The new Washington Post/ABC poll released Wednesday has tons of dreadful news for Donald Trump, who is viewed unfavorably by 70 percent of its respondents. But it isn’t all rosy for Hillary Clinton either.
First off, the poll shows that Clinton is viewed unfavorably by a remarkable 75 percent of white men and is only viewed favorably by 23 percent of that demographic. Now, Trump’s numbers among white men are also negative, but only slightly — 46 percent view him favorably, and 52 percent view him unfavorably.
Second, according to the poll, white women aren't particularly bowled over by the first woman major party presidential nominee — indeed, they strongly dislike both candidates. Clinton’s numbers are slightly better than Trump’s here — 39 percent of white women view Clinton favorably and 60 percent unfavorably, compared with 33 percent and 67 percent for Trump.
Now, the conventional wisdom for this election has generally been that Clinton can afford to lose white voters badly to Trump, so long as he fails to make gains among Hispanic and other nonwhite voters. Indeed, Clinton is viewed more positively than Trump overall because of her strength and his incredible weakness among both nonwhite men and women. And exit polls in 2012 showed Obama losing white men 35-62 and white women 42-56, after all.
However, this conventional wisdom has been called into question by a recent analysis from the Upshot’s Nate Cohn. After looking at data from a Census Bureau survey and a voter file collected by Democratic consultants, Cohn concluded that the exit polls present a misleading demographic picture, and that the 2012 electorate was in reality a few points whiter than they showed.
The implication there is that, contra the narrative, President Obama didn’t win reelection mainly because of demographic shifts, or because he dominated among nonwhite voters. Instead, he did significantly better among white and specifically white working-class voters than exit polls showed. Which means that another Democratic candidate who does much worse among whites could be in big trouble.
Now, poll averages currently show Clinton ahead by about 6 points, so there’s no need to panic about any of this. But it’s something to keep an eye on. Because though the nonwhite population has indeed grown, it doesn’t seem to have grown enough yet to give Democrats a clear advantage if the election becomes incredibly polarized along racial lines.