(Bloomberg Businessweek) — In a Fox News interview on Sunday, President Trump made a provocative claim. “Just like last time,” he said, alluding to the 2016 election, “Bernie Sanders’s people are going to vote for me because of what I’ve done on trade.”
Trump’s contention that he’ll attract Sanders voters is based on the notion that he’s an economic populist and that voters on the left will overlook his record on race, immigration, and women, and spurn Joe Biden at the polls. The idea that Trump could win over a meaningful percentage of Sanders voters and left populists first originated with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, who put this theory into action with disastrous results that led to his ouster from the White House.
Unbowed, Trump has revived it. So is he really poised to attract Sanders voters?
In a word: no. According to a tracking poll from Drew Linzer of the data analytics firm Civiqs, people who supported Sanders in the Democratic primaries now favor Biden over Trump 84% to 4%. And Trump’s 4% is unlikely to grow: 94% of Sanders supporters have an unfavorable view of the president.
Bloomberg Businessweek readers will recall that our recent Election Issue spotlighted a potentially important group of swing voters we called “double haters”—people who say they dislike both Trump and Biden, but still intend to vote in November. In September, this group favored Biden 58% to 4%. If Trump had any hope of winning Sanders voters, his best shot would be with those who already dislike Biden.
Linzer’s tracking poll also tracks double haters, so I asked him to provide updated numbers. He reported that they now favor Biden over Trump by 57% to 8%. Surely, that bump from 4% to 8% has to be a small positive for Trump, right?
As Linzer explained, although the percentage of Trump-leaning double haters has increased since September, the actual number of them dropped “because more people are giving Biden a favorable rating.” In other words, some Bernie voters who were predisposed to dislike both candidates have not only failed to warm to Trump, but they have actively developed favorable views of Biden to the point that they no longer qualify as double haters.
If Trump has designs on winning over Democrats, he’d probably do best to look elsewhere.
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