the chance of the Republican presidential nominee winning in November is only 10-15% if Trump is nominated, compared to at least 60% if Marco Rubio or John Kasich were nominated.
As I noted earlier, a vote for Trump in the Republican primary may effectively be a vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election. Nominating Trump would not be the first time Republican primary voters nominated a candidate who went on to lose the general election, rather than an obviously more electable alternative. Republican primary voters did just that in nominating defeated Senatorial candidates Christine O’Donnell (Delaware), Todd Akin (in Missouri), and Sharron Angle (in Nevada). I warned against those nominations at the time, to no avail, despite having correctly predicted election results for many years. These candidates’ loss resulted in the Democrats expanding their control of the U.S. Senate. That in turn made it easier for the Obama administration to impose radical policies and get away with more abuses of power.