Donald Trump might be in denial about who won the 2020 election, but his pollsters aren’t. Two of them have performed autopsies on his defeat, and those autopsies are now public. One of his pollsters, John McLaughlin, published an analysis in Newsmax in November. Another report, written by consultant Tony Fabrizio, was posted on Monday by Politico. Neither pollster blames the former president, but their numbers tell the story: Trump destroyed himself.
The autopsies identified two reasons why Trump should have won. First, based on self-identification, the 2020 electorate was significantly more Republican than the 2016 electorate. Second, public satisfaction with the economy favored the incumbent. Both pollsters found that people who voted in 2020 thought Trump would handle the economy better than Joe Biden would. McLaughlin’s analysis, based on his postelection survey of people who voted in 2020, noted that 61 percent of these voters said they were better off than they had been four years earlier. Despite this, Trump managed to lose one-third of the 61 percent. “Fully 20% of all voters thought they were better off today than four years ago and did not vote for President Trump,” McLaughlin wrote.
Trump’s tax cuts had been hugely successful. After tax incomes were up massively. Yet he still managed to lose. He blew it.
Fabrizio noted that collectively, in the five states that flipped to Biden, Trump outpolled Biden among people who had voted in 2016. What killed Trump were the new voters. Biden won them by 14 points in the five decisive states.
Fabrizio found that in the 10 battleground states, “majorities of voters … prioritized stopping the spread of [the virus] over re-opening the economy.” The virus “was the top issue” in these states, the pollster observed, “and Biden carried those voters nearly 3 to 1.” In the exit polls and in McLaughlin’s survey, voters said by significant margins that Biden would handle the virus better than Trump.
Fabrizio flagged two particularly foolish mistakes in Trump’s response to the virus. One was ridiculing masks. In the 10 battleground states, voters who favored mask mandates (Biden’s position) outnumbered those who opposed mask mandates (Trump’s position) by a ratio of 3 to 1. The enormous pro-mask constituency went to Biden by about 30 points, on average, in the five states that flipped to him. Trump’s other dumb move was his persistent slander against Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In the five states that flipped to Biden, 72 percent of voters approved of Fauci’s job performance, and 63 percent of those voters went to Biden.
If you’re on 40% job approval, you don’t keep having a go at the guy on 72% job approval. Dumb.