Neil Newhouse of Public Opinion Strategies ranks as one of the nation’s most respected pollsters. In 2012, he was Mitt Romney’s poll-man.
So when he breezes into town — and, fun fact, he has family here — we make time to see his latest presentation.
That came Friday before a large crowd at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
As usual, there were a lot of takeaways:
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▪ Election 2016 shapes up as a “security election” — both economic and personal — with Americans saying jobs, terrorism, declines in income and ISIS rank as the most important issues facing the country.
▪ That suggests, Newhouse said, that U.S. trade policy will remain a hot issue this fall.
▪ Frustration with Congress is such that the days of “hating Congress, but loving your own congressman” may be over.
▪ Hillary Clinton’s “honest and trustworthy” ratings have plummeted in key states since March.
▪ Both Clinton and Donald Trump have sharpy negative images with most voters, and that hasn’t changed in recent months despite a pair of national political conventions designed to show them both off. Those numbers are way higher than other recent major-party nominees.
▪ Clinton’s image improved as a result of her convention. Trump’s did not.
▪ Here’s what real voters say about the two in focus groups. Of Trump: “He acts like a 2 year old. I have a 2 year old. I see the similarities.” Of Clinton: “I think they are all liars, but I feel like she gets caught a lot.”
▪ Trump’s big challenge is that just 81 percent of Republicans are backing him while 90 percent of Democrats are behind Clinton.
▪ Trump leads among white voters by 45-40 percent. He trails among Hispanics by 14-76 percent and African Americans by 1-91 percent. (You read that right: ONE percent support among black voters).
▪ Growing support for third party contenders complicates Trump’s path to the White House.
▪ To win 270 electoral votes, Trump must hang onto three states moving into play: Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, Newhouse said. He must win one among Utah, Iowa and Nevada. And he must sweep Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. But Trump trails in all three of those “must-win” states.
▪ Still, Trump’s core message of a nation under crisis resonates, Newhouse said, far more than Clinton’s insistence that America is not on the wane.
Some final notes:
“Nothing in this campaign has been predictable, and it's a good bet that the next 80 days hold some surprises in store,” Newhouse said.
“The election is likely to change little. DC will likely still be divided.”