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Quinnipiac's Tim Malloy On Trump's Tanking Approval

Donald Trump at the Flynn Theatre
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Donald Trump at the Flynn Theatre

President Donald Trump appears to be in acute danger of losing his re-election bid, according to a poll released by Quinnipiac University . In the national survey of voters, Trump’s job approval is down to 36 percent, and voters give former Vice President Joe Biden higher marks on every issue pollsters asked about. Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy says there’s no silver lining for the White House four months from Election Day. Malloy spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus.

What is the state of the race in your latest poll, as we sit four months out?

This is a devastating survey for the president, across the board. From the character issues, personal traits, and then of course, as you just mentioned, the lead that Biden now has. So, where to begin on this? There'sjust no upside whatsoever.

We're talking about a national number, right? When the headline says that Biden's up over Trump 52-37%, that's among registered voters nationally?

Yes, we spent five days, sometimes six, calling nationally. Computer generated phone calls called cell phones all over the country. So yeah, it's a national poll.

And how instructive is that? In terms of where things were earlier in the race, once Biden locked up the nomination.

Well, it was that, that happened, of course, and then coronavirus. And since March, the President has been just plummeting across the board on every issue, including popularity, approval rating. So it isn't, it wasn't just the arrival of Biden, but it was also the Coronavirus. Biden, as you know, has been, you know, largely silent, just sort of watching this go by. And Trump, you know, let's be honest, as has not done a lot of things have made him more popular with Americans, certainly not the COVID virus. And the economy is going south. So it's been a sort of perfect, imperfect storm for Trump.

As we speak, there's a lot of news out of the campaign because Trump has removed his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and named another one. Is there time for someone to dig out of a hole like this?

You know, there's not a lot of time at all. And the president, and this is not a partisan, believe me, thought. It's just that he never seems to do anything that improves his, his standing. So no, there's not a whole lot of time and when, when his main card, the thing that he had forever, from day one is handling the economy is now going south on him and Americans look at Biden would do a better job. I'm not saying that's a death knell, but it is a significantly bad situation for him when he's lost the economy.

Let's drill down into that a little bit more. What does the polls show about what Americans think of the president's handling of the economy today?

44% of the people we polled believe he's doing a good job or approve of it. And 53% say no. Now, in June, it was 42-45%. So this is taken a precipitous drop. It's the worst score yet, net score on the economy since August of 2017. This is all happened pretty quickly.

And also, his overall approval is down to its lowest spot since August of 2017. Right?

Yeah, I mean, the last time it was this low is when he was talking about getting rid of Obamacare. He has a negative score, you would say negative 36, 60. In other words, his approval rating is only 36%, 60% of people don't approve. That's a six point drop in the last month. So you know, it is just, it's like a freight train that's careening down the tracks. And how do you slow it down? How do you change course? And, and every single indicator we use, on his family, the military, foreign policy, healthcare, race relations, they're highly negative too. So there's just no- Nothing for him to grab onto, especially now the economy is gone.

You may not have this data right in front of you, but I can't think of a time when a president had an approval rating as low as 36%.

George Bush did, during the Iraq war, over a certain period. But no and I- You know, I don't know that everybody, all poll pollsters, ask all the questions we ask. But I've never seen numbers like this. On the character issues that are so low, you know, on handling a crisis, he's, he's way behind. Biden, healthcare Coronavirus response, racial inequality- Because everything is a negative. So the answer your question, I'm sorry to go long winded, is I I've never seen anything like this either.

Let's talk about some other issues that you asked about. What do Americans think about wearing masks?

Americans, from day one have been overwhelmingly supportive of wearing masks. 2:1, 3:1, and they've always said that the president should wear a mask, because we've asked that question- Not this time around, but Americans believe the president should be wearing a mask, which apparently he did the other day, but has routinely said he's not for it. 7 in 10 Americans think everyone should be required to wear a face mask in public, that's a big number. And 73% say President Trump should wear face mask. So yeah, I mean, there's been no problem getting Americans to back this.

What about the question of sending students back to schools this fall?

This has been pretty much a constant, but I think it's intensified even more. 2:1, they disapprove of the way President Trump is handling the reopening of schools. 2:1, they think it would be unsafe to send students to elementary, middle or high school. And a slightly smaller majority 59% to 34% think would be unsafe to send students to college. So this is another one, that across the board, Americans are saying "Don't send these kids or young adults in the classrooms."

In a related issue, you asked about how voters perceive Dr. Tony Fauci, who has come under a new round of criticism, either directed by the White House or not. But in any event, we did see the op-ed by Peter Navarro get published. 


What do voters think about Tony Fauci, vis-à-vis the White House?

That he is out of the loop and de-stabled in the White House. But it's clear from the numbers that the Americans would like to have Dr. Fauci back on call. You know, two-thirds of Americans don't trust the information President Trump is providing about the Coronavirus. But a huge margin say they trust Anthony Fauci. So that is a non-unequivocal great support for Fauci.

Your job is not to be a political adviser. But looking at the numbers, if Trump brought Fauci back into the fold and put a mask on, according to your poll, that would be in line with what a lot of Americans think should happen.

You have to wonder what they're discussing they're going to do next because this is a polling we get, that poll, and the other ones aren't a whole lot better. Well, I wouldn't know what to tell the president right now to do. Wearing a mask would be a good thing, just because it just would be a good thing. Fauci is sort of back in the mix. You know it appears at least as of yesterday, but it's hard to keep up. As you know, every day is breaking news.

It really is. Last thing. You have asked over the years about Confederate symbols, at times when you know these issues have flared up, probably after the Charlottesville incident.


But this is back in the news in a big way. Now, a lot of these statues are coming down and so on. What do voters think about taking statues down and Confederate symbols down?

I'm going to throw some numbers at you again, but let's get, 54% of voters say they support removing Confederate statues in public places and 40% are against it. 51% are okay with renaming military bases named after Confederate generals, 42% against. And I think importantly, this is the real question, 56% see the Confederate flags and symbol of racism, 35% see it as a symbol of southern pride. So whether it's a reflection of what's happened in the last few months here, whether this is what people always felt really felt, we haven't asked the question in a long time, but that's a pretty overwhelming support for removing Confederate symbols.

Let me give you a hard one to end on, if you don't mind. President Trump won the White House without winning the popular vote and had a razor-thin margin in some key states to take the Electoral College. Could that happen again? I mean, based on what you're seeing.

I mean, yeah, it could. But I mean, something dramatic would have to happen. He's in a lot of trouble right now. I mean, one of the things I didn't point out is there's been a 14 point swing in independents toward Biden. So what's happened here, there's, it, it's almost like a glass that's filled up and flowed over now. I guess it, yeah, it could. But there's something different in the air right now, is the best I can say. I don't want to give an opinion. But it's, he's in a huge uphill fight, climb, with 16 weeks to go.

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