By Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post
(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)
President Trump has not been irrational on one topic: He really does not want to run against former vice president Joe Biden. Even in a state Trump won in 2016, Arizona, he is in serious trouble if Biden is his opponent.
The OH Predictive Insights Arizona poll shows “Biden leading President Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup by 6 points. However, the same poll shows Trump beating Sen. Bernie Sanders by 7 points.” Here is the critical point: “The reason for this performance gap between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden is that less than three-quarters of the respondents who said they would vote for Biden in a head to head match up with Donald Trump also said they would vote for Sanders if he were to be the nominee.” (Emphasis added.)
Likewise, the Univision/Arizona State University poll shows Biden’s favorable/unfavorable rating (48 percent to 41 percent) far rosier than Trump’s (46 percent to 54 percent). Biden beats Trump by eight percentage points in a head-to-head match-up, while Sanders leads by five points. By a 63 percent to 16 percent margin, voters are less likely to vote for someone identified as a socialist. (56 percent to 24 percent if a “democratic socialist”). Against Sanders, Biden leads by a huge margin of 51 percent to 34 percent.
Part of Trump’s problem certainly is his stance on immigration. In Arizona 73 percent of voters favor a path to citizenship for the “dreamers,” while 55 percent oppose a wall on the southern border. By a 52 percent to 48 percent margin, voters in Arizona think Trump should have been impeached and removed. Some 59 percent say Trump’s policies have not benefited them personally at all or only a little bit. Noteworthy: 52 percent say they will not vote for Trump under any circumstances.
These figures undermine the notion that the only way to beat Trump is through capturing or recapturing white male voters in the Upper Midwest. With numbers like these from Arizona, a road through the Sun Belt or South (e.g., Texas, Florida, Georgia) could very well put Biden over 270 electoral votes.
Biden’s strength in Arizona among Hispanics (61 percent would choose him over Trump) and with women (52 percent to 38 percent) also suggests that he might maximize his already strong position with these two groups of voters by putting someone from the region on the ticket, perhaps a prominent Latina such as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham or Sen. Catherine Masto Cortez (D-Nev.).
There is a Senate race this year in Arizona as well, which provides more bad news for Republicans. Democrat Mark Kelly leads appointed incumbent Republican Martha McSally by a 48 percent to 36 percent margin.
Finally, a word about young voters is in order. In the primary, Sanders certainly does better than Biden with these voters. However, in a general election, these voters passionately line up behind a generic (64 percent to 29 percent) Democrat or behind Biden (62 percent to 28 percent) specifically. Biden certainly would want these voters to turn out in strong numbers, but the eventual nominee will have a big asset in luring all parts of the Democratic coalition: Trump will be on the ballot.