The question has been raised about how Donald Trump compares to more traditional Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney. We decided to find out for ourselves using the latest NBC/WSJ surveys.
For a more robust sample size of N=2,000 registered voters, we merged the last two NBC/WSJ surveys (May & June). Trump’s ballot margin against Clinton is 42%-46% (-4%).
Next, we compared our merged data to the last November 2012 survey comprised of N=1,800 registered voters. Romney’s ballot margin against Obama was 45%-47% (-2%).
We cut the data three ways:
1. Red States vs. Blue States
– Core Republican States: have gone to the Republican candidate in the past four Presidential Elections
– Core Democratic States: have gone to the Democratic candidate in the past four Presidential Elections
– Swing States: have voted for either the Republican or Democratic candidate in one of the past four Presidential Elections
2. 2012 Presidential Vote
– Red Big: States Romney outperformed national vote by 9% or more
– Red Small: States Romney outperformed national vote by 0-8%
– Blue Small: States Obama outperformed national vote by 0-8%
– Blue Big: States Obama outperformed national vote by 9% or more
3. The Wasserman Quadrant
David Wasserman’s breakdown of every county by partisan leanings and socioeconomic status – affectionately known here as the “Wasserman Quadrant.”
The results are conclusive that Donald Trump is not yet over-performing Romney. If anything, Trump’s support is tepid in traditionally Republican states and higher socioeconomic counties.
Importantly, the Electoral College does not care if you win a state by one vote or by 20% – you still win all the electoral votes of that state. This means that while Donald Trump’s margin in “Red Big” states is lagging behind Mitt Romney’s margin, he would most likely carry these states. These findings, though, shed light on why Donald Trump can be competitive in swing states while running behind Hillary Clinton in the overall ballot as he is not carrying “Red Big” states by traditional margins.
Seeing this data is a reminder that the convention is Donald Trump’s best chance to solidify core Republican support to continue to close the gap on the ballot.