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Poll: If the 2020 presidential election were held now, what would happen?

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

First let me encourage you not to attach much importance to the poll results I’m about to pass along. It might be hard, but try.

Morning Consult/Politico ran trial heats on whom voters would prefer if the next presidential election were held today (actually, last week), testing various possible Democratic candidates against the current incumbent.

Here’s how it came out:

Former Sen. and Vice President Joe Biden beats Donald Trump: 43-31 with 22 percent “don’t know.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump 44-32 with 24 percent “don’t know.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren beats Trump 34-30 with 36 don’t know.

Trump beats New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker 29-27 with 44 don’t know.

Trump beats California Sen. Kamala Harris 29-26 with 45 don’t know.

Trump also beats New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; former Attorney General Eric Holder; Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti; Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; and U.S. Rep. John Delaney. But in every case, Trump gets between 28 and 30 percent as the “don’t know” rises higher and higher.

Obviously, there is nothing remotely bankable about any of these numbers. The election will not be held tomorrow; it will be held more than two years from tomorrow. Obviously, the steady rise in the “don’t know” quotient reflects that many respondents know little or nothing about the last few Democrats tested.

What is impressive is that, in all 11 hypothetical matchups, Trump scores between 27 and 31 percent. That is lower than the 42-43 percent who have said, over recent months, that they approve of Trump’s performance as president. The 27-31 percent who said they would vote for him against all of the potential Democratic nominees mentioned by Morning Consult might be called the core of his base, the ones who will stick with him pretty much whomever he runs against and perhaps whatever he does and almost whatever (fake) news comes out about him.

The fact that he loses trial heat matchups, and by a fairly large margin, against his better-known potential rivals, combined with the fact that his numbers remain below 30 against all of the lesser-known potential Dem nominees might be called worrisome, or worse than worrisome, to his admirers.

So much will happen between now and 2020 – including the obviously much more imminent midterms that are now less than three months off – that, I repeat, it would be silly to attach too much importance to these matchups. But I thought you might want to see them.

The numbers are displayed graphically at Morning Consult’s site, here.

Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 08/23/2018 - 08:22 am.

    Get off your couches Democrats and VOTE!

    The worst thing the Democrats can do in the 2018 and 2020 elections is get over confident and then not vote. That is how we got Trump in the first place. There are truck loads of people who historically don’t vote. An election judge, in the last primary, told me they were told to prepare for 20% turn out – pathetic. You hear with some elections there was a record turn out. Record turn out is still pathetic because the record only exceeded a previous pathetic turn out. We have become complacent as America slips lower and lower in comparison with other countries. We have a corrupt political system because of voter complacency. Hold your political leaders accountable and VOTE!

  2. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/23/2018 - 08:56 am.

    It’s a foolish poll, but notice that the most well-known name in the poll is “Trump” who maxes out as a certainty of 30% of voters.

    Keep aiming for that base, Mr. Trump !

    There are two intervening years to come and with the news-cycle being a matter of a day or two there is certain to be a stumble or two on the road to 2020.

    Who knows, Trump may be “President for Life” by then–or he may be in jail–or he may be the triumphant, popular winner of a nuclear war with both Iran and North Korea–or he may be presiding over a run-away inflation-ridden country with skyrocketing deficits with deep Medicare and Social Security cuts.

    That’s life in America, these days.

  3. Submitted by jim hughes on 08/23/2018 - 09:34 am.

    what did we learn?

    If there’s one thing we learned in 2016 it’s that polls are meaningless. Especially ones like these, where we’re supposed to imagine an election without campaigns.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 08/23/2018 - 10:00 am.

      What we did learn was that it is possible to lose the popular vote by 2.1% but wind up as president. The polls were within 1% of the final percentage difference between the candidates–but that was the popular vote, not the electoral college vote.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/23/2018 - 11:01 am.

      Another Thing We learned

      Trump’s support is not all that deep.

      Actually, I think that may be all we learned from it. It’s still an important lesson.

  4. Submitted by Tim Smith on 08/23/2018 - 09:38 am.

    thank you so much

    but this is really completely useless “information”. There are an awful lot of very shady polls this election season

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/23/2018 - 02:34 pm.

      Rigged Elections

      This information would be useful if it lead to a major overhaul or elimination of the Electoral College so that the winner of the election becomes president..

      • Submitted by Darryl Carter on 08/23/2018 - 03:51 pm.

        Electoral College overhaul

        In Article II, Section 1, paragraph 2, are the words “Senators and”. The same pair appears in Amendment XXIII. Rescind those two words from both places, and the Electoral College takes a giant step toward CITIZEN equity in electing the President.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/24/2018 - 01:58 pm.

          The problem is

          That changing the Constitution requires the approval of two thirds of the states; a very high bar.

  5. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/23/2018 - 10:39 am.

    The 27% true believer base….

    Will be too busy baking cakes with hacksaws and files in them to even consider voting Mike Pence for President in 2020.

  6. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 08/23/2018 - 11:10 am.

    too early

    Polls this far in advance mean little or nothing, since so much can occur in a 2-year period.

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 08/23/2018 - 12:59 pm.

    I dunno. It seems fairly significant that there’s this rock-hard Trump core vote, and not much else. Polls this early can’t tell us much, but they seem to be sayhing something about America, incuding Independents: people don’t much like Trump.

    And that’s before a lot of what Trump has been “for” achieves some real negtive results. The deficit, for example, that will lead Republicans to scream that we have to cut the social safety net (Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps and Obamacare) to cut the deficit they created with the 2017 tax cuts for the rich. Plus the destruction he has wrought internationally with our former allies–all of whom are blithely going about making stronger alternative trade and defense ties among themselves that leave the U.S out completely!–and Mueller’s revelations of how corrupt Trump has been politically and in his business life.

    There will come a point at which Trump supporters–the ones who read and think, rather than respond with just their gut–will abandon him. That 27-32% Trump “core” will be even smaller. Lovely to see that against a Democrat–ANY Democrat–polls show that the core is so small. Whew.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/23/2018 - 09:05 pm.

      The final determiner…

      I believe that the fundamental oddity of the last election is that both candidates did not fill a basic expectation of all of our candidates: someone we view as likable, the ability to act if not be self effacing, honest and trustworthy, someone we would like as a friend. Think about every Presidential race since Truman V Dewey and the individual with these traits won every time with the possible exception of our own HHH V Nixon.

      If its Trump vs anyone in 2020, virtually every potential candidate will beat Trump on these characteristics. And if he were a little short on these traits in 2016, his behavior since screams near ZERO on these traits.

  8. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 08/23/2018 - 02:10 pm.

    What worries me are the high “don’t know” figures.

    Call me cynical, but every place I’ve ever been in my life is of three types of people: good, bad, and ‘go with the flow’. We aspire to or accept one of the first two for some including ourselves or others, but the third describes most of us unfortunately; that’s no way for us to ‘keep’ a republic as Ben Franklin challenged us to do after the first constitutional convention.

    We lost that republic long before we elected Trump and until both voters and candidates start talking about how to get it back, we will see ambivalent polls like these: all must aspire to be at least a good country instead of the “shithole” into which Trump and his fellow Republicans and some Democrats have turned us.

    The alternative to Trump cannot be a person to show the clear and overwhelming abhorrence most Americans have of that for which he stands; it must be a platform that all can see and understand as the roadmap to return us to a functioning democratic republic.

  9. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/24/2018 - 11:00 pm.


    In many respects, a more interesting poll would be how Trump stands up against potential primary challengers.

    • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 08/25/2018 - 12:56 pm.

      Surely, you jest, Harris!In

      Surely, you jest, Harris!

      In a time when no Congressional Republican except those who have “retired” and no longer aspire to national office can even dare to say anything negative about a Trump Tweet, or Trump action, or Trump statement, you expect any Republican to come out as a potential RIVAL to this guy?

      They are all terrified of what he might do to them if they speak out. Exception: Mitch McConnell, who keeps his disdain for Trump under his hat of silence while he gets the Appeals Court judges he wants and he sees that Trump’s Cabinet members (as corrupt a bunch as ever we’ve had in the history of the country) are effectively doing the dirty work of destroying whatever agency it is they head.

      There are no statesmen left in today’s Republican Party who might care more about the nation and its citizens than they do about themselves.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/26/2018 - 10:23 am.

        A Blue Wave

        in 2018 might cause a lot of Republicans to reconsider where their future lies in 2020.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 08/27/2018 - 10:17 am.

          Returns Accepted?

          Once you’ve sold your soul, can you get it back?

          No one wants to be the first to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

  10. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/27/2018 - 08:13 pm.

    And the end..

    April 1, 2019

    The White House
    Washington, DC

    My fellow Americans, It is with great sadness that I must the report that the rigged witch hunt has achieved its’ goals. I am first and foremost a loyal and steadfast father to my children. It now appears that my children, who have been unmercifully targeted by the 17 angry Democrats running the rigged witch hunt, now face criminal and civil charges for routine glitches that are consistently overlooked and ignored when done by Democrats. It is now apparent to me that a world class, successful business person cannot succeed as President of the United States. The entrenched bureaucracy of this country will not allow it. To save my children and my business I will resign the Presidency in an agreement with the very unfair and compromised Robert Mueller. This allows my children to return to the lives they left behind when they began what they hoped would be a time of great service to their country. It allows me to return to a life I loved and only gave up to help my country in a time of great need. To my supporters, you have my lasting admiration and respect, my involvement with you has been the highlight of my life and I plan to continue to express my beliefs of how we can keep America great through the leadership of President Mike Pence.

  11. Submitted by Mark Gruben on 08/29/2018 - 02:26 pm.

    An ever-shrinking base

    The percentages reported in head-to-head matchups between Trump and various Democrats are very interesting. With Trump’s popularity declining in every state, it stands to reason that his base is shrinking…..and it seems very unlikely that it’ll increase again, certainly not enough to win a second term. That said, of course, if Democrats become too complacent, not only will they not regain the House this fall (or in 2020) they could even neglect to vote in the next presidential election, and…..well, I don’t even want to think about the possibility.

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