Here’s an interesting demographic group: the people who hate all the presidential candidates, but still end up voting for one of them. For whom do they vote? Politico has an interesting article about this.
Who are these people? According to one pollster, “There are a number of people who hate politics and politicians, and they play somewhat of a swing role in the country.” Let’s call this demographic the haters.
In 2016, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had high disapproval ratings, and almost 20% of voters were “haters”, which makes it a rather significant demographic. In exit polls during the election, Trump got 17% more of the hater vote than Clinton. This was more than enough to change the winner in several of the battleground states.
Indeed, our Electoral College system can turn a 17% lead in a single demographic group into the difference between winning and losing. This is especially true for a demographic like haters, which is spread out over a large number of states.
In the upcoming 2020 election, the haters number around 25% of registered voters, but at the present time Biden leads Trump with haters by a 40 point margin. There are a number of reasons for this. First, Clinton was very unpopular, while Biden’s approval ratings are significantly better. As one Republican consultant put it, “There’s no way Joe Biden will be as bad a candidate as Hillary Clinton.”
Second, and more importantly, haters tend to vote against the status quo. In 2016, Hillary Clinton was strongly identified with the status quo, while Trump was the opposite, promising to shake things up. For 2020, it is now Trump who represents the status quo, and the current status is pretty bad.
Disclaimer: Just because this is a good sign for Joe Biden, don’t assume the election is in the bag (like many of us did in 2016). It is still 173 days away and as we have just seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, things can change dramatically in just a week. At this point in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton had a larger polling lead over Trump than Biden has now. Biden has not been the (presumptive) Democratic nominee very long, and Trump has just barely started to attack him. Trump’s campaign manager has bragged about how much money they have that they will use to attack Biden, calling it a “death star” of negative advertising. I am expecting the ads to be especially nasty, as Trump can’t run on the economy anymore, and their attacks on Biden’s son Hunter didn’t go anywhere. And reality nor facts will not limit them.