The new analysis is damning evidence, from a source Republicans will find hard to dismiss, that Trump is lying about a stolen election simply to hide his shame over blowing his reelection.
by Will Marshall, PPI President
Donald Trump reportedly plans to defend himself in the Senate impeachment trial by rehashing his bogus “stolen election” claims. To debunk this noxious myth, the prosecution has a new witness it can call: Trump’s own pollster.
Tony Fabrizio oversaw polling for the former president’s 2020 campaign. He’s just issued an unsparing post-mortem on how Trump actually lost to Joe Biden. The story has nothing to do with fraudulent voting and everything to do with Trump’s compulsive mendacity and inept response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on an analysis of exit polls from 10 key battleground states, five that flipped to Biden, and five that held for Trump, Fabrizio found “massive swings against POTUS” among independent voters. “Racially, POTUS suffered his greatest erosion with White voters, particularly White Men in both state groups,” the report says.
In the five states that flipped to Biden (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia), Trump’s margin among white voters fell from 23 percent in 2016 to 15 percent in 2020, with white men defecting at a higher rate than women. Trump also lost ground with white voters in the five battleground states he won in 2016 (Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas), albeit by smaller margins.
Fabrizio’s findings shred Trump’s fantasies about being cheated out of victory by a Democratic-deep state-media conspiracy, especially his allegations of ballot-stuffing in big cities with many black voters. They spotlight the truth that would shatter Trump’s fragile ego if he tried to face it: He blew a winnable race by convincing many white voters that he couldn’t be trusted to tell them the truth and couldn’t competently manage the pandemic.
Ironically, this conclusion also could prove discomfiting to the progressive left. Many activists have convinced themselves Biden won the election thanks to a tsunami of minority turnout. However, Fabrizio’s analysis suggests that wasn’t the decisive factor in these 10 pivotal states. On the contrary, he notes that Trump made double-digit gains with Hispanics while slightly exceeding his 2016 performance with black voters.
In the states that flipped, Trump lost ground (-8 points) among voters over 65, while older voters in the other five states stayed with him. But the ex-president’s most dramatic losses came among college-educated whites, who shifted 14 points toward Biden in the states that flipped and 18 points in those Trump held. So what happened?
The short answer: coronavirus. Voters in all 10 states said combatting the pandemic was a higher priority than handling the economy. Those who picked Covid as their top issue favored Biden by 73–26 in the flipped states and nearly the same margin in the states Trump held.
Conversely, Trump’s strength was the economy, even though the election occurred amid the worst recession since the Depression. Voters gave Trump better marks for handling the economy, 51–47 in the flipped states and 54–43 in the states he held.
In a sign of how badly Trump misjudged the public temper on Covid, mask mandates won overwhelming support (3–1) from voters in all 10 states. And while Trump was in negative territory on handling Covid in all the states, the man he itched to fire — Dr. Anthony Fauci — “garnered nearly a 3–1 positive job approval on the handling of CV overall with Fauci detractors voting overwhelmingly for POTUS while Fauci supporters voted for Biden by wide margins, especially in “Flipped’ states,” according to the report.
After Covid, the issue of character seemed to weigh most on voters’ minds. Asked which candidates were “honest and trustworthy,” they chose Biden by a crushing 18-point margin in the flipped states, while Trump narrowly edged Biden out (52–48) in the five states he won twice. Conservative pundits who dismissed Trump’s constant and well-documented lying as inconsequential or “performative” missed the demoralizing effect it had on a significant chunk of the people they considered his “base.”
Finally, the Fabrizio report makes clear that Trump’s defeat was very much a personal one. It notes that in all 10 states the 2020 electorate was more Republican than in 2016. That’s why Republicans overperformed in Congressional and state contests even as Biden was trouncing Trump nationally by more than seven million votes. Trump probably helped boost Republican turnout, but there is cosmic justice in the fact that he was one of the few Republican candidates who didn’t benefit from it.
We don’t yet know whether Trump has read Fabrizio’s report. That’s another benefit of the ex-president’s exile from Twitter. But it’s another piece of damning evidence, from a source Republicans will find hard to dismiss, that Trump is lying about a stolen election simply to hide his shame over blowing his reelection.